Subcompact hatchbacks and sedans may be a minor part of the U.S. market, but they’re hugely important in the rest of the world.
So the launch of a new generation of Kia Rio during next month’s media days at the Paris Motor Show is worthy of note, even if some U.S. drivers and dealers yawn.
The new model, like most updated designs these days, has a slightly longer wheelbase and is expected to be slightly larger than the current car
DON’T MISS: 2016 Kia Rio – review
Kia hasn’t said much yet about what seems likely to be sold in North America as the 2018 Kia Rio.
We do know that design responsibility was split between the company’s studios in Germany and California—though the main design center in Namyang, South Korea, likely had a strong influence as well.
So far, Kia has issued only sketches of the new design, which it calls “progressive.”
While the car depicted is low, almost squat, perched on huge wheels, the production design is likely to be closer to the current car’s more conventional and upright form.
Kia says the longer front overhang and a lengthened hood convey give the car a “more confident and balanced appearance” than the outgoing model.
The interior sketch for the new Rio appears more practical than many such concept drawings, with wide sweeping lines from side to side.
ALSO SEE: 2013 Kia Rio Will Come With Optional Stop-Start System (May 2012)
The center of the dash includes a large horizontal touchscreen, virtually de rigeur for any new production vehicle these days.
Large trapezoidal vents are outlined in what looks like brushed silver trim, with a low central row of toggle switches where the dash meets the center console.
That’s an unusual feature that harkens back to several generations of Mini Cooper. It’s unclear if the toggles will make it into production in the form shown.
While a relatively minor player in the U.S. subcompact market, the Kia Rio is actually the Korean brand’s best-selling vehicle on a global basis.
In the U.S., the company is likely better known for its Optima mid-size sedan and its Sorento and Sportage crossover utility vehicles.
CHECK OUT: 2012 Kia Rio Hatch: Five Doors, 40 MPG Starting At $14,350 (Sep 2011)
The first Kia Rio landed in the U.S. for the 2001 model year, offered in sedan and wagon forms.
The wagon departed for the second generation that launched in 2006, with the new sedan joined by a five-door hatchback.
The current generation, launched for 2012, continued with a hatchback, along with a much sleeker fastback sedan version.
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