Next-gen Rio to serve as foundation for a high-riding derivative.

Kia is currently putting the finishing touches on the fourth-generation Rio which will likely receive its world premiere in early October at the Paris Motor Show. Besides the familiar supermini body style, the B-segment model will also spawn a subcompact crossover, according to John Kim, head of Kia's Western Europe Team. The announcement doesn’t come as a big surprise taking into account almost three years ago Kia unveiled a concept for a baby crossover (pictured here.)

Besides the usual array of turbocharged three- and four-cylinder combustion engines, the Rio-based crossover could receive a plug-in hybrid setup adapted from the larger Niro. That one teams up a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor to churn a combined output of 141 horsepower (104 kilowatts) and 195 pound-feet (264 newton-meters) of torque.

It remains to be seen whether the plug-in hybrid, city-oriented crossover will happen and if it will carry over the Niro’s hardware with the same specs, including the 1.56-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. If it will, it means the new hybridized subcompact crossover from Kia will likely be even more frugal than the 74.3-mpg Niro given the lower weight.

As it’s the case with just about all supermini-based crossovers, the new high-riding derivative of the Rio lineup will command a premium over the standard model. The price difference between the two will be justified by the higher driving position and a larger trunk, thus making the crossover more practical than its supermini counterpart. Don’t hold your breath for an all-wheel-drive version because the crossover will stick to the same front-wheel-drive layout.

A sister model of the Hyundai i20, the all-new Rio is set to grow in size based on what the spy photos are indicating. Besides putting on stilts for a crossover, Kia’s upcoming supermini is expected to receive a hot GT version with an estimated 180 hp from the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine available in a variety of models, such as the cee’d GT and the Sportage. If the rumors pan out, the Rio GT will be introduced in about two years from now.


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