Kia Motors' Sport 'Concept' Car unveiled at the Paris show looks like another production-ready model, albeit with a slightly more 'show-style' interior and exterior detailing than Ford's apparently production-ready Focus Vignale coupe-cabriolet.

Unlike Ford, which claimed it was only considering expanding the Focus line into new niches, Kia made no bones about stating that the Sport is based on the five-door hatchback version of its upcoming all-new B-segment (supermini) model line slated for launch next spring, and would go into production if show visitor reaction was favourable.

Power for the bright yellow concept comes from a special two-litre, 200PS turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Given the slew of new models from the South Koreans of late - e.g. Kia's own RAV4-hunting redesigned Sportage SUV - it would not be a surprise to see this engine in production soon.

Using a mundane hatchback as a base, the Kia stylists came up with a sporty-looking concept car said to reflect their employer's vision of its small car design philosophy.

The wide air intake and front air-dam, "linear grille graphics", sleek profile, prominent wheel arches, 18-inch diameter five-spoke alloy wheels, dual exhausts, sweeping rear lamp clusters, bold yellow paint and roof-top aerodynamic wing are not all likely to ever see production but they do show that, underneath the show pizazz items, Kia is readying an attractive little hatch (the preferred body style of B-class buyers in Europe) that should offer adequate, if not class-leading, performance and driving dynamics and plenty of equipment for a competitive price - much like the recently launched C-segment Cerato model line.

Full details of the as yet unnamed B-class entry are still under wraps but Kia has said the concept is 4,150 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,470 mm high on a 2,500 mm wheelbase.

The show car -apparently the designers' vision of how a top sports version might look - has a cabin described as 'driver-oriented' with a mix of leather and metal materials - yellow and dark grey leather features on the seats, door trims and centre console. The metal finish centre console houses satellite navigation, DVD player and climate control and there are also metal highlights on the gear selector, steering wheel, and centre console.

Just like Ford with its Focus coupe-cab, Kia maintains the pretence the sporty version shown at Paris is really, honest, just a concept.

"The bold, bright Sport concept car is another milestone in Kia's journey to become a top five global car maker. It has been created with young European consumers very much in mind. Depending on public reaction to this sensational show car, a full production version may be introduced during 2006," a spokesman said.

Kia did confirm, however, the rest of its new B-segment line definitely will be launched next spring, offering four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, and petrol and diesel engines.

Graeme Roberts

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