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Hyped Kia hot hatch emerges

Spicy Korean: This sketch gives clues to the design of the upcoming Kia Pro_Ce'ed GT hot hatch that will be launched early next year.

Potent Kia Pro_Ce’ed GT turbo appears as a sketch before early 2013 debut

28 Nov 2012


KIA will launch its first genuine performance car in 2013, announcing it is gearing up to reveal a turbo version of the new Pro_Ce’ed three-door hatch early next year.

To be called the Pro_Ce’ed GT, Kia’s entry into the bustling global hot hatch market will feature a version of the potent 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged engine developed by parent company Hyundai for its Veloster SR, matched exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox.

The announcement follows a comment from Kia’s high-profile design director Peter Schreyer, during the premiere of the standard Pro_Ce’ed at September’s Paris motor show, that the car deserved a “decent engine” to match its slick looks.

The fast-growing South Korean car-maker commenced the information roll-out today when it released a solitary teaser sketch of the forthcoming fire-breathing Pro_Cee’d variant, ahead of an official in-the-metal debut early next year, probably at the Geneva motor show in March.

While Kia has not released outputs or performance figures, the powertrain is expected to match the power and torque figures of the related Veloster Turbo, and therefore to mimic the Hyundai’s zero to 100km/h sprint time of about 7.0 seconds.

17 center imageLeft: The standard Kia Pro_Ceed hatch.

Precious few other details are known at this early stage, but the car – which will be produced at the same Slovakian plant as the related Ce’ed hatch and wagon, as well as the more humble non-turbo Pro_Ce’ed variants – will hit showrooms across Europe around September.

It is believed that Kia will also look to introduce the engine in the Ce’ed five-door hatch, giving the company a real rival for the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST.

Potential for Australian release of the Pro_Ce’ed GT is another matter, with any potential local launch still a long way off even though Australians buy a disproportionally high number of hot hatches compared with other markets.

Kia Australia national public relations manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto that – as with the standard Pro_Ce’ed – the company’s local arm still faced numerous hurdles to bringing the car here, even though it was at the top of its “wish list”.

Factors listed include severe supply constraints out of its Slovakian plant, as well as the high cost of sourcing the car from Europe.

“There’s a whole grab-bag of things that need to be looked at but it is certainly an exciting car that would find a welcome home here,” he said.

Mr Hepworth confirmed right-hand-drive availability, with the GT a lock to be sold in the UK.

Counting in the GT’s favour for a possible Australian release – as well as the standard Pro_Ce’ed – is the possible impact of Europe’s biting recession on early sales projections, potentially freeing up factory supply.

Even though Kia sales were up 23 per cent in Europe to the end of September – making it the fastest-growing mainstream auto maker – it is understood the company has contemplated looking at alternate markets as a fall-back.

Australia, with its strong exchange rate and lust for performance cars, would be a natural fit for a car like the GT. Furthermore, GoAuto understands it would be cheaper for Kia to find new export markets – even to go so far as subsidising shipping costs – than trim production levels.

Acting as precedent for this decision would be Hyundai Australia’s recent announcement that it would reverse its previous decision not to import the second-generation i30 wagon.

According to that company, key factors for the about-face were the strong Australian dollar and improved supply from the plant in the Czech Republic.

As we have reported, Kia Australia has looked at a similar approach to the Slovakian-built Ce’ed wagon, with Mr Hepworth confirming today that the load-lugger remained on the radar.

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