Despite its budget image, Kia fully intends to outdo its rivals in the green stakes by improving the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 20% over the next five years. At the same time, it hopes to see carbon dioxide emissions levels fall from its fleet average of 163g/km to around 140g/km in 2009 and 130g/km by 2012.

Some of its vehicles have already hit the magic 130g/km mark, but larger and more powerful V6 models like the Magentis and Sportage are no where near this level. An engineer admitted to reporters from What Car? that “current technologies cannot help” and the goal will be “a challenging target”.

Developers will look at improving the efficiency of almost every part of the car, from engines to transmissions and tires. Kia will also introduce more diesel models, direct-injection gasoline engines and even hybrids. There are currently two hybrid vehicles in the works, a Prius-style model and a large SUV. Hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains are also in consideration, but won't make it into production anytime soon.

Other technologies being evaluated include efficient dual-clutch gearboxes, stop-go systems that turn off the engine during heavy traffic situations and power steering systems that draw power from the battery rather than the engine.