Warmed-up 150kW twins on track for launch by early 2019, joining Stinger halo

Kia Australia will add two go-fast ‘GT’ versions of its new Cerato small car by early 2019 to complement the Stinger brand-builder.

The Cerato GT (expected name) will come in both hatch and sedan body styles, giving Kia dealers two affordable image leaders in the same mould as the related Hyundai i30 SR and Elantra SR twins.

Kia Australia launched the regular Cerato sedan – known as the Forte in the US, where it was designed – last week, and will launch the new hatch body in either the fourth quarter of this year or early 2019. Next year’s Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis in January, perhaps?

All things going to plan, the sharpened GT versions of both hatch and sedan will be ready to roll at the same time as this ‘regular’ mass-market Cerato hatchback offering, with a concurrent launch suggested over this period.

“If it’s [GT] ready, and we’re hoping that it will be, we would launch at the same time,” Kia Australia COO, Damien Meredith, told us, "we will go with both [bodies].”

The Cerato GT is hardly a secret. We’ve already captured the related European Ceed GT in development a number of times (pictured above). The existence of the i30 and Elantra SR twins make the mechanicals easy to guess.

It’s hard to imagine it being powered by anything other than the 1.6-litre turbo four that already features in the related Hyundai SRs, where it makes 150kW/265Nm, driving the front wheels through the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

The presence of an auto should ensure more sales success than the axed manual-only Kia Pro_Cee'd GT (what an awful name) cult classic.

On top of this, expect independent rear suspension, and the full gamut of Australian-market engineering evaluation/localisation and tuning every volume Kia already receives.

This means that, all things going to plan, Kia Australia’s Cerato family will comprise regular hatch and sedan models, each capped-off with a hotted-up GT variant priced in the mid-high $20k range at entry, by the first few months of next year.

The company has doubled its volumes over the past four years, and outsold Holden and Volkswagen last month. But now it clearly sees the chance to work on the desirability factor, a ball set rolling by the aforementioned Stinger.