Kia Motors, with European headquarters in Germany, is following western rivals like Volkswagen and General Motors by adding special 'eco' versions to its Slovak-built Ceed model line though they won't be available until early in 2009.

Production cars will be based on a concept car shown at last month's Frankfurt motor show.

The concept has Kia's 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine with modifications and equipment additions giving a 17% reduction in fuel consumption (3.9 litres/100km under certain test conditions), and lower CO2 emissions (104 g/km, down 8.4%).

This is mostly due to improved aerodynamics which brought the drag coefficient down from Cd 0.33 to 0.29, an 11% improvement.

Following wind-tunnel testing, engineers lowered the concept's suspension, fitted under-floor coverings to the front, middle and rear of the vehicle, adopted wheel arch linings with 'spoiler' lips to smooth airflow around the wheels, plus a low-drag front grille to improve air flow over the vehicle. Finally, ultra-low rolling resistance Michelin tyres were mounted on special 17-inch alloy wheels that generate minimum disturbance to the airflow along the sides of the car.

Engines for the 'eco' models will already comply with the Euro5 emissions regulations which come into force in January 2011. Engine changes which will come from the concept car include measures to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, such as reduced turbo boost pressure, enhanced fuel injection timing, modified residual gas rates and reductions in internal engine friction.

The economy versions will also have a new 'ISG' (Idle Stop&Go) system, including smart battery power management. This system, similar to that recently added to BMW and Mini models, has regenerative braking, which automatically recharges the battery during deceleration, and switches the engine off when the car is stopped and the engine is at idle, cutting both fuel consumption and emissions during typical stop-start city driving.

'Eco models will be fitted with a new six-speed manual gearbox instead of the five-speed used on standard cars.  Higher ratios for fourth, fifth and sixth gears will improve fuel consumption at motorway speeds.  First, second and third gears retain the standard ratios to ensure that the acceleration of the standard car is carried over. An ECU-controlled shift Indicator will also be fitted in the instrument cluster, displaying the optimum gear choice for the speed at which the car is travelling, and the ideal moment (based on road speed and engine speed) at which to change gear.

Eco models will be offered with all three Ceed body styles - three- and five-door hatchbacks and a five-door wagon.