Three to Five

The DTW difference is that we don’t just repost the news but provide incisive analyses that compound mere data into something altogether more meaningful. 

2017 Kia Rio theme drawing: source
2017 Kia Rio theme drawing: source

This article represents an instance of our remarkable service. Autocar and Automotive News both reported on the upcoming Kia Rio by kindly showing some renderings of the planned car. Autocar also reported on the Polo showing it driving around in disguise (“camo”). Regarding the Rio, AN felt it important to tell us that the car will look sportier and that it will have a longer bonnet. In comparison to the quite fine outgoing vehicle, Kia said the new design would have a “longer wheelbase, and upright C-pillar [to] give the car a more confident and balanced appearance”. So the current car is not that confident and not balanced enough apparently. Owners must be happy to be told that.  About the VW Polo, Autocar reports it’ll be a longer and lighter car. For a change, no mention is made of increased sportiness. So far so good, that’s our data: now the synthesis part.

2014 Kia Rio, not balanced, not sporty: source
2014 Kia Rio, not balanced, not sporty: source

Both the bigger, lighter  Polo and sportier, more balanced Rio will come only as five door cars. 88% of customers are rejecting the three door Rio so Kia is abandoning that format. So, what we see here is the continued decline of the three door supermini. Interestingly, VAG is using the same platform across a wide range of brands so it’s peculiar they don’t hang on in the business of three door cars simply to enjoy the benefits of being the last man standing, much as Ford’s Panther platform made a good business of mopping up the last of the customers for BOF saloons (an almost two decade monopoly). In contrast the good people at Russelsheim are still offering a three door Corsa and that’s something you won’t perhaps have heard too much about.

So, in one day two examples of the trend to five door only. This means we can induce further instances of this trend: who knows, maybe Porsche will only be sold with 5 doors?

2017 Kia Rio rending: source
2017 Kia Rio rending: source

Turning back to the subjective, the Rio’s more rectilinear style has strong shades of VW’s current theme, expressed across the board from Polo to Passat, from Duisburg to Derby. The Rio’s headlamps have taken on a very Golf style and the same goes for the rear. While a lot happens between the preparation of these sketches and the finalisation of the clay models, it seems the quite distinctive and rather good Rio look has been pushed overboard in Kia’s search for sales. As it is, VW’s current style has now been implemented

1979 VW Derby, not unrelated to the Polo: source
1979 VW Derby, not unrelated to the Polo: source

and is due to change in the next two years or so. So, Kia are at risk of committing to a style that VW itself will be departing from in the mid-term. This design decision is an unusual retrograde step: Kia have been producing professional and distinctive cars for quite some time and, if my rough impression has any meaning, customers seem to like them as they are. And AN confirms the good business case made by the current car: “The Rio is Kia’s best-selling model globally, with more than 473,000 sold last year”. Of those 56,000 were three door cars.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “Three to Five”

  1. I can’t agree that a Kia Rio with 5 doors is sportier than a 3 door. I had thought that Kia and Hyundai (especially with the C’eed/i30) felt there was still a market for the 3 door. This is also very sad news about the Polo and bodes very ill for a 3 door 8th gen Golf. Can’t help but feel a bit gloomy about these developments.

  2. ” a “longer wheelbase, and upright C-pillar [to] give the car a more confident and balanced appearance” ”

    That’s classic marketing/advertisement speak, like the promise of ‘improved formula’ on washing-up liquid.
    All it means of course is that the car is merely new or at least its looks have been refreshed. But maybe it also suggest that it ‘more confident and balanced’ than the competition’s offerings, rather than the outgoing model.

    1. For people who mostly don’t use the rear seats and don’t see the point of paying extra for rear doors.

    2. On a sensible car that has them as standard, you don’t have to pay extra.

    3. In theory maybe, but in practice how often do you the 3-door version at the same price as the 5-door version of any car ?

  3. Rumour is that the next generation Fiesta will be five door only, which would be a shame considering the history of the model. The USA of course has only been able to enjoy the five door since the current model was launched there, ST included.

    1. Evidently variation in vehicle format is being split into many vehicle lines instead of within vehicle lines. It must cost more to have a five door hatch and a five door CUV than a three and five door hatch. If it isn’t then what’s the argument against, say, the Vignale Mondeo being really physically different then? Audi have the A4 and A5, for example. And that two door saloon.

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