Last year the critically acclaimed, but slow-selling Pro_Cee’d GT was cut from Kia’s range, the victim of a supply chain issue that made shipping the car out of Europe unviable.
While the car offered the right mix of performance and equipment, its availability as a three-door with a manual transmission limited its success in Australia, where overwhelmingly, performance car buyers are opting for automatic transmissions.
It’s a situation Kia Australia is acutely aware of, and something chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, is keen to resolve. Not with an updated version of the Pro_Cee’d however, but with a new GT variant of the Cerato hatch.
“In our medium-term plan what we want to do is we want to have a GT Cerato,” Mr Meredith declared.
“It’s been incredibly successful for Volkswagen [referring to the Golf GTI] and we’d like to follow that same pattern of models.”
Due to be updated later this year, the Cerato hatch will gain a performance variant modelled on the Cerato Koup, which offers a turbocharged engine with the choice of manual or automatic transmission, but this time providing a more accessible package, thanks to its hatchback body.
“To us, we’re going to get more volume out of that. Pro_Cee’d is a fantastic car, but we were handcuffed because it only came as a manual and eight percent of sports cars are autos.” Mr Meredith said.
Kia has already shown the updated Cerato sedan and hatch both in Korea as the K3, and at the recent Detroit auto show where it appeared under the Forte name.
Already sold in North America, the turbocharged Kia Forte5 SX looks like the most likely vehicle to be adapted for Australia.
Mr Meredith also hinted that Kia Australia’s goal was to source the Cerato GT from the same factory as the regular Cerato, to avoid any shipping issues like those that beset the Pro_Cee’d.
As for a timeline... “that won’t happen tomorrow” was all Damien Meredith would say. Nor would he offer any hints of potential performance, but it seems likely the Cerato GT will offer the same 150kW/265Nm 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder as the Koup Turbo and Pro_Cee’d GT.
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