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Pro_cee’d GT is Kia’s game changer

Hot stuff: The Kia Pro_cee’d will likely bring an entirely new buyer to the brand, and will have a halo effect on all its cars.

Kia can court a new type of buyer thanks to the Pro_cee’d GT turbo hatch

Kia logo20 Mar 2014

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

KIA Australia is counting on the new Pro_cee’d GT to move the company’s brand image from dependable to desirable.

While the European-designed and built three-door hatch is classified as a niche product due to its projected volume of about 100 units per month, the company says the ‘halo’ effect it will have on cars further down the range will reverberate.

“The GT is a window to our future,” says Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) marketing general manager Steve Watt.

“While incrementally it will only contribute to a limited number of sales, its potential as an attention grabber and a brand builder is much more important.

“The GT is all about emotionally desirable cars that are fun to drive… and this won’t be the only one.”

On sale now from $29,990 plus on-road costs, the manual-only Pro_cee’d GT turbo looks and feels like a circa-$40K Volkswagen Golf GTI, with unique Australian suspension tuning (benchmarked on the previous GTI and Mini Cooper) to help elevate its dynamics above what people normally associate with Kia vehicles.

With 150kW/265Nm on tap, it has a little less poke than the German hot-hatch icon, prompting the company to refer to the GT as a ‘warm’ rather than ‘hot’ hatch. Still, the Pro_cee’d is far and away the most driver-orientated small car the marque has offered in its 18-year history here.

As a result,Kia is preparing its dealer group to accommodate a different type of showroom shopper, according to KMAu sales general manager Alan Crouch.

“There’s now an opportunity for us to go into more emotional cars and introduce a higher degree of excitement into our line-up,” he said.

“So our dealers are being very strongly encouraged to ‘demo’ the car.People who buy that sort of car are wanting to really drive it first.”

Part of Kia’s launch strategy for the Pro_cee’d GT is to make sure the correct channels of communication are in place in order to target the appropriate buyers, with an emphasis of achieving the right ‘word of mouth’.

“I think people who are highly engaged in this category seek out cars,” saidMr Watt.

“They hear stories, read journalists’ reviews… to see if the car makes sense on paper. So I think we’re going to see an organic interest in this car that is going be driving people into our dealerships.

“We’re also working hard in the social space… to make sure we have the right set of sharable elements so people say ‘Hey, I’m keen to see this cool car’ with a great gallery of photos and videos.

“It’s really building that credible worth-of-mouth up with the right people.

And these is where enquires will come for the GT initially.

“We’re carrying a fair amount of interest already since we launched this car to the public at January’s Australian Open with a teaser campaign.”

Finally, with Kia keen to build its brand equity worldwide, Mr Watt said that there was never any debate on whether the Pro_cee’d name would migrate with the car to Australia.

The Pro_cee’d name is based on the Cee’d small car range designed and developed specifically for European consumption. Based on the Hyundai/Kia C-segment platform that also underpins the South Korean-made Cerato, it features a more sophisticated specification including a multi-link rear suspension instead of the cheaper space-saving torsion beam set-up in order to better compete with the likes of the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra.

“We have very strict naming conventions within the company,” he said.

“And that comes from building a global equity in this car, and Australia is a member in that.

“Remember that there has been a lot of years of investing in Cee’d in Europe, and we’re going to add to the equity in that name with our voice, rather than trying to create a new path.”

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