The long-rumoured Kia GT sports sedan is all-but certain to hit showroom floors in Australia in the third quarter of 2017.
Kia Australia has made it clear that it plans to offer the yet-to-be-confirmed and yet-to-be-revealed new rear-wheel-drive sedan late next year.
Damien Meredith, Kia Australia chief operating officer, told CarAdvice this week that the new model, known internally as CK and presaged by the stunning GT concept car, promises to offer the brand something that Aussie buyers will soon come to miss: a larger, rear-drive sedan designed with Australian driving tastes in mind.
“CK will be unbelievable,” said Meredith of the new model, which will follow the rest of the Kia range in being tuned by local engineers to cope with our challenging local conditions.
“Once it’s officially announced we will be first in line,” he said, before saying that the new model would be here in about “15 months”.
Meredith made it clear that the car’s point of difference is that it will be the first rear-drive passenger vehicle offered by Kia in Australia.
“That’s the big difference,” he said.
“CK is replacing nothing. That’s just new,” he said. “It’s sort of a different product outside that [regular sedan range]: if you look at Optima and K7/Cadenza, and then at K9, it’s really out of there,” he said.
When asked if 2017 is an ideal time for a Kia large sedan to be launched, Meredith suggested there will be gaps to be filled for performance-oriented rear-drive sedans.
“Yes it is. Because I can guarantee that we’ll price it right. And we won’t be outlandish with our view on that. But we’re really confident about when it comes, when it’s officially launched.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us. In regards to the timing of that vehicle entering the marketplace, and the unfortunate closure of Australian manufacturing, I think it’s a great opportunity for us. The timing is just spot on, to be quite honest.
“We will be sensible about our price points with the car. Ideally we would love it to be in that segment that’s under luxury car tax, somewhere just above – just above – Optima. If you work in that band, that’s where we want to be,” he said.
Going by that maths, buyers can expect a price tag below $60,000 – which is the level that sister brand Hyundai has positioned its luxury offering, the Genesis. It’s also above where the Optima medium sedan range tops out at $43,990 plus on-road costs. Meredith told CarAdvice at a recent launch event that the brand would like to offer a sub-$40,000 model and a sub-$50,000 model.
“We are really happy with what’s happened with Optima. We struggled to do triple figures with the old Optima. The new Optima is doing about 130 or 150 a month, so we’re very happy with how that’s going,” he said, clearly suggesting there could be space for some more sales – if not a huge number – on top of that when the new model arrives.
As for what will be under the bonnet, it may not be a V8 engine as was the case for the GT concept car.
“The challenge might be getting a V8 in,” Meredith said. “That may not be the configuration that we’re looking at. We’re not going to be out of control.”
Instead, a V6 engine – or maybe two – could be offered: nothing is confirmed yet, but it may follow a similar global strategy as the Genesis model (recently renamed G80), which has a 3.3-litre turbo V6, a regular 3.8-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8.
“I think every manufacturer in the world will be doing that,” he said of downsized turbocharged engines.