All-new versions of the Kia Forte sedan and Rondo crossover will go on sale in early 2013, Kia Canada confirmed this week, with the South Korean firm recently unveiling photos of the slickly styled Kia compact sedan.
To be called the K3 when it goes on sale in its home market of South Korea later this year, or the Cerato in some non-North American markets, the Forte will become the latest member of the Kia family to adopt the brand’s aggressively sophisticated new design language, courtesy of its influential head of design, Peter Schreyer.
Next up to receive this treatment will be the Kia Rondo compact people-mover, or mini-minivan. Kia has released fairly detailed teaser images that show a much-slicker Rondo design, with a face very similar to the new Forte, its large headlights stretching rearward to the base of the seriously swept-back windshield, larger wheels, and a more curvaceous and lower roofline.
Unlike the current Rondo, it appears that designers were given the freedom to give up a bit of interior room in the name of fetching design, though it will be based on a longer wheelbase. The regular four-doors will remain, instead of the rival Mazda5’s sliding rear doors, while a third row will also likely remain available.
No mechanical specs were revealed for the new Rondo, also called the Carens in other markets, but all will be revealed closer to its public debut in late September during the Paris auto show.
As for the Forte, Kia is being similarly coy on its mechanicals, though one Kia Canada official confirmed this week that, while the Forte and Rondo will both arrive in early 2013, a five-door Forte will follow soon after. Like its sister brand Hyundai, which just released hatchback and two-door coupe versions of its popular Elantra compact sedan, the Kia Forte is also expected to spawn a sportier coupe model.
Mazda6 sedan to debut in Moscow
The all-new Mazda6 sedan will be publicly revealed at the end of August in Russia at the Moscow auto show, highlighted by a swoopier design and a new brake energy regeneration system Mazda calls i-ELOOP.
Going against the trend in auto manufacturing, the latest Mazda6 moves production from North America back to Japan, where companies have admitted that persistently high yen values have made it difficult to build and sell cars around the world profitably, especially smaller cars. The mid-size Mazda6 (Atenza in Japan) will sit near the top of Mazda’s product range in North America, now that the RX-8 rotary-engined sports car is officially off the market.
Mazda is already calling the upcoming 6 its flagship model. That may sound strange to many ears, but with Ford now almost completely removed from Mazda’s ownership structure, the Japanese company no longer has long corporate tentacles with which to share products and precious research and development funding.
The Russian-market Mazda6 on display will feature a 2.0-litre SkyActiv gasoline engine, and a six-speed automatic transmission, both of which will likely make it to North America.
Cadillac planning new full-size flagship model
General Motors has reportedly given the go-ahead to a full-size Cadillac rival to the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class; the rear-wheel-drive luxury model is set to arrive in 2015, or about three years after the debut of the Oshawa, Ont.-built full-size XTS front-wheel-drive sedan.
Combine those two Caddy sedans with a bigger CTS planned to launch in the second half of 2013, and that’s a whole lot of large four-door luxury coming soon to Cadillac, but trade journal Automotive News reports that the new RWD luxury model is seen as a key piece for the brand in China. Therefore, it will be built on a new platform, and is expected to offer all-wheel-drive, a V-8 option and styling cues derived from Caddy’s Ciel four-door convertible concept, with its Rolls-Royce Phantom-like rear-hinged doors.
The ATS sedan set to debut in Canada in September will give Cadillac a performance-oriented 3-Series rival, which the CTS supposedly offered when it launched, though more with a formula of 5-Series-like room with 3-Series prices. Two-door coupe and higher-performing V-Series ATS models will also be part of this mix, likely in 2014, reported AN, with the plug-in ELR coupe using Volt technology planned to arrive late in 2013.
Revised Lexus LS revealed
Lexus recently revealed the heavily revised 2013 LS sedan, including an all-new F-Sport model that promises to bring some performance spice for the first time to Lexus’ luxury flagship sedan, as well as the LS 460 and LS 600h hybrid.
Lexus says it incorporates more than 3,000 changes to this year’s revision, including 15 firsts for the company, and a few world firsts.
Those world firsts include an advanced automatic climate control system that uses up to 13 sensors to help control the temperature of all outboard seats as well as the steering wheel rim, and a dynamic LED interior illumination system.
Some firsts for Lexus include all-LED exterior lighting, hollow-chamber noise-reduction wheels and a Blu-Ray player available for rear-seat riders.
The sportier F-Sport models receive more aggressive exterior and interior design cues, including a 10-mm lower ride height, Brembo six-pot caliper front brakes, paddle shift controls with rev-matching, and an intake sound generator that pumps the noise and vibration of the intake pulse into the cabin.