Today marks the launch of the first ever Kia car to be sold in the UK, the small Kia Pride hatchback. Sales of the Pride were a modest 1,786 in its first year on sale, a figure set to be outstripped by the compact Picanto city car.
The new Kia Picanto was launched earlier this month in five-door format, replacing the previous generation of the city car in UK dealerships.
Designed in Europe to appeal to European buyers, the Kia Picanto has earned rave reviews since going on sale because of the huge leap forward in interior quality, driving dynamics and styling.
The latter is down to the work of ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer, the man responsible for the award-winning design of the Kia Sportage and Kia Soul.
Both picked up a prestigious Red Dot design award for their flowing lines and distinctive feline-themed ‘tiger face’ front end.
The new 2011 Kia Picanto uses the same design language in its latest form, and alongside the modern exterior, higher quality materials inside the cabin signify a step up in quality for the Kia brand in the UK.
However, the Picanto retains Kia’s value for money philosophy with starting prices of £7,995 and the brand’s impressive seven year warranty.
Since its entry into the UK in 1991, Kia has grown to take a market share of nearly three per cent, selling upwards of 56,000 cars in 2010.
Michael Cole, Managing Director, Kia Motors (UK) Limited, said: "We think we have a fantastic range of cars and, judging by our growth over the last few years, it seems our customers think so too!"
So confident is Cole of the new Picanto being a success, he hopes one in ten city cars sold will bear the Picanto badge by 2012. However, Kia will also launch a new small hatchback, the Kia Rio, and the Kia Optima saloon, the first saloon model from Kia to be sold in Europe.