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More Euro Kias loom

Hot to trot: More euro models likely to follow fresh Pro_cee'd GT

Wagon, soft-roader and possibly more as Kia expands into fresh niches

Kia logo7 Mar 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

KIA could soon have one of the most diverse ranges of small cars in Australia if plans to add more European-sourced models materialise.

The company has flagged that models such as the Cee’d SW wagon could join the just-unveiled Pro_cee’d GT three-door hot-hatch out of Europe next year.

Adding to the company’s watch list are varieties of the Sportage compact soft-roader also sourced from Kia’s Slovakian manufacturing plant, to help ease supply shortages from Korea.

It is also believed that if the European designed and developed Provo Concept from this week’s Geneva motor show is given the green light for production as a premium, Rio light-car-based rival to the Mini Cooper and Citroen DS3, then the local outfit would be very keen to see that car too.

However, with the Cerato five-door hatch firmly entrenched in the Australian small-car class, the likelihood of the European-made Cee’d five-door hatch joining the SW is very slim, as the two Kias of equal size and configuration would confuse buyers and vie for the same customer.

According to Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth, the arrival of the Pro_cee’d GT has the potential to pave the way for future European-sourced Kias, but only if they do not directly compete against the established model line-up.

“It’s all about opening doors,” he said. “As long as (the European-made Kias) are not impinging (on what we’re already offering), then there may be a chance for us to see more cars out of Slovakia.

“And the process went smoother than expected – we received a lot of support from executives high up at Kia.” It appears the Cee’d SW was actually the original model Kia Australia requested, to compete against the popular (and closely related) Hyundai i30 wagon.

However, with Kia keen to boost its brand image with models that offer tangible performance and styling appeal to younger buyers, the Pro_cee’d GT has turned out to be the first car out of the blocks for Australia.

“We’d been looking for a hero car in the Kia range for quite some time, and the GT seems to fit the bill,” Mr Hepworth said.

“With no three-door Cerato available it means there is a niche to fill.” He said the Cee’d SW business plan had not yet been completed, with questions remaining about the viability of the model in a segment where volume is never going to be big.

“You have to ask yourself whether a wagon is actually even relevant in Australia,” Mr Hepworth said.

Another obstacle is the imminent arrival of the second-generation Rondo 7 – a vehicle that Kia believes might actually end up making the Cee’d SW redundant in Australia because its design is far less ‘family bus’ in appearance than the outgoing version ever was.

“We think buyers are going to like the fact that the Rondo looks more like a big hatchback than a people mover,” he said.

As with the hatch that it is based on, the Cee’d SW is the second Kia small car to be built in Europe, and was introduced at the Paris motor show in September last year.

Along with myriad petrol and turbo-diesel engine options, the SW includes a multilink rear suspension set-up in lieu of the simpler (and cheaper) torsion beam arrangement found in the Cerato, underlining Kia’s desire to compete directly against lauded European ‘estates’ such as the Ford Focus, Opel Astra, and Volkswagen Golf Variant.

Rear seats up, there are 528 litres of cargo space available, extending to 1642 litres with the backrest folded, making the Cee’d SW one of the roomiest in its class.

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