Australia’s response to Kia’s first-ever three-door hot hatch, the new Pro_Cee’d GT, has left the company’s local arm a little underwhelmed.
Fact is, it’s a good car. It’s a great car, really, and a sterling first go at the segment. But with just 190 sales since its March launch, Kia admits the Pro_Cee’d GT is not where it needs to be.
Where’s the problem, then?
Speaking with press this week, Kia Australia’s new Chief Operating Officer, Damien Meredith, admitted the company has not put the legwork into promoting its most exciting product.
He’d know. Meredith has been on the job at Kia for just six weeks, but he comes from stablemate Hyundai, whose hero Veloster (1633 sales year-to-date) is running rings around both the Pro_Cee’d GT and the two-door Cerato Koup (341) combined.
“Pro_Cee’d is a halo car for us, and we haven’t done enough with it at this point in time. We need to highlight that vehicle,” Mr Meredith said.
“It’s a car that gives us that youthfulness we push for, it has the halo effect”.
Those comments were accompanied by a frank discussion of Kia’s underperforming Cerato range, currently languishing at 11th place in the small-car segment.
Like the Pro_Cee’d, Mr Meredith believes the Cerato “deserves a lot better than that”.
He hopes to push the volume-selling Cerato to 5th place, leap-frogging the likes of Mitsubishi’s ageing Lancer, Hyundai’s Elantra (the i30’s sedan sibling), Honda’s Civic range and Nissan’s new Pulsar models.
Mr Meredith’s goals for the for the Pro_Cee’d GT are less ambitious, but he does expect monthly sales to eventually sit at around double its results for June.
“Goal with Pro Cee’d is to sell around 100 a month, and we’re well short of that right now,” he said.
“It’s time for the consumer to understand that we’ve got a fantastic product, it’s put together with high quality and that’s where we’ve got to focus”.
The addition of an automatic transmission - such as the company's new seven-speed dual-clutch unit - could also work to boost sales. At this point, Kia has yet to confirm plans in that direction.
The Australian market has a proven preference for automatic shifters, and the absence of such an option has put the Pro_Cee'd GT behind the eight-ball.
But, if Kia can retrace its steps to the campaign that saw the Pro_Cee’d GT lock in 68 sales in March, it would be well on its way to reaching Damien Meredith's goals.