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Frankfurt show: Kia HQ says ‘no’ to GT auto

Shifting sands: The Kia Pro_cee’d GT is hamstrung in the local market by the lack of an automatic transmission.

Future of Kia Pro_cee’d GT uncertain as auto option ruled out

Kia logo16 Sep 2015

By TIM ROBSON in FRANKFURT

THE future of Kia’s sportiest hatch is under a cloud, as Kia management categorically shut the door on the potential for an automatic transmission for the Pro_cee’d GT.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the Frankfurt show, Kia’s head of powertrains, Michael Winkler, said that while adding a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine was technically possible, there was more to it from a sales point of view.

“We understand that Europe is actually more or less a manual transmission market, and we understand that Australia is not really a manual transmission market, so we quite understand that you’d like us to combine the 1.6 TGDI with the seven-speed DCT,” he said.

“In principle the combination is possible, as we see it in the Sportage, and there we are able to offer exactly that combination but it is not just about combining an engine with a transmission both have to suit with the vehicle… and so we have to wait and see whether this wish from you guys could be made or not.

“It is not the time to say yes."Mr Winkler refuted that the car’s future is under a cloud after poor sales, and that a spec change would change the outcome regardless.

“If we introduce the technology we’ll have to think about the market share globally,” he pointed out. “So this needs to be addressed… and it is something that cannot be discussed from a technical point of view, but from a marketing point of view.”

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto that the lack of the spec level anywhere in the world meant Australia had to do without – but it also meant that the car was now on notice Down Under.

“In a market as demanding of an automatic option as Australia, that obviously has a huge impact on the car’s market potential and is likely to impact on ongoing product determination,” he said.

“While no decision has been made on the future of Pro_cee’d for Australia, it is certainly a substantial part of the planning discussion.”

On sale for almost two years, the GT has sold in reasonable quantities, but the lack of an automatic or dual-clutch transmission option has curtailed sales. It has posted 295 sales to the end of August – an increase of 13.5 per cent year on year – outselling the equally transmission-hamstring Renault Sport Megane.

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