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Kia Rondo compact seven-seater styles up

This will be the third-generation of the Rondo and Kia hopes its redesign will expand its audience.

Families wanting a compact seven-seater that's not an SUV have a choice of - one. Kia will launch an all-new Rondo about April next year in its “category of one” that sits on a fresh platform and boasts more cabin room, better economy and a more attractive design. “I don't think this can be considered a permanent seven seater,'' says Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth.

“But it certainly is capable of seating up to seven and it has a very flexible and roomy interior. “It's styled and engineered for buyers who want all the versatility and space of an SUV, but don't want to be seen in an SUV.''

This will be the third-generation of the Rondo - the first model came here as the Carens - and Kia hopes its redesign will expand its audience. The new Rondo, expected to sit on a lengthened Cerato platform, is likely to retain a 2-litre engine and manual and automatic transmission choices, come in two trim levels and be priced similar to the current models' $26,000 and $32,000.

The Rondo goes on display at this month's Paris motor show, along with Kia's Optima Hybrid - which is not on the Australian boat - and the next Sorento SUV. Kia Australia says the Sorento, due here early next month, won't follow the market lead set by its associate company, Hyundai, when it recently launched the Santa Fe.

The Sorento will come with the option of a 3.5-litre petrol V6 and as a front-wheel drive version - both not available on the Santa Fe. For Australia, the range will be a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, the V6 petrol and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Mr Hepworth says a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol model is under consideration for Australia. This 145kW direct-petrol injection engine is also fitted to the Optima sedan and is to be added to the European and UK range from the end of this year.