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Kia’s 2013 Cerato testing in Oz

Key model: Kia’s new-generation Cerato sedan will kick off a big 2013 for the company in Australia.

Next-gen Kia Cerato testing on Australian roads as local engineers tune chassis

Kia logo27 Sep 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

KIA Motors Australia’s chassis tuning team is already at work on the new-generation Cerato small car that will head a big year of new-model launches for the South Korean company in Australia in 2013.

The Cerato – a clean-sheet redevelopment of Kia’s top-selling small car – is set to hit the local market in its sedan form in the first quarter of 2013.

The five-door hatch and two-door Cerato Koup will follow later in the year, along with the related third-generation Rondo small people-mover that made its debut at the Paris motor show today.

The model roll out will continue in the second half of the year with a facelifted Optima mid-sized sedan and – potentially – “a couple of surprises” currently under consideration for local launch.

Those surprises are unlikely to include the Optima hybrid revealed at the Paris motor show today nor the all-electric Ray EV, which are “not on the table for Australia” according to the local representatives.

Kia Australia already has a pre-production Cerato running around on local roads as the engineering team headed by consultant Graham Gambold fine-tunes the suspension and steering for local conditions and tastes.

17 center imageFrom top: Kia Cerato, Ray and Rondo.

Next up for the team will be the Rondo, which is set for the localisation treatment over the next few months, in time for its showroom launch about April next year.

The Optima is set to get electric-assisted power steering as part of a facelift in the second half of 2013, with the Australian team working with Korean engineers to optimise both the steering and suspension this time around.

The key new model for Kia Australia in 2013 is Cerato, which is called K3 in South Korea, where it has just been launched, and Forte in North America.

The new third-generation sedan is 30mm longer (4560mm) than the current model and 5mm wider (1780mm), but sits 25mm lower.

The wheelbase has been stretched 51mm to improve legroom, bringing it up to 2700mm – 50mm shorter than the wheelbase of the Rondo small people-mover but 50mm longer than Hyundai’s i30 hatchback.

In South Korea, the Cerato sedan has been launched with a 1.6-litre 103kW/167Nm four-cylinder petrol engine, but it unclear if that engine will make it to Australia.

More likely is the 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ direct-injected petrol engine that has been confirmed for the Rondo, in which it delivers 130kW of power and 211Nm of torque – up 15kW and 17Nm respectively over the current 2.0-litre engine in Cerato in Australia.

Like the Rondo and Hyundai’s i30, Cerato will get electric-assisted power steering this time around, probably with the same three FlexSteer driving modes as Rondo – normal, sport and comfort.

The Cerato sedan, hatch and Koup will all be launched separately in Australia through 2013, with the Koup to be the last in the second half.

So far, only the sedan has been revealed, with the hatch likely to appear at the Detroit motor show in January, and Koup expected at the New York motor show in April.

The Cerato has been Kia’s top-selling model in Australia in 2012, notching up more than 6000 sales across the three body styles.

Sedan and hatch sales are up a laudable 45 per cent, even though the model is reaching the end of its cycle.

The small car has been a key factor in Kia’s 23 per cent sales volume rise in the first eight months of 2013, with the South Korean importer establishing itself as one of the fastest growing mainstream brands.

The missing piece in Kia’s Australian model jigsaw is a new Grand Carnival, which is overdue for replacement.

Kia insiders suggest the next Grand Carnival now is not expected to front until 2014, by when the current generation – still the best-selling people-mover in the land – will be eight years old.

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