Stinger leads Kia’s relentless march forward

Kia’s warmly received new Stinger is hitting the spot with consumers hankering for a big, handsome rear-drive car. 

Ninety per cent of orders are for the V6, while 80 per cent are GT models.

It’s apparently the natural substitute for powerful versions of the departing Commodore and Falcon.

Now Hyundai’s little but fast-growing brother has its sights set on a high performance model of its next Cerato range, something worthy to compete with the welter of hot hatches in the Australian market.

The new Cerato is likely to be seen at the 2018 Detroit auto show in January and local launch scheduling has it hitting our showrooms around mid year, initially in four-door sedan form with the five-door hatch closely following in its tyre tracks.

Though it will be clearly differentiated by a smart new shape and stylish interior, the next Cerato will be based on the same footings as the new Hyundai i30.  

The i30, Australia’s number one selling vehicle last month despite a price jump over the outgoing range, is offered with a choice of three different four-cylinder engines  – a 2.0-litre petrol, 1.6-litre turbo petrol and 1.6-litre turbo diesel, and model-dependent torsion beam or multi-link independent rear suspension systems.

Kia Australia boss Damien Meredith says his operation is negotiating hard with his South Korean masters to grab the more sophisticated independent rear suspension system for at least the higher level Ceratos, with a view to its local ride-and-handling boffins conjuring up  a sporty version of the new hatch.

While it won’t be a sizzler sibling model mirroring Hyundai’s new 184kW/353Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol i30 N, it will probably get the punchy 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine.

Kia Australia is intent on offering the entry level new Cerato at a price in line with the current generation line-up.  In other words $20,000 drive away.

The price leader Cerato model is expected to use the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and torsion beam rear suspension as the Hyundai i30 Active.

“Pricing is obviously crucial in the small-car segment,’ Meredith said.

“The Cerato is important for our growth so we’re putting a lot of effort into getting the value right.

The seven year new-car warranty across the brand introduced in October 2014 has been working well for Kia, Meredith acknowledged.

In the three years since the introduction of the extended warranty, sales have almost doubled, from 28,000 in 2014 to an estimated 54,500 this year.  

The terrific warranty protection is a factor of course but Meredith also points to the appealing product line-up.

Kia’s upward sales trajectory is expected to continue too, with Meredith anticipating improvements of 10 per cent per year through to 2020.

Kia sits ninth in sales this year. With a bullet. It’s edging towards overtaking Nissan and VW.

Once categorised as a cheap and cheerful brand, Kia’s sky high customer satisfaction ratings and richer mix points to a changing image.

More than 10 per cent of all Kia vehicles sold are priced above $60,000.

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