We’re not surprised a new Kia Rondo is around the corner – after all, we spotted a prototype testing in Michigan weeks ago – but the automaker confirmed its all-new mini-minvan will debut at the Paris Motor Show in September.
Sold in Europe as the Carens, the new Rondo looks nothing like its predecessor. The lumpy, upright form of the first-generation model is no more; instead, the new Carens/Rondo has a long, swept-back form more in keeping with most European MPVs. Kia’s corporate design language dominates the front fascia, thanks to a wide keystone grille and long headlamp assemblies that stretch almost to the end of the hood stamping.
At this point, Kia is playing coy with the Rondo, saying little other than the MPV boasts a “sleek, cab-forward design” (apparent in the above sketch), a chrome beltline accent (not so apparent in the above sketch), and is both lower and longer than the previous model. It’s believed the Rondo/Carens shares its platform with the European Cee’d hatchback, which will be ported to North America as the next-generation Forte. Powertrain details are still a mystery, but expect engine options to mirror the Cee’d, which is presently available in Europe with gasoline and diesel 1.4- and 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines.
We think the new Carens/Rondo looks great (heck, even the camouflaged example we saw looked striking in person, despite its poofy disguise), but Kia officials tell us that there’s presently no plan to bring this new Rondo to the U.S. at this point in time. Although the small MPV segment is slowly growing in North America (witness the new Ford C-Max range), the Rondo’s previous performance in the U.S. may be enough to discourage Kia from selling a new model here. After launching in late 2006, the model’s best year came in 2008, when 28,645 examples found new homes. The next year, sales dropped to 14,206, before plummeting to 3588 in 2010. The Rondo was subsequently culled from Kia’s 2011 model year portfolio.
But times change, and clearly, so too has the Rondo. What say you – should this vehicle be given a second chance in the U.S.? Would a stylish, affordable, versatile mini-minivan like this play well in our market? You be the judge – send your vote below.