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by Daniel DeGasperi

Kia Australia is looking at offering a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the Kia Sportage and facelifted Kia Optima range.

Speaking on the eve of the New York auto show, where the facelifted Optima will debut, Kia Australia PR manager Kevin Hepworth said that the early-2014 Australian introduction of the tweaked Optima could “possibly” be the right time to launch a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder variant.

While dismissing the likelihood of turbo petrol engine availability in the new-generation Cerato, which arrives locally in April, Hepworth remarked that “the more likely discussions – and this isn’t planning this is just discussions – is for Optima and Sportage” to get turbo petrol power in Australia.

Kia Sportage

In North America, both the Optima mid-sized sedan and Sportage compact SUV utilise the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine.

“They’re both cars that we’ve looked at and we are looking at,” added Hepworth.

Of the engine itself, the local PR boss says that “it is a really nice thing … it’s almost the equivalent power to the [Subaru] WRX.”

The turbo petrol engine produces 204kW of power at 6000rpm – marginally more than the WRX but less than the STI – and 365Nm of torque at 1750rpm, and in both applications mates with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Kia Pro_Cee'd GT

Hepworth says the decision is currently with the product planning team, but cautions that the introduction of the Pro_Cee’d GT later this year may affect the chances of a turbo petrol Optima and Sportage coming to Australia.

“You’ve got to pick a ‘hero’ car to start with.

“The Pro_Cee’d is not going to be a big volume car, but … I think it’s going to be a priority.

“But I wouldn’t say it [Optima and Sportage turbo] is impossible at all.”

The Pro_Cee’d GT is expected to launch in Australia early next year; the same time the facelifted Optima is expected to arrive.