Earlier this year, there was some buzz about an unnamed Kia compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that is set to launch in 2021. To date, there's no official follow-up from Kia about this possible new vehicle, but if it pans out, it will surely stir excitement in the local automotive market, especially in the compact MPV segment to which many Filipinos have shown an affinity.
It is this affinity that has prodded automakers to venture deeper into this segment, and now the industry is seeing a number of 7-seater MPVs arriving at the scene this year such as the Mitsubishi Xpander Cross and the Suzuki XL7 and providing a tense competition to the models that are already dominating the scene, namely the Toyota Rush, Honda BR-V, Toyota Innova, old-timer Toyota Avanza, Honda Mobilio, Mitsubishi Xpander and the Suzuki Ertiga.
With this segment showing healthy growth, it is a no brainer that other players are wanting to take part in the action, with manufacturers like Geely and MG also freshening their crossover lineups. And apparently, Kia is, too.
The news of a 7-seater compact MPV came from an exclusive report by an Indian publication revealing that the South Korea-based carmaker is planning to introduce the said vehicle which will be assembled in its manufacturing plant in Anantapur. Reports have it that this is not a spur-of-the-moment decision by Kia but is actually part of its three-year strategy in India beginning with the Kia Seltos SUV which it released in the country in 2019, followed by the Kia Sonet SUV which is due for release in the second half of 2020 and the upcoming 7-seater compact MPV, for which Kia is said to have already invested USD 54 million or around PHP 2.7 billion.
The upcoming compact MPV is said to be based on the Kia Seltos platform, and reports have it that it will be a premium vehicle for the C-segment measuring around 4.5 meters long and most likely standing below 4 meters. There is no available information on the powertrain but if it were to compete with the leading compact MPVs in the market, then it will most likely sport a 1.5L naturally aspirated gasoline engine or a 1.5L turbo-diesel mill, which could be paired with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox, or a CVT.
To date, this MPV remains to be an unidentified model, but it is hazarding a guess that it could be the new generation of the Kia Carens, also called the Kia Rondo in other markets. This compact MPV offering from Kia was launched as early as 1999 and it's been on its third generation since 2013. The model was among the vehicles Kia marketed in the Philippines since 2006, which was powered by a 2L diesel engine with manual and automatic transmission options. It was, however, discontinued a few years ago, leaving a gap in Kia's C-segment offering. It is thus expected that the 2021 compact MPV that will launch in India will also be brought to the Philippine market to make up for this gap.
- Images from kia.com