Design Makes at Difference at Kia

Chances are, when you think of a subcompact car, the term “style-box” doesn’t come to mind.

Chances are, when you think of a subcompact car, the term “style-box” doesn’t come to mind. Rather, something that begins with an “s” and then goes to modify “box” might. For years, cars in this category have had about as much attention paid to them as institutional wallpaper.

But take a look at these.

The 2012 Kia Rio sedan:

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The 2012 Kia Rio hatch:

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These cars are to be launched later this year.

Both were designed at the Kia studio in Irvine, California, the same studio that brought the Kia Soul.

Technically, the cars, which ride on a new platform for the Rio, are similarly advanced, offering things ranging from gasoline direct injection (which helps achieve a projected 30/40 mpg) to an available UVO powered by Microsoft in-car hands-free communication and entertainment system (yes, the day of Ford having the “powered by Microsoft” system exclusively is now passed).

But simply consider the designs of these cars.

While it is too early for pricing, according to Edmunds.com, the MSRP for a current-generation Rio sedan is $12,295. So even assuming that the price for the new one is raised, it is still going to be in a range of economy.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t cost more to get attractive sheet metal. Crappy designs need to be designed, engineered, and tooled just as good ones do. For too long, the cars in the subcompact category have been of the former variety, not the latter.

We’re guessing the better styling is going to win in the market, and it doesn’t take a Kreskin to make that leap of cogitation.