South Korea’s Kia is expected to sign off 2016 in New Zealand with sales of around 5150 new vehicles – that’s a 56.5 per cent hike on the 3290 it did last year.
The result will leave Kia the No. 1 performer for the year in terms of percentage gains. Others have recorded big sales jumps on individual models – Ford Ranger ute is up more than 40 per cent, Isuzu D-Max up 30 per cent – but Kia’s leap over 2015 numbers reflects growth of seven of its eight models. Only the big SUV Sorrento is down slightly on last year.
The new Sportage SUV is the high flyer for Kia, the third best-selling passenger vehicle in the country, after the Toyota Corolla and Toyota RAV4. This time last year Sportage wasn’t in the top 15.
Kia goes into 2017 with updates to existing models and two new additions in the form of five-door hatchbacks, the Rio and smaller Picanto.
The Rio production model was unveiled at the Paris show in October; Picanto has just been revealed as teaser sketches (Seen here). As always such images are fanciful and only hint at what the car might look like.
The carmaker’s artists did the same with early sketches of the bigger Rio, pointing to a hot hatch of sorts (See picture below). But the car was far more conservative when it was unveiled in Paris.
Rio will go on sale in New Zealand in April; the Picanto will get here a few months later. Expect it to be slightly wider and longer than the current Picanto.
What is clear from both sketches is that the profile of the third-generation Picanto borrows much from the Rio – the smaller car is largely a scaled-down version of its bigger sibling.
Picanto gets the Kia’s trademark ‘tiger nose’, a gaping grille stretched between large headlights that reach back towards the sloping A-pillars. At the rear there’s a new twist on the outgoing car’s hooked tail-light design.
That theme continues into the cabin, where the sketch shows how the Picanto will adopt the new cabin architecture from the Rio. A digital display sits atop the dash, which will give access to a suite of the car’s functions given the reduced button count on the centre console. Kia also says there is “greater potential for customer personalization”, too.
Spy pictures of the heavily disguised Picanto show very little other than the overall proportions will be similar to the current car. But expect slight increases in width and length for a touch more passenger space.
Expect also a revised version of the current four-cylinder petrol engine, a 1.25-litre unit that delivers 64kW/123Nm to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.