The sporty Kia Pro_Cee’d GT may be gone from Australian showrooms, but the Korean car maker’s local arm has not given up on the dream of a quick halo hatch model.
Despite positive reviews, the 150kW 1.6-litre turbocharged Pro_cee’d GT exited the local market in late 2015 after poor sales led the company to decide against introducing the updated model that debuted overseas in June.
The company confirmed at the time of the Pro_cee’d GT’s retirement that the absence of an automatic transmission had not helped the model’s cause in the auto-obsessed Australian market, and three-door body styles have likewise struggled for any significant share here.
There’s hope on the horizon, however, with Kia Australia spokesperson Kevin Hepworth confirming that the company is currently “tossing up” between the Pro_Cee’d GT’s five-door sibling the Cee’d GT, and the next-generation Cerato Turbo.
In both cases, a five-door design and the availability of an automatic transmission would see Kia better positioned to tackle other top-shelf models in the volume-selling hatch market.
Speaking with CarAdvice at this week’s Geneva motor show in Switzerland, Hepworth said that the Cee’d GT has additional appeal in that it boasts an independent rear suspension design, opening the door to a more advanced sports tuning setup.
Above: Europe's five-door Cee'd GT hatch
Specifications for the top model in the next-generation Cerato range - which is expected to make its first appearance late next year - are yet to be confirmed, but an independent rear for the Turbo model may be among the headline stats.
With the incoming Korea-sourced, performance-focused and closely related Hyundai Elantra SR also known to be packing an independent rear, there is clearly potential for the next Cerato Turbo to feature a version of that setup.
Above: North America gets a special Cerato Turbo, but it won't be coming to Australia in its current form - if at all
A flagship sports model in the 2018 Cerato range would not only help to consolidate marketing and mechanical support costs, but it would likely also ensure a lower price of entry into the Korean-built sports model when compared with a Europe-sourced Cee’d GT strategy.
Whichever direction Kia Australia heads in, we shouldn’t expect to see a new hero model appear in local showrooms this year: product planning for the Cee’d GT would by this stage mean a 2017 launch, while a move towards the next-generation Cerato Turbo would likely stretch that timeline out to 2018.