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Geneva
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Kia Motors Corp. says a production version of its new B-segment MPV concept bowing today at the Geneva auto show should hit the European market late this year or early in 2010.

“The corporation’s new product pipeline remains strong,” Hyoung-Keun Lee, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer-International Business Div., says in a release.

Meanwhile, Kia says its global vehicle sales rose 8.4% last year to 1.376 million units.

While deliveries in Western and Eastern Europe slumped 2.3% to 335,138 units, a far cry from the 34.2% increase seen in China, Kia nevertheless says it is encouraged by market share gains in Europe.

The No.3 concept was helmed by Chief Designer Gregory Guillaume at the Kia Design Centre Europe in Frankfurt and “brings all the features and strengths of a highly versatile multipurpose vehicle (MPV) into the urban compact class,” Kia says.

With a long wheelbase and short overhangs in the front and rear of the vehicle, as well as “generous” interior height, the No.3 has typical MPV characteristics. Its unique arrangement of the radiator grille, headlights and brand logo represent the new face of Kia that will be rolled out on future models.

“Horizontally oriented, the radiator grille comes with a double trapezoid contour that is instantly recognizable, tapering out towards the middle and extending into slender lines at the side,” Kia says.

The headlights are extra-large and “reach far into the side section,” and the Kia logo is on the center line, right above the radiator grille.

A key feature of the No.3 is an “extra-large panorama glass roof” that begins at the windshield and reaches back to the rear spoiler.

The glass roof gives a “truly generous feeling of interior space,” Kia says.

On the driver’s side, a visor resembling a fighter pilot’s helmet coated in gold is fastened to the outer roof frame, the auto maker says. It runs on a guide rail parallel down the center of the roof and moves as instructed by a solar sensor to keep the sun out of a driver’s eyes.

The concept rides on 19-in. alloy wheels, with rims painted black on the outside and glossy chrome on the inside, and widely flared wheel arches in the front of the car lend “a particularly wide and muscular look.”

The No.3 concept’s interior seats five and features high-gloss white paint and piano black trim. The navigation, stereo, air conditioning and internet systems can be controlled with a “turn and push” center unit.

The front seats are covered in a water-repellant textile in a matte “Stardust Gold” color.

Meanwhile, Kia also divulges further details of its Cee’d hybrid-electric vehicle and Cee’d with Idle Stop & Go system.

Kia now says a fleet of prototype Cee’d hybrids will undergo testing in Europe and North America. The vehicle employs a 1.6L Gamma gas engine mated to a 15 kW (20 hp) AC synchronized electric motor. The motor makes 77 lb.-ft. (105 Nm) maximum of torque from 1,500 rpm. It features a continuously variable transmission and the ISG system, both developed by Kia.

Like Hyundai’s i30 Blue, the Cee’d with ISG offers a choice of 1.4L or 1.6L gas engines and comes in a range of body styles: 5-door hatchback, 5-door wagon and 3-door Kia Pro_cee’d.

Kia says full-scale production of the Cee’d with ISG began in Slovakia last December, and units now are being delivered to European customers.

“The Kia Cee’d has already established itself as a genuine rival to class-leading vehicles in the C-segment,” says Panu Vainamo, general manager marketing for Kia Motors Europe. “Now, we are proud to rapidly transfer the ISG features from our ‘green-performance’ Eco_cee’d concept car, shown at Geneva last year, to the Kia Cee’d ISG production model, which is exhibited this year and is now on sale in many countries.

“With a (carbon-dioxide) rating from just 137 g/km, the ISG innovation will maintain the Cee’d as a highly competitive challenger in its class.”

Kia says “similar ISG technology” will debut later this year in upgraded 1.6L diesel Cee’ds, as well as other future models.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com