Paris sets the scene for the unveiling of several hot and exciting new hatchbacks including the captivating Kia Sport concept, capable of pushing out a handy 149 kW.

Paris sets the scene for the unveiling of several hot and exciting new hatchbacks, including the captivating Kia Sport concept, capable of pushing out a handy 149 kW.

In preparation for Kia's launch of its new subcompact in saloon and hatchback guise early next year, the Korean outfit has revealed a hot little number to start the salivating.

Called the Kia Sport, it receives its power from a turbocharged 149 kW, 2,0-litre engine.

Drive to the yellow rocket's front wheels is via a five-speed automatic transmission.

The car looks the sporty part with its body kit, prominent air intake at the front, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhausts and imposing roof spoiler. The concept's interior styling is a mix of leather and metal finishes. Two-tone yellow and grey leather is incorporated into the seats, door trim and centre console while the facia receives a metallic finish. Kia's dazzling concept comes complete with satellite navigation, a DVD player and climate control.

Senior executive director of Kia Motors Yong-Hwan Kim said at the show that the car was meant to appeal to 20 to 30 year-olds with an "active lifestyle".

"The bold, bright Kia Sport concept car is another milestone in Kia's journey to become a top global car maker. Depending on public reaction to this sensational show car, a full production version may be introduced during 2006," Kim said.

Also on public display for the first time to hordes of adoring fans is Volkswagen's fifth-generation GTI. Pounding out 147 kW and 280 N.m of torque between 1 800 and 5 000 r/min, the iconic hatch remains a force to be reckoned with despite the explosion of racy counterparts.

From the front, the Golf cuts a powerful presence with its black grille with three large diamond mesh-covered airdams dominating the front. Wider side sills and darkened headlight housings sets the GTI apart from its regular Golf siblings, while at the rear, it is distinguished by awesome twin tailpipes. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels complete the athletic look from the outside.

New seats with the GTI insignia, a sporty three-spoke leather steering wheel and aluminium accents peppered throughout the cabin provide a funky and different look.

Representing Opel's hot division, Astra's "High Performance Concept" in fiery red is one steamy competitor. Claimed to push out 176 kW and maximum torque of 310 N.m, it will be displayed alongside the striking three-door Astra GTC model.

Aggressive design notes sets this three-door apart; the front end has a low and wide airdam while the rear shows off a feisty dual exhaust system. Complete with red seats to match is exterior, massive 19-inch alloy wheels add to the car's fearsome presence.

Not to be outdone, Fiat's Paris display includes the Stilo "Michael Schumacher". Used in the Fiat Stilo advertisement as the F1 driver storms around a track, it is finished in "rosso corsa" (race red), and sports three "M Schumacher" badges.

With leather and aluminium trim adorning the cabin, it also comes with ESP and automatic climate control among other conveniences.

The commemorative model is equipped with the 2,4-litre 20 valve powerplant seen in the Stilo Abarth that produces 125 kW at 6 000 r/min and maximum torque of 221 N.m at 3 500 r/min. Fiat's Stilo Abarth was recently launched in South Africa.