Kia Motors Corp. debuts the first diesel engine for its Picanto A-segment car today at the Frankfurt auto show.

The 5-door hatchback, which bowed in spring 2004 in Europe, has helped grow the Kia brand there, with sales of 105,275 units through July 2005.

“This year we have sold more than 55,000 (Picantos) so far, up more than 200% on 2004,” says Jean-Charles Lievens, vice president-Kia Motors Europe. “As well as being great fun to drive, Picanto is the absolute embodiment of Kia's exciting brand aspirations, and it has attracted a host of new and younger customers to Kia showrooms.”

The Picanto Diesel is due by year-end. It will be powered by a 1.1L DOHC 12-valve common-rail 3-cyl. mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

The Picanto currently is available with a 1L or 1.1L gasoline engine, mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.

Kia Picanto

The Picanto's new diesel produces 74 hp at 4,000 rpm and 111 lb.-ft. (153 Nm) of torque at 1,900 rpm.

Kia promises a range of 497 miles (800 km) between fill-ups. The Picanto will be offered in two left-hand-drive trims, LX and EX.

Unique to the diesel Picanto is electric, rather than hydraulic, rack and pinion steering. The steering is slightly lower geared to reduce steering effort and bearing for the heavier vehicle.

Wheels are bigger, 14-ins. vs. 13-ins. for gasoline Picantos, as are brakes.

A tire mobility kit, including a small compressor and a liquid sealant, is standard on European Picantos, eliminating the need for a spare tire and cutting weight about 20 lbs. (9 kg), Kia says.

Meanwhile, Kia shows the Multi-S concept cross/utility vehicle at its booth, as well. The “S” stands for sporty, spacey and smart, the auto maker says.

The next-generation CUV combines the crossover vehicle and multipurpose vehicle/SUV, and is meant to appeal to individuals craving a car with “character” and an active family with children, Kia says.

The interior has a large center console, luggage box and overhead console for maximum storage space, plus rear air ventilation, best-in-class safety features, dual glass paneled roof, 19-in. alloy wheels and crash pad with cloth and aluminum.

The concept is powered by a 2L turbodiesel.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com