New Kia Rio previewed in official sketches

Kia’s small family hatchback competes against heavyweights such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra and as a result the design team has decided to make the next generation stand out.

This means Kia’s trademark front end – known in the company as the ‘tiger face’ – makes an appearance, while the roof slopes up from the front wheels in a continuous curve.

The distinctive style is matched inside, where Kia has updated the quality of the Rio hatchback to bring it in line with offerings from the likes of Ford.

This means more trim options and a greater level of equipment than the current generation Rio, which is Kia’s third best-selling car in Europe.

The new Kia Rio is a ‘sporty and elegant’ car, according to Kia, aimed at people looking to downsize from larger saloons and MPVs.

The family car market – or B-segment as it is known in the industry – will be highly competitive in 2011. Not only is the new Ford Focus arriving in the UK, the Vauxhall Astra, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, new Chevrolet Aveo and Seat Leon will all compete for sales in the UK.

However, Soon-Nam Lee, Director of Overseas Marketing, Kia Motors Corporation, said: "New Rio is the ‘next big step’ in Kia’s design revolution and we anticipate this model becoming even more popular than the current vehicle."

Prices have not been announced for the finished model, but more details are expected when the new Kia Rio makes its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Similarly, it is still too early to say when the new Kia Rio will be released in the UK, but late 2011early 2012 is likely.

The current generation of the Kia Rio starts from just £8,190 and comes with Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty.

A special edition model, the Kia Rio Domino, featuring distinctive black and white colouring and extra equipment, is available in automatic or manual and costs from £10,635.