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Kia small SUV breaks cover ahead of late-2019 arrival

By Tony O’Kane, 14 May 2019 Car News

Kia small SUV breaks cover ahead of late-2019 arrival

Kia’s sub-Sportage soft-roader will arrive in Australian showrooms toward the end of this year

Kia has lifted the lid on its first global small SUV, revealing sketches of the car’s nose, tail and interior ahead of its Australian arrival later this year.

Though a name for the Korean automaker’s sub-Sportage offering has yet to be announced, the sketches confirm that the gateway SUV will closely follow the template set by the Kia SP Signature Concept that debuted at the Seoul motor show in March (below).

And by “closely follow”, we mean “will be nearly identical”. Key design elements shown in the sketches align almost perfectly with those on the SP Signature, showcasing the company’s next evolution in exterior design with a grille that now blends into the headlamps, along with an equally-bold rear lamp graphic across the tailgate.

On the inside, a massive 10.25-inch infotainment screen dominates the dashboard while a two-tone colour scheme suggests Kia's youth-targeted compact crossover might have a brighter and cheerier interior versus the usual 'sea of black' that's the segment's default. 

What's more, Kia says the model will feature the company's "Sound Mood Lighting" tech, which will give the driver the ability to customise the cabin ambient lighting - as well as, it appears, blast light from the speaker grilles, in a similar fashion to the now-retired Kia Soul.

Technical details remain under wraps, but with the car sized to compete against rivals like the Mitsubishi ASX, Holden Trax, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V – amongst many others – the arrival of a new SUV should at last give Kia a presence in the highly competitive small SUV category.

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Unlike previous small SUVs from Kia like the Niro and Stonic, the vehicle shown in these sketches will go on sale around the world, rather than be limited to select regions.

Currently, with the mid-sized Sportage being the company’s smallest SUV offering, Kia Australia has had to sit and watch as rivals with broader product portfolios capitalised on booming demand for smaller SUVs and crossovers. The arrival of Kia’s first global small SUV will finally change that.

And it’s part of a greater SUV thrust by the automaker. Joining the small SUV in 2019 will be the Kia e-Niro, the company’s first tilt at the electric vehicle market in Australia and one that will boast a 400+ kilometre single-charge range.

Overseas, Kia will also be wheeling out a crossover hatchback based on the European-market Ceed, along with the towering Telluride large SUV in North America. Neither of those are slated for our market.

Kia Australia also has its heart set on adding a rugged ladder-framed 4x4 wagon to that mix as well, though a suitable product has yet to materialise to satisfy that urge.

Watch for Kia’s new global small SUV to go on sale in Korea in the second half of this year, with local sales commencing in the fourth quarter.