THE Kia Cerato GT is on Kia Motors Australia’s most wanted list, its chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, says.
Speaking to Wheels at the launch of the 2016 Kia Optima about the company’s long-term goal of selling 50,000 cars a year, Meredith suggested that a Cerato GT would be a more significant addition to the car maker’s line-up here, where the manual-only Proceed GT has failed to fire.
“I would love to continue with Proceed GT if it came in auto, but you’ve got to make those decision based on market reality, and unfortunately, to me, our future lies in Cerato having the opportunity to be a Cerato GT,” he said.
“What we have to do is consolidate our models,” said Meredith.
Kia Motors Australia has expressed interest in a Kia Cerato performance model, which could draw styling cues from the Kia GT concept (pictured above, below and top).
That sticking point of no automatic option is made worse for Kia by the fact that the Slovakian-made Proceed GT is based on the same platform and mechanicals as the Korean-built Hyundai Veloster, which uses the same engine but is built with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Veloster has snared 2435 sales so far in 2015, compared with only 365 Proceed GTs.
The Koup, a hot version of the Cerato, has already on sale in Australia using the same engine as both the Veloster and Proceed GT. It, too, comes in automatic form from its Korean factory, but to date has not worn the GT badge or had the turbo engine fitted to a hatch variant.
Two Kia products currently wear the two-letter badge here, with the Proceed GT joined by the new Optima GT sedan.
Performance models will be crucial to Kia’s aspirations to sell 50,000 cars in Australia by 2020, a target Meredith spoke about publically earlier this year. That doesn’t spell an AMG-like sub-brand, like Hyundai has confirmed with its ‘N’ division, but a broader model range and increasing brand credibility.
“It’s not just the cars – they help dramatically … but as the brand grows stronger, we get better dealers; better dealers sell more cars,” Meredith said. “So there’s a flow-on effect with that: quality communication, better market representation and better product. We’re relatively confident we’ll get to that 50,000 by 2020.”