Kia Introduces K3 in Home Market. Will It Appear as Rio/Forte Replacement?

Many manufacturers are busy running in the opposite direction from small, affordable cars, but there remain a few which are willing to play in this low(er) margin arena. Kia is one of them, with cars like the Rio and Forte – and it may be re-upping the latter in our market later this year.

Shown yesterday in its home market of Korea, the new K3 is a hecho en Mexico sedan which takes styling cues from several members on the crossover/SUV side of its family tree. Under the hood is a choice of 1.6-liter, paired with a stick or automatic, or 2.0L mill offered only with a paddle-shifted autobox in GT trim. The engines make about 120 and 150 horses, respectively. The 2.0L is similar in offering to what is in today’s Forte, though a top-spec GT-Limited packs a 1.6L turbo good for 201 ponies.

This is a brand that has been cranking out good-looking vehicles in recent years, and the K3 fits those efforts. Narrow headlights with a tracing of LED mascara line the front, bookending a modern take on what Kia used to call a ‘Tiger Nose’ grille. Smears of brightwork make the car look more expensive than it surely shall be, as do those snazzy 17-inch wheels. The reason we hedged our bets in the headline about this being a potential replacement for both the Rio and Forte in America lies in the K3’s overall length: Nearly four inches shorter than the 182.6-inch than the 2023 Forte but well over a foot longer than the wee Rio. 

Could Kia be employing a two-fer strategy? It’s not out of the question, especially with corporate cousin Hyundai ditching the Accent. Selling one small car and a bevy of subcompact crossovers would make a lot of sense given the buying tastes of most American shoppers. We’ve recently seen such consolidation at German brands, most notably with the upcoming CLE replacing both the C- and E-Class coupes at Mercedes-Benz.

Kia says the new K3 will be available in select markets starting from the fourth quarter of this year, with details on launch dates and model specifications to be announced by each country in due course. Does that include America or is this car just bound for emerging markets? We’ll have to wait and see.

[Images: Kia]

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