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Kia eyes SP SUV for Australia

Production ready: Kia’s SP concept is said to be close to the production version of a compact SUV to be built in India – and probably South Korea as well.

Compact SP concept could be Kia Australia’s answer for small SUV contender

8 Feb 2018

KIA Motors Australia’s wait for a sub-Sportage SUV might be over, if the Kia SP concept revealed at India’s AutoExpo 2018 motor show this week is any guide.

The South Korean company has confirmed the compact vehicle will go into production next year, with Kia Motors chief design officer Peter Schreyer saying Kia intended to “storm the market with an SUV that will set new parameters in motoring”.

“It’s still a concept – so it’s a little bit exaggerated – but the actual production car will be very close to what you see here at AutoExpo 2018,” he said.

Kia’s Australian arm is on the record as saying it has its eye on a future model to fill the small SUV gap in its line-up. So far, it has not confirmed if the SP is that vehicle.

While the SP concept is expected to morph into a compact production car to be built in India where Kia is planning to enter the market next year, the company has not ruled out building the vehicle elsewhere, such as in Korea – the source of vehicles favoured by Kia in Australia.

So far, no official measurements have been supplied for the SP that Kia describes as “compact”.

The India media reports that the production version will target the Indian-built Hyundai Creta and Renault Captur small SUVs when it goes into production in mid-2019.

The Creta is 4270mm long and 1780mm wide, making it 210mm shorter and 75mm narrower than Kia’s mid-sized Sportage. The Captur is smaller again, at 4122mm long and 1778mm wide.

So far, Kia’s Australian product planning team has turned up its nose at a couple of Kia’s other small SUV contenders, including the Niro and Stonic that are sold in other markets.

The Stonic was rejected because of its asthmatic 1.4-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engine taken from Rio, while the electrified Niro was also thought to be short of what Australians want in a compact five-door wagon.

In India, the production version of the SP reportedly will be powered by a 1.0-litre direct-injected turbo-charged engine or an alternative 1.6-litre diesel four-cylinder taken from sister company Hyundai’s Creta.

Design wise, the SP has been likened to Range Rover’s Evoque, mainly because of its clam-shell bonnet that sets the tone for the frontal styling.

Kia said in its publicity guff that the design was inspired by Indian heritage, although it did not immediately explain how.

Like the Captur, the SP concept has a dual-tone paint job with a white roof.

LED daytime running lights stretch across the front of the vehicle on the edge of the bonnet, interrupted by the signature “tiger nose” Kia grille.

Silver-painted faux bash plates underpin the front and rear bumpers that are moulded from hard-wearing black plastic that also stretches around the wheel arches and side sills.

Kia promises breakthrough technology and high functionality in the final design for the vehicle that “will set new standards for compact SUVs in India”.

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