Skip advert
Advertisement
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.  

Advertisement - Article continues below

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...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Behind the badge: Kia's new look and new approach
Tom Jervis sticking plate on the front of a KIA EV9
Features

Behind the badge: Kia's new look and new approach

It's a new look and a new approach to customer service for the Korean brand. We visit Kia's flagship UK showroom to see how the ‘premium’ ethos works
22 Jun 2024
Kia’s future new car plans laid bare in 2024 Investor Day announcement
Kia CEO Ho Sung Song presenting brand's EV line-up strategy on stage
News

Kia’s future new car plans laid bare in 2024 Investor Day announcement

The upcoming Kia EV2, EV6 facelift and EV9 GT were all mentioned in Kia’s ‘state of the nation’ address
5 Apr 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024 - header image
Best cars & vans

Best new cars coming in 2024

There are some big new models from the likes of BMW, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, MINI, Skoda and more on the way in 2024
12 Mar 2024
New Kia PV5, PV1 and PV7 set to storm the electric van sector
Kia electric commercial vehicle concepts - line-up
News

New Kia PV5, PV1 and PV7 set to storm the electric van sector

Kia's modular PBV architecture brings flexibility to cover a wide range of uses
9 Jan 2024

Most Popular

Dacia, Kia and MG have gone from no-hopers to celebrated winners
Opinion - Dacia Duster
Opinion

Dacia, Kia and MG have gone from no-hopers to celebrated winners

Mike Rutherford thinks Dacia, Kia and MG were once considered underdogs, but the 2024 Driver Power results show just how far all three manufacturers h…
23 Jun 2024
New MG Cyberster 2024 review: electric GT is a world away from the MGB
MG Cyberster 2024 UK - front
Road tests

New MG Cyberster 2024 review: electric GT is a world away from the MGB

The two-seat MG Cyberster electric roadster fits the open-topped grand tourer brief
24 Jun 2024
New Cupra Leon 2024 facelift review: fun hatch gets sharper looks
New 2024 Cupra Leon - front tracking
Road tests

New Cupra Leon 2024 facelift review: fun hatch gets sharper looks

Cupra tidies up its Leon range with a facelift, but it’s the plug-in hybrid hatch which gains the greatest upgrades
21 Jun 2024