Kia is planning to roll-out its advanced voice-activation and telematics system called UVO across Europe next year.

Co-developed with Microsoft, it uses voice recognition to allow drivers to control their phone, MP3 player and other car controls without having to remove their hands from the steering wheel.

Kia sees UVO as a rival to Ford’s SYNC system and it is not dissimilar to the ‘Blue and Me’ system, also developed with Microsoft, Fiat launched several years ago when it redesigned the Punto.

But UVO, an abbreviation of ‘your voice’, offers more control and interaction.

The car can read out mobile phone SMS text messages – also available elsewhere – but the Kia system allows the driver to dictate replies.

A Kia spokesman said: “Vehicles equipped with UVO can access media content and connect with people through simple, quick voice commands without having to navigate through menus.  By supporting complex grammar, UVO needs only short voice commands to connect drivers and passengers with their desired functions. An interactive system, UVO responds to inquiries such as ‘What’s playing?’ and provides audible answers and related functions, helping to keep drivers’ eyes safely focused on the road ahead of them.”

UVO links to mobile phones using Bluetooth and is already in the latest Kia models sold in the US. It is expected to reach Europe next year, possibly in the redesigned Magentis due in autumn 2011.

The system also allows voice control of phone, audio and MP3 devices and CD contents can be downloaded to the 1Gb internal memory.

The system is said to give greater control and interaction for features such as storing radio presets and adding music play lists.