Kia has come out swinging in recent years, rocketing to the top of the class with many of its newest models. To bump the brand’s credibility even further, we hear that it may be prepping a hot hatch version of its all-new Rio subcompact.
We already know that Kia is planning a turbocharged 1.2-liter I-4 for U.S. consumption potentially starting some time in 2012. Serving duty in the 2012 Rio will be the 140-horsepower, 1.6-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder from the Hyundai Elantra sedan. The Rio shown at the Geneva Motor Show this year already hinted at a sportier hatch with large alloy wheels and an aggressive exterior design.
While so far the rumors only appear to be for the U.K. market, there could be a hotter version of the all-new Rio hatchback coming soon. While speaking with Autocar, Kia marketing and product planning chief Benny Oeyen hinted at the possibility of a tarted-up hatch.
“You can improve [the brand image] with cars. A helpful car for us would be a hot hatch, cabrio, or a coupe. I can imagine a sporty Kia in Europe; we have to develop the brand.”
The subcompact hot hatch segment is a popular one, with most major brands offering speedier versions of what are generally more utilitarian cars. Volkswagen offers the Polo GTI, Citroen has the DS3 R, Renault the Clio RS, and Opel with the Corsa OPC. This new vehicle could help to solidify the Korean automaker as more than just an inexpensive alternative in the automotive marketplace.
What do you think — is there a place for a hotter Kia Rio?