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Kia to turbocharge

Boosted: While the next-generation Kia Cerato remains under wraps, the GT concept from last year's Frankfurt show (left) previewed a new design direction for the brand.

New Cerato Koup will be first Kia to offer new 1.6-litre turbo engine next year

8 Mar 2012


KIA is working on a range of new turbocharged petrol engines including everything from a super-frugal 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder to a force-fed high-performance 5.0-litre V8.

In between, the Hyundai group’s new 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol four is expected to make its Kia debut – in tandem with the Korean brand’s first six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission – in the redesigned Cerato Koup within a year.

The 1.6 TGDI and six-speed DCT combination will make its Australian debut in Hyundai’s cheeky new Veloster Turbo coupe later this year, and should also power the redesigned Cerato small car due on sale here early next year, as well as the first Rio hot-hatch.

Hyundai-Kia’s new six-speed twin-clutch auto – already available here in the standard Veloster 1.6 GDI – has been confirmed to make its European debut in the redesigned C’eed small (C-segment) hatch, meaning it is also likely to make its local debut in Australia’s mechanically similar new Cerato due on sale here in early 2013.

Kia global powertrain engineering chief Joachim Hahn has now revealed that the first Kia model to offer the company’s 1.6 TGDI turbo four will also be a C-segment model, before being rolled out across other Kia models.

17 center imageLeft: Kia global powertrain engineering chief Joachim Hahn. Below: Hyundai Veloster turbo, Kia C'eed and Optima turbo.

“I cannot give you the information currently in which vehicle for the first time the 1.6 turbo GDI engine will come out in Kia, but I can inform you it will not be the Rio,” he told Australian journalists including GoAuto at this week’s Geneva motor show.

“Yes, we should look at turbo engines in Rio (but) the first Kia turbo will be in the C segment, not B segment – a variant of a C-segment car.

“What I can say currently is that we already produce a turbocharged direct-injection engine – we call it internally TGDI – and what we will bring out in Kia within the next 12 months is a European GDI turbocharged engine.”

While the 1.6 GDI belongs to the same Gamma engine family as the 1.4 and 1.6 MPI port-injection and GDI direct-injection engines, Dr Hahn said the company’s new DCT auto would be matched initially only with the 1.6 GDI engine.

“It is also planned to have the DCT transmission which we just are introducing in the first stage with our GDI engine. Direct injection will also be in conjunction with the DCT and another variation of this engine.”

Dr Hahn said the DCT, which for the first time allows an automatic Hyundai achieve the same fuel consumption as the manual version, would play a key role in reducing CO2 emissions.

“For us in Europe, it is not just a big step forward but absolutely necessary. The European market will drive the change from the torque-converter automatic to dual-clutch, especially to fulfil their demands in terms of CO2 emissions legislations.

“For example, the DCT in the C’eed in combination with the Gamma GDI engine is able to achieve 119g/km and this now, for the first time, is if you choose the double-clutch transmission or if you choose the manual transmission. In the past it was typical that you suffer from the choice of the automatic transmission.”

Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth said the Korean brand was excited by the prospect of its new Rio being powered by a 1.6 TGDI turbo-four, which in the Veloster Turbo lifts power to 155kW from 103kW for the naturally aspirated engine.

“The appearance of the Veloster Turbo shows a Rio turbo is technically possible,” said Mr Hepworth.

“We’d certainly like to see a hero car with turbo engine in our range. There will be an Optima, Cerato and Rio (turbo) opportunity, which is all it is at the moment, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Dr Hahn said that, while the 1.6 TGDI would be a sportier engine option in compact cars like the Rio and Cerato, it would represent a downsized entry-level engine in larger models like Optima.

“For this (B) segment, from a European perception it is not the understanding of a downsizing – it’s more the understanding of sporty,” he said.

“It is easy to come out with this concept with 180 horsepower (135kW) and more, which is in comparison to the market and to our current C-segment engine line-up.

“The same engine with adaptive application of course is also in future to be used as a downsizing concept, but then more for the D segment as the entrance powertrain.”

Kia Australia has long lamented the absence of right-hand-drive versions of the 2.0-litre Optima Turbo and Optima Hybrid sold in the US, but indicated this situation could soon change.

However, Mr Hepworth said the Optima Hybrid’s chances of being sold in Australia remained slim while sales of petrol-electric models like the Toyota Prius and Camry Hybrid remained slow.

“A right-hand-drive Optima Hybrid and Turbo now appears to be more likely from the factory, but hybrid is more difficult to justify the business case for given the historically low take-up rate of hybrids in Australia,” he said.

Dr Hahn said that, in the same way the 1.6 TGDI would spell the death knell for V6 power from Kia, the advent of a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine – like the one seen in Hyundai’s Ioniq range-extender EV at this week’s Geneva show – could negate the need for some naturally aspirated inline four-cylinder engines.

“The same question some markets have with the V6 contrary to the inline four-cylinder in Europe is a little bit like the comparison between the naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine against the turbo three-cylinder,” said Dr Kahn.

“It is the same story – once you decide to reduce your total displacement significantly, depending from where you start, you have to think about the number of cylinders. We are not only looking at it (a turbo-petrol triple), we have developed it.”

Dr Hahn said Hyundai-Kia was one of the few car-makers that now produced both petrol and diesel three-cylinder engines – the latter powering Europe’s facelifted i20 in 1.1-litre guise that emits just 84g/km of CO2.

“I think there are not that many countries that offer three-cylinder in gasoline as well as in diesel.

“We also introduced within the last month the 1.1-litre diesel, which we think is a great engine for Europe. And with this concept we are able to achieve the really surprising value of 85g/km NEDC. For a real (non-electrified) car, it is a benchmark.”

At the other end of Hyundai-Kia’s engine scale is the ‘Tau’ V8 that powers the Hyundai Genesis sedan, which last year became available in direct-injection 5.0-litre form and could power a production version of the large Kia GT rear-drive sedan concept.

Dr Hahn said the Tau V8 had a bright future and continued to undergo development, including a forced-induction version that boosts power output well beyond the standard engine’s circa-300kW.

“Yes, we have a V8 engine in the car group yes, this is a series production engine and, yes, we are not stopping the refinement of this engine,” he said.

“You have already seen that we started with this engine with a certain displacement (4.6 litres) and the second variant (5.0 litres) came into the market.

“This engine is meanwhile equipped with GDI and so on, so it is not a dead engine – we still work on this engine. Charging in general of the big engine has been tested on the test bench and, as you can imagine, it is easy to come to a very great power output.

“Of course, the powertrain engineers are not alone in the world. We also need to have a car for that – and demand.”

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