Kia's chance to catch up

* New model blitz * Many brand firsts * Hybrid models planned...

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What Car? Staff
14 May 2009

Kia's chance to catch up

Kia believes the economic downturn has given it a 'once in a lifetime chance' to catch up with the design and technology of more established competitors who are struggling in the current financial climate.

New engines will be headed by a 195bhp 2.2-litre diesel, initially for the Sorento, but later destined for the Sedona, Kia's large MPV.

The company is also working on a series of direct-injection petrol turbo engines to help it reduce the average fuel consumption and emissions of its fleet, and it has just announced its first six-speed automatic gearbox with the same aim in mind. The new gearbox is destined for the Sorento and Sedona.

Hybrid versions of 'one or two' models are also on the way, with the next Cee'd the most likely candidate to be given petrol-electric power. Kia has not yet decided whether it should be a mild hybrid where the battery supplements the petrol engine, such as the Honda Insight, or a full hybrid, which can be powered by the battery alone, along the lines of the Toyota Prius.