Kia considering Rio hot hatch as way to boost brand image in Europe

Article by Christian A., on March 16, 2011

A recent Autocar report stated that as Kia aims to build a stronger brand image in Europe, it may offer a more powerful version of the Rio. At the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, Kia displayed its new Picanto and Rio. These hatchback models were seen to be edgier and more up-market than before. Marketing and product planning chief Benny Oeyen said, “The quality and design is much greater than the brand image represents.”

He suggests that a hot hatch, cabrio or a coupe would be “helpful” but in the short run, he said that a hot hatch would be the easiest and most likely option since this segment is popular in Europe.

Oeyen says that although he can picture a sporty Kia in Europe, the brand has to be developed first. The current engine range for the all-new fourth-generation Rio includes 1.25-liter and 1.4-liter petrol units as well as the 1.1-liter three-cylinder turbodiesel with stop-start. It’s likely that the hot Rio will be powered by the 1.6-liter GDI Gamma engine that went into the Hyundai Veloster.

It delivers 138hp at 6,300 rpm and it features Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing, an electronic throttle control, a roller timing chain, variable induction and innovative anti-friction coatings such as CrN Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coating and Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating.

When looking for a new car, consumers generally want something that is top quality and offers more choices as well as those with an exciting and attractive design. All of these are present in Kia’s new offering, the Rio. Most new models are often an evolution of a previous model but for the Rio, it is more of a revolution. The unique and bold character of the Kia Rio signifies a total departure from the previous models and this make it a perfect fit to the brand’s revitalized family of products.

When looked at from the front, the Rio provides its very own interpretation of the brand’s corporate grille. Since it has been wonderfully integrated to the vehicle’s front lamps, the grille results in giving a new twist to the Kia look. Unlike before, the brand’s logo is now located above the grille. Even with this new feature, when looking below the grille, signs that the brand’s design DNA are still present are seen in the spoiler and the front bumper, especially with their distinct on-road presence.

Viewed from the side, the strong wedge shape mixed with the body to glass ratio result in the Rio having a sporty and dynamic stance. What this all means is that, while the Rio does have a new personality, it still complements the Venga and Picanto. The Rio even shows that it has a connection with the Kia Sportage. This is evidenced by the fast rear screen angle, the rather dominant high shoulder, flowing C-pillar, and the stable and strong rear portion.

While the roof-line may be similar to that of a coupe, it works well with the Rio as it provides a stark contrast to the static and strong rear bumper, giving the rear view solidity and power.

Though the appearance is already elegant yet bold, this is further reinforced with the unique feature line that adds tension to the sides and thus highlights the vehicle’s already dynamic stance. By ensuring that there is a balance between the overall proportion, wheelbase, and its window graphic, this results in a premium and refined presence for the Rio.

This is a quality considered rare especially for the B-segment. In order to make the most out of the impact provided by the outstanding appearance of the Rio, the brand is offering fresh and new choices of up to 10 body colors. The team responsible for both the trim and color made sure to create a range of new colors for the Rio with the aim of highlighting its style and refinement.

Two examples are the Graphite Grey and the Wendy Brown -- colors that have a classic premium taste. With the Rio, the product portfolio of Kia has taken that next and important step in turning into a family of vehicles that while attractive and has a consistent brand style, still maintains a very distinct product character.

Topics: kia, kia rio

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