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Kia to spice up Cerato range with GT

Brief visitor: The Kia Pro_cee'd GT only lasted about 18 months on the Australian market after being discontinued due to slow sales last year.

Cerato hot hatch on the cards in Australia to fill Pro_cee'd GT hole


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25 Jan 2016

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) is looking to fill the gap left by the discontinued Pro_cee'd GT hot hatch by introducing a spicy version of its Cerato hatch in the coming years.

The Korean car-maker took the Pro_cee'd GT off its roster last year after slow sales that were not helped by its manual gearbox-only status.

The likeable three-door was sourced from Slovakia where the previous-generation Sportage SUV was also imported from, however a switch in sourcing back to South Korea for the new Sportage meant the continued business case for the Pro_cee'd just did not stack up.

Speaking with journalists at the fourth-generation Sportage launch in Ballarat, Victoria, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said a warmed-up version of the Cerato is on the cards.

“In our medium-term plan what we want to do is have a GT Cerato,” he said. “It has been incredibly successful for Volkswagen and we would like to follow that same pattern of models. To us we are going to get more volume out of that.” Mr Meredith acknowledged that the Pro_cee'd was a great car for the brand in Australia, and suggested a similar offering could help Kia appeal to those same buyers.

“Pro_cee’d is a fantastic car but we were handcuffed because it only came in manual. Eighty per cent of sportscars are autos. We need to get a GTI-type Cerato into the marketplace that will give us a bit of critical mass and we believe that will happen.” When asked if the sporty Cerato would be sourced from the same Korean factory as the regular variants, Mr Meredith said that was likely, but added that it was not happening in the short term.

“That will be the plan for us to do something along those lines. That won't happen tomorrow but it is in our plan to do that.” In Europe, Kia offers a GT version of its five-door cee'd hatch that uses the same 150kW/265Nm turbocharged four-pot found in the three-door Pro_cee'd. The cee'd is the mechanical twin of the Cerato.

The two-door Cerato Koup is still available in Australia in naturally aspirated Si guise from $24,190 or Turbo spec from $28,190 plus on-road costs.

A mid-life update for the Cerato is heading to Australia late in quarter one, bringing improvements to the cabin and new front-end styling that is in keeping with its larger Optima stablemate.

There is a version of the new Cerato on show at the Australian Open tennis championship, alongside the Picanto city hatch that will debut in the coming months.

One model that will not be headed Down Under is the Optima wagon that was previewed by the Sportspace concept at last year's Geneva motor show.

Mr Meredith said while he would “love to say yes” to a load-lugging version of the Optima, shrinking sales in the mid-size segment would make it a tough sell.

“The medium segment is really interesting because you have such a great product selection in there with Volkswagen, Mazda, ourselves and more, but the market is really tight and it’s not really growing at all so it would be probably not the right time to bring a wagon into that medium segment.” The Pro_cee'd GT launched in Australia in February 2014 and found 381 homes that year, well off the pace of the sub-$80,000 sportscar segment leaders, the Toyota 86 (4257) and the Hyundai Veloster (3405).

Its 2015 haul of 378 units was outpaced by the likes of Holden's three-door Astra Sport range (763) the Nissan 370Z (434) and Subaru BRZ (607) but just edged out Volkswagen's Scirocco (367).

The Cerato Koup clocked up 531 sales in 2014 but experienced a sharp drop off of 55.7 per cent in 2015 with just 235 units shifted.

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