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Bold Juke rival heads Kia's new model boom

Dramatic supermini-SUV set to replace Venga MPV and take cues from striking Niro concept

Kia has finally given the green light to a supermini-based SUV, and it’s scheduled to go on sale by 2018. The new car is being lined up to take on the best-selling Nissan Juke and Renault Captur with funky, bold styling, and in Europe it will effectively replace the Venga compact MPV.

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Kia showed off its vision for a small supermini-based SUV to sit below the Sportage at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Niro concept was said to be merely a design study, but bosses have finally given the Juke rival the go-ahead, admitting it’s a market they “have to be in”. 

Kia’s Ford Fiesta competitor, the Rio, will be replaced by an all-new version in two years, and the platform for that car is set to form the basis of the SUV. 

Our source revealed that the design of the newcomer has yet to be signed off, but due to the Niro being “so well received” at Frankfurt two years ago, Kia seems keen to stick with the Niro’s recipe. 

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That means the SUV will have curvaceous bodywork, plus Kia’s trademark tiger nose, quad LED daytime running lights similar to those on the Kia Pro_cee’d GT and muscular wheelarches. 

Kia is likely to offer a wide range of personalisation packs, just like Nissan has found great success with, including contrasting roof finishes and tough off-road styling options. Our source hinted the final design will be slightly taller than the Niro, too.

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Under the bonnet, the new baby SUV will be offered with a choice of three engines and two gearboxes. The company’s recently revealed 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine will certainly be one of the options, with a larger 1.6-litre petrol turbo and a 1.7-litre diesel also available. 

A six-speed manual gearbox will be standard, with Kia’s new seven-speed dual-clutch box as an option, and the new SUV will be front-wheel-drive only. 

Our source revealed the brand may even use the petrol-electric powertrain from its new hybrid

Kia will price the new small SUV to compete with its nearest rivals, so expect a starting figure of around £15,000. It will be built at the company’s factory in Slovakia, alongside the Cee’d and Sportage.

More Kias coming in the next three years…

It’s not just the new supermini-based SUV that will roll off Kia’s production lines in the coming years. 

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There’s a whole host of new models we can expect to see over the next three years – and they range from replacements for Kia’s current cars to entrants in new markets. 

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Our timeline explains what you can expect and when you’re likely to see them in your nearest Kia dealer...

2016: Kia Optima

2016 Kia Optima front

Despite its pin-sharp styling, the Optima hasn’t set sales charts on fire. Kia hopes it’ll be second time lucky when the new model appears in early 2016. A shooting brake estate will arrive in August next year. 

2016: Kia Sportage

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The replacement for Kia’s top-selling Sportage will star at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, before going on sale next year – and our spies have caught it on test. Expect similar styling, more space and a posher interior.

2017: Kia Rio

Kia Rio 2015 front

The next Rio will arrive in 2017. It’ll be the next step in Kia’s offensive to beat the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. Expect sleeker styling than the current model (above) and downsized petrol engines. A hot GT model should appear in 2018.

2018: Kia Cee’d

A facelifted Cee’d (above) will arrive later this year, but the all-new car will appear at the start of 2018. It’ll have a better-quality interior to battle the VW Golf. Three-door Pro_cee’d and hot GT versions should follow a year later.

Now see how the new Kia Sorento fares against the Land Rover Discovery Sport here...

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