Opinion

'Kia has come a long way in a short time - where does it go next?'

Kia has wooed buyers with its warranty and quality improvements but a couple of recent new cars don't quite hit the mark, says Graham Hope

Exactly 10 years ago this week, Auto Express ran a feature introducing the then new Kia Cee’d to readers. They were suitably impressed, as they were entitled to be; the Cee’d was the car that started the process which transformed the company from lightly regarded budget brand to genuine mainstream contender.  

The journey, frankly, has been amazing, with thousands of buyers wooed by astonishing leaps in quality and an appealing seven-year warranty.

But where does the firm go next? This week, a full decade after our Cee’d feature, we’ve tested the latest Kia, the new Rio supermini, and in truth it’s a bit underwhelming. While perfectly acceptable in isolation, it failed to match the VW Polo for quality and Suzuki’s Baleno for value, falling into a bit of a no-man’s land in the mass market. It’s arguably a step back from its predecessor.

Best family cars

You could say the same about the latest Sportage, too. While the last model was universally loved, the latest car is much less revolutionary and more of an acquired taste, with similar but less cohesive styling. 

To my mind, these two cars sum up the dilemma that Kia now faces. Having attracted hordes of new buyers, how does it continue to innovate and evolve without alienating those converts?

Kia Sportage - front cornering

There’s a further issue to address, too; price. Kia can no longer count on this to attract buyers; the Rio we tested was £16,295, some £1,205 more expensive than the Polo beside it. That’s a hard sell.

Yes, the warranty will always pull people in and the Stinger should sprinkle some stardust on the brand’s reputation, but what Kia really needs is to establish more of an identity for its cars. Breaking into the mainstream was one thing; carving out its own niche now that it’s there might prove a little tougher.

What do you think of Kia's current position? Let us know below...

Recommended

Kia UK boss bemoans lack of electric car charging investment and warns of ‘blackspots’
Kia Soul EV Charging
News

Kia UK boss bemoans lack of electric car charging investment and warns of ‘blackspots’

Kia UK CEO Paul Philpott says support for EV charging infrastructure investment is critical as the ban on petrol and diesel approaches
15 Jul 2021
Kia UK updates Online Booking Service feature
Kia UK servicing
News

Kia UK updates Online Booking Service feature

Korean brand enhances its one-stop app that manages car maintenance needs
1 Jun 2021
KiaCharge service gets IONITY bolt-on for discounted charging
Kia e-Niro - charging
Kia

KiaCharge service gets IONITY bolt-on for discounted charging

For an £11.25 monthly fee, KiaCharge subscribers get 70 per cent off charging at IONITY stations across UK
4 May 2021
More Kia GT electric performance models in the pipeline
Kia EV6 - side
Kia

More Kia GT electric performance models in the pipeline

The new EV6 GT sets the blueprint for the brand to roll-out more performance-focused electric cars
30 Mar 2021

Most Popular

Best electric cars to buy 2021
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2021

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
7 Jul 2021
New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900
Audi RS 3 Sportback - front
Audi RS3

New 2021 Audi RS 3: 395bhp mega hatch priced from £50,900

Full exterior and interior reveal for Audi RS 3, with aggressive styling and racy cabin to match strong performance
19 Jul 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021