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Kia’s next Cerato, Picanto held back

Small car, big task: Kia’s current five-door Cerato has proven a big hit in Australia, and is now expected to fulfil the role as a volume seller for at least another 18 months.

Crucial new Kia small and light contenders now not due Down Under until 2013

18 Aug 2011

KIA Motors Australia is preparing to soldier on with its current-generation Cerato small car until at least 2013, following an apparent decision by its Korean parent to delay the introduction of the redesigned Mk3 YD series.

The Australian subsidiary is also expecting strong European demand for the all-new Picanto to push the city car’s long-anticipated launch here into 2013, leaving the just-launched UB Rio – on sale from September 1 – and the current TD Cerato to carry the brand’s hopes in the key light and small passenger car market segments for the next 18 months or more.

After indicating to GoAuto at the Australian International Motor Show in July that the next-generation Cerato might not be seen here next year, Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Tony Barlow said this week said the company was confident the delay would not hinder the brand too much due to the strong standing of the current model.

Cerato sales are up 70 per cent this year on the back of the attractive five-door hatch version’s launch late last year, improved drivetrains and lower campaign prices for the sedan.

However, the Cerato will come under increasing pressure from redesigned, heavily upgraded and new variants of rival cars, such as the new MD-series Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Holden Cruze, to name just three.

“It’s part of the normal cycle that we would have been expecting it to come to an end soon,” Mr Barlow said.

17 center imageFrom top: Kia Rio sedan, Picanto three-door, Cerato sedan and current Soul.

“But we’ve had good acceptance of the latest version so we should be able to accommodate that extra period of time without a problem.”

Although Australian TD Cerato sedan sales commenced in early 2009 – and the two-door Koup coupe variant followed later in that year – the current second-generation series dates back to 2008 and is based on the superseded hardware of the discontinued Hyundai HD Elantra.

It replaced the dumpy LD Cerato range.

GoAuto understands that a decision was taken recently in Korea that the next Cerato, known as YD, would be held back, particularly as the well-received five-door has only been on sale in key Kia markets since last year. (The Cerato is sold as the Forte in Korea and the United States.)The upshot is that the YD Cerato will now debut Down Under in 2013 at the earliest. .

With Picanto, GoAuto sources admit that Australia is a low priority for the model, which has just entered its second-generation TA guise after the original SA’s successful seven-year stint overseas – particularly Europe, but also in its Korean home market, where it is sold as the Morning.

Nevertheless, Mr Barlow again all but confirmed that the five-door – rather than the newly unveiled Picanto three-door – will be a starter for Australia, albeit at a later date than first expected.

“There are three- and five-door options available to us,” Mr Barlow said.

“The A-segment market is moving so quickly that by the time we get to the next review stage we will have a clearer call on Picanto.

“We will look at what the customer wants in that segment. As we will be bringing out a three-door Rio in the first quarter of 2012, I think the five-door Picanto will be the right car for Australia.”

Also due for renewal in 2013 is the Soul, while all-new versions of the top-selling Carnival and the compact Rondo seven-seater people-mover are in the pipeline for replacement in 2014.

What’s coming from Kia:

UB Rio 5-dr Sept
UB Rio 3-dr, sedan Q1 2012
TA Picanto 4-dr 2013
YD Cerato 2013
Mk2 Soul 2013
Mk3 Carnival 2014
Rondo 2014

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