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Turbos set to spread across Kia range in Oz

Get on the blower: Kia sells a speedy turbo-petrol version of the Sportage compact SUV in North America.

Sportage Turbo could out-punch Subaru Forester XT if Kia Australia gives the nod

27 Mar 2013


KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) is considering more feisty turbo-petrol drivetrains for its local line-up, beyond the European Pro_cee’d GT hot hatch confirmed to arrive early next year.

Key models with forced induction on the agenda include a hot version of the Sportage compact SUV that would take the fight up to the Subaru Forester XT and a long-awaited turbo version of the Optima mid-size sedan.

A turbo for the soon-to-be-revealed Cerato Koup – arriving Down Under in the fourth quarter of this year – is also being looked at.

Details of engines that will power the new Cerato sedan and hatch line-up – starting with the sedan next month – and the all-new Rondo people-mover that will arrive in late May have also emerged.

KMAu public relations general manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto on the eve of the New York motor show that a 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injection petrol engine deployed under the bonnets of the Optima and Sportage is being considered for Australia.

“There is discussion periodically on and off about turbos for Optima because they are running that 2.0-litre turbo here (in the USA) and also the Sportage because they run a nice little turbo here and that is a really nice little drive,” he said.

The engine produces 204kW of power and 369Nm of torque, significantly out-punching the new 177kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo boxer mill of the latest Subaru Forester XT – which at the moment has the turbo four-cylinder compact SUV market all to itself.

A facelifted Optima, due to hit Australian showrooms in the first quarter of next year, would be a logical recipient of the engine in this market, while an updated Sportage could be at least six months behind that.

 center imageFrom top: Kia Optima Turbo, Kia Cerato Koup and Kia Pro_Cee'd GT

Meanwhile the 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol fitted to the Pro_cee’d GT and available on the new Cerato hatch and Koup in some markets is also under consideration – with the Koup being the most likely target.

“It’s under discussion,” said Mr Hepworth. “Priority turbo for Australia is Pro_cee’d GT but other turbos have been discussed – I know the Koup is being actively discussed by the product guys.

“I would think that initially the Koup would be more likely than the hatch (to receive the turbocharged engine).”

However Mr Hepworth hinted that it might not be desirable for the Koup and Pro_cee’d GT to compete – the latter is to be offered with only the turbo engine – and that the Koup potentially serves a different demographic to the European-sourced car.

The Cerato sedan range will gain a 110kW/178Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine shared with the Hyundai i30, while up-spec variants will come with a potent (for its size) 132kW/209Nm 2.0-litre unit.

Both have received regulatory approval for Australian sale with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

Mr Hepworth said it “would be a logical assumption” that the five-door hatch version due to launch in July would share the sedan’s drivetrain choices.

He said the Cerato would continue to be offered with in two specification levels – Si and SLi – with the potential for an additional entry-level S variant aimed at fleet buyers.

Finally, the new Rondo people-mover mover will be offered with a diesel engine for the first time, which Mr Hepworth envisaged as potentially popular among customers who needed a tow car.

GoAuto understands the base Rondo engine will be the same 132kW/209Nm engine as the new Cerato, while the diesel will be a 1.7-litre unit similar to that used in the Hyundai i40, producing 100kW and 330Nm.

Turbo-petrol engines will filter further down the Kia range in time, with downsized three- and four-cylinder engines under development in conjunction with parent company Hyundai for the Rio light car.

What’s coming from Kia:

Cerato sedan - early April
Rondo - late May
Cerato hatch - July
Cerato Koup - Q4 2013
Optima facelift - Q1 2014
Soul - H1 2014

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