You only have to look at the popularity of such cars as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST/RS to understand that there is serious money in the hot-hatch segment. Not surprisingly, Kia is now reportedly considering launching its own hot hatch based on the recently revealed 2012 Kia Rio.

Speaking with Autocar, Kia’s marketing and product planning chief, Benny Oeyen, said a sportier version of the new Rio could help boost Kia’s image, especially in Europe where such cars are most popular. Other variants Oeyen hinted at during his interview included a convertible and coupe.

We already know that Kia will launch a sporty three-door version of its new Rio, as well as a more practical five-door and sedan. The car displayed recently at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show was also fitted with large alloy wheels, hinting at its performance potential.

North American versions of the latest Rio are expected to ship with a1.6-liter direct injection gasoline engine producing 138 horsepower, but it’s easy to envisage a more powerful version with a 1.8 or even a 2.0-liter mill running up against the Golf GTIs of the world.

For more details on the 2012 Kia Rio, click here.