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China has quickly become one of the most important markets for new car sales. Demand for cars in the People’s Republic has been so influential in the strategies of car manufacturers it was only a matter of time before companies designed cars specifically for the Chinese market and for the rest of the world (New Zealand included) to deal with.

All car sales growth in China are equal, but one type of car shape is selling more equally than the rest. SUVs and crossovers are quickly becoming the body style of choice for Chinese buyers. Luckily Kia’s B-segment SUV concept, which previews a future Nissan Juke rival, seems to be one that could fit with both local and global tastes. Unveiled at the Guangzhou Motor Show, which was somewhat overshadowed by the more glitzy LA Auto Show, the Kia KX3 is the end result of a joint venture between Kia and Dongfeng Yueda Kia (DYK).

The KX3 shows a new version of the trademark Kia Tiger Nose grille and is aimed directly at the younger end of the market. The front also has hints of Porsche Cayenne about it. Not sure if that was intentional or not but at least it’s a bit more subtle than the LandWind/Range Rover Evoque malarkey. The KX3 may be a ‘soft-roader’ but with its relatively high ground clearance and body cladding, it should be able to deal with the worst the urban jungle has to offer.

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Kia has previously mentioned it is working to launch a hybrid B-segment SUV within the next 18 months, which could mean should the KX3 go into production we can expect there to be a hybrid option too. The concept car is powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged petrol engine, mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission sending power to all four wheels. No word on whether it’ll go into production but judging from this ‘concept car’, don’t be surprised to see it on sale next year.

In a segment packed full of worthy rivals from the Nissan Juke, Holden Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Fiat 500X to the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Volkswagen CrossPolo, and Hyundai ix25, the Kia KX3 will come in late to a party that’s long been in play. It’d have to stay true to its tiger nose and leap beyond its rivals to survive.

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