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Kia CK rear-drive sedan coming, sans V8

Sleek lines: The production version of the four-door Kia CK will take styling cues from the 2011 GT concept and will feature a coupe-like shape in a similar vein to the VW CC.

Australian-built sedan exit in 2017 could prove the key for Kia's 'CK'

8 Jun 2016

KIA’s large rear-wheel-drive sedan, internally dubbed CK, is confirmed to start from around $45,000 and would take advantage of the closure of local manufacturing when it arrives in Australia mid-to-late next year, the company’s local boss has revealed.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) chief operating officer Damien Meredith last month told GoAuto the production CK would closely resemble the four-door coupe-like GT Concept shown at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

However, he revealed further details about the large car at a media lunch in Sydney this week and said it would be positioned just above the Optima mid-size sedan.

“We’ll be sensible about our price points for that car (CK), ideally we would love it to be in that segment that is under the luxury car tax (LCT) and somewhere just above Optima,” Mr Meredith said.

“If you work in that band that is where we want to play. Once it (CK) is officially announced we’ll be first in line.” The Optima GT tops out at $43,990 plus on-road costs while the 33 per cent LCT threshold is set at $64,132 for the 2016-17 financial year. That $20,000 span currently includes competitor large sedans such as the $47,990 Holden Calais V and $60,000 Hyundai Genesis.

“I can guarantee that we’ll price it (CK) right and we won’t be outlandish with our view on that,” he added.

However Mr Meredith indicated the production CK would not simply be another sedan in the same vein as the mid-size Optima or upper-large K9/Cadenza, the latter of which is reserved for overseas markets.

“CK is replacing nothing, it’s new, it’s sort of a different product outside (the current Kia sedan range), if you look at the Optima and look at the K9/Cadenza it’s really out of there,” he said, which would hint at the coupe-like profile of the GT concept, or a similarly themed vehicle to the Volkswagen CC, instead of a traditional three-box shape.

Mr Meredith was not shy about the production CK’s potential to take advantage of the closure of local manufacturing dominated by large sedans such as the Ford Falcon, which will not be replaced, and the Holden Commodore, which will be replaced in imported form but without a rear-wheel-drive configuration.

“The timing is spot on (for CK),” he said, adding that the production CK was “12 to fifteen months away” and would arrive in Australia in the third quarter of 2017, the same period Holden and Toyota will shutter local operations and around a year after Ford’s local factory closure.

“I think it’s a great opportunity with regards to the timing of that vehicle entering the marketplace and with the unfortunate closure – in my point of view – of Australian manufacturing.

“I think fleets are looking at that (local manufacturing closure), we’ve been very consistent with our pricing and our sales strategy … so I think we’re in reasonable shape to take advantage of that.”

However Mr Meredith stopped short of confirming that Kia will offer a V8 version of the CK.

“The challenge might be getting a V8 in, that may not be the configuration that we’re looking at,” he revealed, adding that all brands would instead look to engine downsizing as a method of meeting future global emissions standards while maintaining performance.

“Every manufacturer in the world will be doing that (looking at downsized turbocharged engines), I think any new model we release, that (emissions) is one of the major variables we have to look at these days and we’re pretty well covered by that sort of stuff. I’m very confident about that.”

Asked whether he thought it would be a risk to launch a new vehicle in a segment in rapid decline, Mr Meredith commented: “The passenger segment will continue to decline, there’s no doubt about that, but what we want to continue to do as a company in Australia is get our market share stronger in that declining segment.”

According to industry body VFACTS the sub-$70,000 large segment, in which the Holden Commodore currently dominates with a 74.8 per cent share, represents just 2.9 per cent of the passenger-car market.

Mr Meredith instead described the CK as a “mammoth, huge” brand booster for KMAu.

He argued that because the $55,990 Platinum version of the Sorento large-SUV range regularly makes up 60 per cent of sales, Australian buyers would be willing to pay similar money for a large sedan from the South Korean brand.

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