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Premium push for Kia, but “slow build” for Australia

Halo: Kia Australia says the local market probably isn't ready for its genuine luxury offering, the Quoris (GT pictured below).

Kia keeps pushing upmarket, but no Quoris luxury large car for Australia just yet

21 Oct 2013

KIA globally remains enthusiastic about pushing beyond existing boundaries and expanding its vehicle fleet into new, upmarket territories – but changing perceptions in Australia could be a slow process, says the company.

Thanks to models like the just-launched sporty Koup and imminent European Pro_cee’d GT, the Korean brand continues to gather momentum in Australia.

However, the company says it may not yet have the requisite image to head too far upmarket here.

Globally, global design chief Peter Schreyer has been effusive about his desire to get a soft-top cabriolet and a flagship luxury car based on the 2011 rear-drive, four-door, 291kW GT concept into production as model halos.

Kia Australia general manager of public relations Kevin Hepworth is equally keen to continue the model expansion locally, and says he is not alone in wanting to see the brand break in to new territory.

“I know from talking with Peter Schreyer in Frankfurt (GT) is a car he desperately wants to have made. He is also moving forward with his roadster plans and they are the two cars he wants to push through.

“He wants a genuine soft-top roadster and a big car,” he said.

But while those cars could be on the local radar a few years down the track, one existing model that might be a bridge too far for now is the Quoris luxury flagship sedan.

The BMW 5 Series sized four-door is already on sale in South Korea and the Middle East, but Kia says it won’t come to Australia until the time is right.

Speaking with us last week, Mr Hepworth isn’t convinced the brand is strong enough to support a large car at this stage.

“That car is rear-wheel drive, it has a bi-turbo V6 with a V8 available for it.

It’s a genuine BMW 5 series/Audi competitor.

“It’s a big car, it’s got all the bells and whistles but how do you price it? “We are not ready to have a car in that category in Australia and the brand will not support it.

“You either bring it in at what it should be priced at: 75-80 grand and nobody buys it because it’s still a Kia, or you sell it for $45-50 and you devalue your badge.

“It’s a slow building process. We have come from in 5 years $13,990 no more to pay, to people wanting and waiting for $30,000-$50,000 Kias,” said Mr Hepworth.

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