First glimpse at new 2012 Kia Rio

The most striking changes come in terms of styling. Kia has introduced its new thin, horizontal front grille with new headlamps and a wedge-shape silhouette in a complete overhaul of the Rio.

The finished car is vastly different to previous generations of the Rio and Kia is confident it will sell well because of its new exterior design.

"This new model is a big step forward. The Rio has always been successful, and with this new incarnation we have a car that people will want to buy for its looks," Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s Director of Overseas Marketing.

Competing against the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, the Kia has been extended by 7cm to create more space for passengers and extend the boot space to 292-litres – one of the largest in the segment.

The changes continue inside with more equipment and, according to Kia, more upmarket materials compared to previous, more sparsely equipped Rio models.

The next generation Kia Rio will only go on sale in the UK in 2012, but by that time Kia promises a 1.1-litre diesel engine – one of a number of petrol and diesel options – will be capable of CO2 emissions of 85g/km.

This will qualify the Rio for exemption from UK road tax and will make it one of the lowest CO" emitting superminis on the market.

Available in both three- and five-door versions, the new Kia Rio will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month before a planned release early in 2012.

It will appear at the show alongside another next generation small car, the Kia Picanto city car, which has received a revamp for 2011.