According to our interview with Michael Choo, General Manager Overseas PR Team at Kia Motors Worldwide, the South Korean carmaker is planning a hybrid-only small SUV codenamed as “DE”. It will use a 1.6 petrol engine fitted with an electric motor and next-gen hybrid transmission.
“The dedicated hybrid and the KC are different cars. We are not officially commenting on KC at the moment. As for the dedicated hybrid, all we are revealing at this time is that Kia Motors is developing an all-new vehicle, which will be Kia’s first dedicated eco-friendly vehicle based on its own platform.” Choo said.
“It will be launched initially with a next generation hybrid powertrain and a plug-in powertrain will be added later. Further details of the DE (launch timing, markets, prices and technical details) will be announced at later date.” he added.
According to AutoExpress’ report, the car was in a top secret studio where the pictures was not allowed and looks close to the 2012 Niro concept in its exterior design, although the overall look is more soft.
With an SUV-shaped profile, plastic cladding around the wheel arches and bumpers, low ride height it’s appearance is very much a crossover between a small estate and a SUV – like the Mercedes GLA – and designed with the global market in its mind.
The interior is based around a new design theme that will debut first on the all-new Optima in late 2015. Featuring a large central screen recessed into the dash and rows of switchgear arranged in long horizontal lines there’s a hint of BMW influence in the layout. To set the hybrid apart white and blue plastic inserts in the dash, gear lever surround and door frames give it a youthful, hi-tech feel.
“The car will get an all-new platform, engineered to accommodate a specific set of environmentally-conscious technologies and powertrains. Choo said. This ‘blank page’ approach will allow Kia’s engineers to design and develop the new model in isolation from other others in the Kia range, ensuring the car and its powertrain are perfectly suited to one another. This is part of Kia’s continuous drive to expand and develop its line-up of environmentally-friendly vehicles” he added.
Again and thanks to AutoExpress report, the car will fit between the Soul and the Sportage measuring 4,350mm and according to Kia’s head of overseas marketing Spencer Cho, hits a sweet spot in terms of size and design: “Our research showed that Prius owners want a hybrid but aren’t happy with the design, this is the answer to that,” he said.
That might not sound like much, but Kia’s research shows that customers are happy to sacrifice a little fuel economy for a more fashionable shape. But why not offer it with petrol and diesel engines, too, especially in Europe where diesel is king? “Even if this model isn’t exactly what a customer wants, it still draws them to the showroom,” Cho explained. “Once they are there we have plenty of alternatives, such as the Soul diesel and Soul EV. We want to avoid any cannibalisation from the rest of the range.”