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Borrego boned as Kia searches Soul

V8 SUV: Borrego is known as the Mohave in South Korea.

Kia's first V8 won't be coming to Australia, but a range of smaller Koreans should

26 Nov 2007

By JAMES STANFORD in SEOUL

KIA has told GoAuto that the big Borrego SUV will only be built in left-hand-drive, dashing hopes the new model could make it Down Under.

The Borrego, which is called the Mohave in South Korea, will go on sale in its domestic market late this year, before arriving in the US next year with both six and eight-cylinder engines.

It is aimed squarely at the American market. The V8 engine is a 4.6-litre, while a 3.8-litre V6 will also be made available in the US.

A 3.0-litre diesel will be available for other markets.

A poster on a wall in Kia's Hwasung factory near Seoul announced the Borrego would take on the Audi Q7 and BMW X5, but it is expected to shoot lower and have a much more affordable pricetag than the German prestige models.

Kia Australia said it would consider taking the Borrego if the top brass in South Korea reconsidered their position, but would not actively push for a right-hand-drive version of the car.

"We might take it if it comes available, but it would have to be a diesel," said Kia Australia spokesman Jonathan Fletcher.

It is far more interested in getting hold of the Cee'd small hatch that went on sale in Europe earlier this year.

 center imageThe C'eed (pictured left) is the Kia version of the Hyundai i30, which has got off to a strong start in Australia.

While the Hyundai model is built in South Korea, the C'eed is made exclusively at the company's new Slovakia factory.

GoAuto can reveal the increased freight to ship a vehicle from Slovakia is putting pressure on the business case for the C'eed's Australian introduction.

It is understood the freight bill for each vehicle from Slovakia is around $900 more than transporting a model from South Korea.

Such a premium is hard to absorb on a vehicle that would kick off at around $19,000, but Kia Australia is still pushing.

"We want C'eed as a brand statement," Mr Fletcher said. "We have been talking about it for a while." GoAuto understands Kia Australia would choose the five-door hatch and the sleek three-door coupe, but pass on the wagon version.

Production concerns at the Slovakia plant could also pose a problem, with very little spare capacity.

Some juggling could see the plant manage to build the Australian cars, while increased demand from Europe may also see the factory add an extra shift (for a total of three) which would free up capacity for Australia.

The C'eed replaces the Cerato small car in Europe, but Australia would continue to take the Cerato sedan (and possibly also the hatch) if the C'eed came here.

A new Cerato is expected to go on sale late next year.

While the Borrego SUV could struggle in the US thanks to the rising price of petrol, a new small crossover-style Kia hatch could be big hit.

The Soul is a small three-door designed to look like a crossover vehicle. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine.

Kia Australia is yet to decide whether it will take the new model, which is undergoing development testing ahead of the launch in the US next year.

The car has been designed as a left and right-hand-drive model, but it is not yet clear where the car would fit in the Kia range and whether there would be enough demand in Australia.

There is also doubt over Kia's version of the upcoming rear-drive Hyundai Tiburon replacement, which was shown in concept form at this year's Frankfurt motor show as the Kee.

Kia insists one of its key brand values is that its cars are youthful and fun to drive, yet it has not decided whether it will produce its own version of the sporty Tiburon replacement.

The company's star new designer, Peter Schreyer, told GoAuto that he was hoping the car would be given the green light for production.

"At the moment there is no decision," he said. "I think a product like this would do very well." The Kee concept car was to be a star at this month's LA auto show, but was badly damaged when it broke free of its tethers in a transporter on its way from Las Vegas. It has since been repaired.

Read more:

First look: Kia goes Borrego

First look: Kia’s Euro wagon has a hint of France

Arrival of Kia Cee’d hinges on Europe


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