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Kia overview

Founded in 1944, the Kia Corporation – widely known as Kia – is a South Korean vehicle manufacturer. It is Korea’s oldest manufacturer, second only in size to its parent company, Hyundai Motor Company. With a reputation for building high-quality, reliable and affordable vehicles, Kia is now one of the most popular automotive brands in the UK.

Originally, Kia was founded as Kyungsung Precision Industry, a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, and in 1951 it produced Korea’s first domestic bicycle. A year later, it changed its name to Kia Industries and began producing motorcycles, trucks and, in the 1970s, cars. Pronounced kee-yah in English, the name Kia derives from a combination of Sino-Korean characters that mean ‘to arise’ and ‘Asia’ – meaning ‘rising from Asia.’


Popular Kia models

Used Kia cars are popular on the UK market, appealing to a range of buyer profiles – from family drivers seeking space and comfort, to eco-minded buyers seeking reliable EVs or hybrids. One of Kia’s most popular models is the Picanto. Launched in the mid 2000s, it has remained an ever-present feature in Kia’s lineup. A sleek yet affordable offering, its Mk3 was voted What Car?’s Best Value Car in 2020.

The Kia Rio is a subcompact model in the South Korean manufacturer’s line up, and another main stay since its launch in 2000. Its Mk4 is its most stylish and practical iteration, serving as a family car with plenty of tech to match its modern design. Another of Kia’s compact models is the Ceed. Similarly practical to other members of the Kia cohort, the Ceed is larger than the Rio, and comes with mild hybrid technology.

Kia’s most popular car in recent years has been the Sportage, a compact SUV. Like many of the manufacturer’s models, the Sportage has been on the roads for more than two decades and has seen major developments across its five generations. With a plush interior and ample space throughout, the Mk5 won the What Car? Award for Best Family SUV in 2023.

One of Kia’s newest models is the Niro, a compact crossover SUV. First launched in 2016, the Niro made headlines when it won the Guinness World Record in the same year for the lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid vehicle. A Mk2 was launched in 2021 with an all-electric motor. Another of its new-form SUVs is the Kia Stonic. Launched a year after the Niro, the Stonic is a direct rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 thanks to its modern design and agile handling on urban roads.

With both a five-seater and seven-seater option, the Kia Sorento is one of the manufacturer’s most iconic models. With a huge space offering, the Sorento has the power and the practicality to set it apart as one of the most family-friendly cars on the market, winning numerous awards in this vein since its release in 2020. It received a facelift in 2023, with a host of ultra-modern tech features added to improve comfort and enhance driver assistance.


Manufacturer awards

Named Manufacturer of the Year at the 2023 AM Awards, Kia has built an excellent global reputation for reliability and low maintenance. It is also spearheading the charge for the electric vehicle market. With various sustainable options, from hybrids to fully electric cars, buyers can choose from the Sorento Plug-In Hybrid to the Niro EV, Soul EV or the EV6. Models span family-sized SUVs to hatchbacks and the sporty EV6, so Kia has electric options for all buyers. The success of Kia’s eclectic EV mix is demonstrated by its Soul EV winning Best Value Electric Car at the Auto Trader New Car Awards in 2023, while the EV6 won New Car of the Year.

Alongside its pioneering electric options, Kia’s innovation extends to its wealth of impressive driver assist and comfort features that buyers might expect from luxury brands like Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Across its mid- and higher-entry trim levels, newer models are equipped with high-tech kit like a 360-degree view parking monitor or Kia’s Heads-up Display that collects real-time driving information like speed limits, blind spot information and navigation instructions. Plus, you can expect premium Kia options to include a JBL Premium Sound System equipped with Harman Clari-Fi technology for an optimised audio experience.


Kia frequently asked questions


Who owns Kia?

Kia is part-owned by its parent company, the Hyundai Motor Company. This 33% ownership makes Hyundai the technical owner of the Kia brand. Employee stock ownership sits at 2%.

Who makes Kia cars?

Kia cars are built by Kia Corporation, a South Korean company part-owned by Hyundai Motor Company. As Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Company also owns two luxury vehicle subsidiaries: Genesis and IONIQ. Kia is Korea’s oldest automobile manufacturer.

When was Kia founded?

Kia was founded in May 1944 under its original name, Kyungsung Precision Industry. Initially, it was a manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycle parts, later moving to the production of domestic bicycles. It began manufacturing cars in the 1970s.

Where are Kia cars made?

While the Kia brand originated in South Korea, growing global demand has seen it establish numerous manufacturing locations worldwide. Its 14 facilities span 8 countries; alongside its South Korean HQ in Seoul, it has plants in China, India, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia, the US, and Vietnam.

Who makes Kia engines?

Most Kia engines are manufactured by the brand’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Company. These engines include the Kappa, Gamma, and Theta engines. However, Kia also produces some of its own engines, including the GEMA, which features more heavily in older models.

How reliable are Kia cars?

Kia has established a first-class reputation in the UK car market as being both reliable and affordable. This is demonstrated by impressive sales figures. It ranks as one of the most popular brands on the market – and numerous awards, including being named ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ at the 2023 AM awards, is testament to how reliable Kia cars are.

What does Kia stand for?

The name Kia originates from a combination of Sino-Korean characters that mean ‘to arise’, and ‘Asia’, which translates as ‘rising from Asia.’

Where are Kia cars made for the UK?

While Kia has manufacturing plants in eight countries, it does not have a base in the UK. Its only European manufacturing base is in Slovakia. However, Kia does maintain a large distribution centre in North Lincolnshire.

How much is a Kia?

Kia has been on the UK market for decades, prices vary depending on the age and the model. New models can range anywhere between £13,000 and £76,000, while used Kias can be found at a cheaper rate depending on their service history and mileage. Check our stock of used Kia cars for sale for more information on price.

How much is a Kia electric car?

Since Kia has such a wealth of electric vehicle options, spanning fully electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid, there is a broad price range. The more compact electric models will be more affordable than SUVs, but the price is also impacted by the chosen trim level since any additional high-tech equipment will see the model cost increase.

How much is a Kia service?

The cost of a Kia service is highly dependent on the age and model of your car and the type of work that might be required. Please contact your nearest Kia Arnold Clark branch to find out the best servicing option available.

How do I update my Kia navigation system in the UK?

Provided your Kia is Model Year 22 onwards, you can update the Kia navigation system ‘over the air.’ Check the software version via the ‘Settings’ function on your vehicle’s home screen – it should operate automatically, updating twice per year.

Kia or Hyundai which is better?

Choosing between Kia and Hyundai comes down to personal preference. While both have their unique benefits, Hyundai Motor Company is the parent company of Kia and manufactures most of its new engines, so they share a lot of similarities in their tech and their design.

What is Kia Connect?

Kia Connect offers drivers a suite of connection services via an app that offers ‘the very best Kia experience,’ according to Kia. These include a ‘Find My Car’ function, Valet Mode, which allows you to track your vehicle if you hand your keys to someone else, and a battery status and control function for hybrid and EV cars.

What engines do Kia use?

The full Kia range includes vehicles with petrol and diesel engines, as well as using hybrid and fully electric options.

What does CRDI mean on a Kia?

CRDI stands for Common rail diesel injection. It is a regular feature among cars that are manufactured by the Hyundai Motor Company. A CRDI is a vital component of a diesel engine, as it ensures efficient and effective consumption of fuel.

How to pronounce Kia

It is pronounced kee-yah in English. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the pronunciation is ki.a.


Whether you’re looking to finance a Kia or purchase one, we have a wide range of second-hand Kia cars available to buy online safely with Click & Collect and home delivery options available.

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Representative example
Monthly Payment £194.79
Deposit £249
Term (Months) 42
Cash Price £9498
Credit Amount £9249.0
Completion Fee £1
Total Amount Payable £11,903
Fixed Interest Rate 5.6%
Representative APR 10.9%
Arnold Clark Automobiles Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (308092) for general insurance and consumer credit purposes. We act as a credit broker sourcing credit to assist with your purchase from a carefully selected panel of lenders. Lenders will pay us a fee for these introductions (click here for details including our panel of lenders and disclosure statement). Offers subject to status, terms and conditions.
* MPG figures are obtained in laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. Please be aware they’re not intended to represent real world efficiency.