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Kia's Shuma swaps four-eyed look for an egg-crate face

New face: The facelifted Kia Shuma gains wrap-around headlights in lieu of the four-eyed face of the current model.

Kia's compact Shuma will gain an entirely new look next year

Kia logo28 Jun 2000

By GAUTAM SHARMA

KIA's compact Shuma will make way for a substantially facelifted version in mid-2001.

The newcomer abandons the four-eyed look of the current model in favour of a face adorned by wrap-around headlights and an "egg-crate" grille.

It is likely to retain its 1.8-litre engine and sub-$20,000 starting price, but the new model is likely to gain better trim and higher equipment levels to separate it from the smaller Rio, due to make its debut in three weeks.

The Shuma/Mentor has been a steady performer for Kia, notching up just under 1100 sales until the end of May, more than any other vehicle in the range.

Kia's Australian sales amounted to 3201 vehicles until the end of May but the local importer predicts a huge surge following the mid-July launch of the entry level Rio, which will have a sub-$15,000 starting price.

The Carens compact people-mover will be launched simultaneously and is likely to provide additional sales impetus.

But Kia's mid-size Credos has been faring poorly, earning less than 15 sales a month so far this year.

This would not be a huge concern for Kia as the flagship sedan is due to be replaced by a new Sonata-based car early next year.

The new Credos will be offered only with a 2.5-litre V6 engine as the local market for medium four-cylinder cars has been shrinking perceptibly.

Many buyers who previously opted for mid-size four-cylinder vehicles are being wooed either by budget-priced six-cylinder contenders such as the Mitsubishi Magna or smaller four-cylinder cars like the Nissan Pulsar.

The V6 Credos is likely to retain a price of about $24,000 - more or less on par with the Hyundai Sonata Executive.

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