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Kia to launch all new mini car. Image by Kia.

Kia to launch all new mini car
Kia Motors will unveil a brand new A-segment car at the Frankfurt Motor Show, called the Picanto.
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2004-11-15: Kia Picanto review

Kia Motors will unveil a brand new A-segment car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. This new car gives Korea's second-largest automaker a competitive entry-level vehicle in Europe for the first time.

A zesty little car with head-turning looks and a deceptive amount of interior room, the new mini Kia sets the stage for a number of exciting new designs in the pipeline from the oldest car manufacturer in the "country of the morning calm". Combining wide-eyed appeal with sporty, modern lines, the exterior of the Kia is clearly inspired by European tastes and preferences.

The five-door car will be available in a four and a five-seat version. Sporting 157 litres of storage space with the rear seats up, it leaves plenty of room for luggage. Folding the seats down gives 882 litres of space. In terms of passenger space, the small Kia is the best in its class in overall dimensions.

The class-leading CO2 figures reflect the push toward leaner, greener vehicles. The 1.0-litre engine produces a miserly 120 g/km. The 1.1-litre version generates 130 g/km in the five-speed manual version and 153 g/km in the four-speed automatic version.

With a choice of 14" or 15" alloy wheels and many other attractive and useful features, the A-segment Kia furthers the company's goal of developing a "young, sporty, friendly" brand image.

The Kia also comes with an instant mobility system instead of a spare tyre. This boosts interior space and increases the safety and versatility of the car.

In terms of safety, the mini Kia will reach the best standards that can be expected from a modern car in this segment nowadays, both for active and passive aspects.

"Our new A-class car offers a blend of contemporary styling and a full range of features. It is tailor-made for the active lifestyle favoured by the younger generation," says Kia Motors COO Yong-hwan Kim.

As automakers around the world increasingly focus on marketing to "Generation Y" buyers, Kia is taking a more low-key approach. "You can't tell young people what they want," says Mr Kim, "they will decide for themselves. If we want to attract these buyers, we have to provide a great car at a price that is within their range."

This approach is already generating results in the United States, where almost 16% of Kia cars are sold to customers aged 18-25. A similar trend is now developing in Europe.

The new A-class Kia is a high volume product designed to achieve stronger penetration particularly in Europe, where it will contribute significantly to Kia's goal of tripling sales by 2005 and raise awareness of the Kia brand in general. A diesel version of the vehicle will be released in 2005, increasing the appeal of the vehicle still further.

"The Kia range currently covers around 35% of European segmentation. By 2005 this will increase to around 85% as we develop vehicles to more closely match European tastes," says Mr Kim.

Donghee Auto Company will build the new A-segment Kia on consignment at a new factory in Suhsan, a few kilometres from Kia's Hwasung plant. Initial production will be 150,000 units per year, of which 88,000 will be export models. The sales potential for Europe on a 12-month basis is around 60,000 units.

It is thought that the car will be named "Picanto".

The Car Enthusiast will be travelling to the 2003 Frankfurt Show in September so look out for our review linked from the main Motor Shows page.

Kia news release - 25 Aug 2003    - Kia road tests
- Kia news
- Picanto images

2004 Kia SA. Image by Kia.

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