The Kia CUV is the long-rumoured rival to the Mazda CX-3, and it cannot come soon enough for the Korean brand.
HERE is the first concrete evidence of the all-important Kia ‘CUV’. The South Korean brand’s answer to the highly successful Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V is being readied for an international unveiling as soon as the Geneva Motor Show next March, according to some reports.
Sprung undergoing hot-weather testing under very heavy cladding with a bunch of other prototypes, the so-called Kia CUV is believed to be based on a modified version of the next-generation Kia Rio supermini that is having its global debut at the Paris motor show in late September.
As a result, expect the Kia Rio to supply most of the engine choices, which probably means the 1.6-litre GDI direct-injection four-cylinder petrol unit and perhaps even a T-GDI turbocharged option.
A 1.7-litre turbo-diesel is also mooted for some markets, as is all-wheel drive in lieu of the standard front-drive configuration.
Other than that, little is known at the moment, though the rumour is that the Korean-built CUV will sit alongside the recently released European-focussed Niro Hybrid as a more affordable alternative small SUV.
Visually, and despite all the disguise, it is clear that the CUV is a more traditional SUV than the quite wagon-esque latter, with what appears to be more ground clearance, a higher hip point for loftier seating, and a more rounded overall silhouette.
This would put the Kia somewhere midway between the swoopy CX-3 and boxier HR-V in terms of interior packaging.
Having said that, there are some flashes of inspiration behind the bin-liner disguise, including a bisected headlight/indicator treatment that is reminiscent of the Nissan Juke – another deadly competitor that Kia will be chasing, especially in Europe.
The grille, however, continues with Kia’s signature ‘Tiger Nose’ theme.
Interestingly, the CUV would be Kia’s third small SUV. As well as the aforementioned Niro Hybrid, there is also the China-market KX-3, underlining the importance of the segment for the brand. And if you also count the oddball Kia Soul (which does do big business in other countries but is all but ignored in Australia), that makes it four.
Pricing? Far too early to tell, but a low-$20,000 to mid-$35,000 for the expected AWD and diesel versions is a likely range when the CUV arrives by the end of next year, meaning there will be some overlap with the larger Sportage in Kia’s local line-up.
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