A surprising number of tears were shed when Kia Australia axed its surprisingly sorted Proceed GT last year, but an even hotter hatchback is reportedly now in the works.
The Australian-tuned three-door hatchback was at the hotter end of the warm hatchback spectrum, but in a country that prefers the practicality of five doors and more critically auto availability, the manual-only Proceed GT failed to fire on the sales charts.
Kia Australia has learnt its lesson and is working with South Korea to offer a ‘GTI’ version of the Cerato, due late next year or early 2017, complete with five doors and auto availability.
The local division has in recent months dumped both the underwhelming Cerato Koup – which was available as an auto – and the commendable Proceed GT, both due to a lack of sales volume.
A Kia insider has confirmed the company aims to at least match or better the driving dynamics and performance of the outgoing GT by endowing the more practical five-door Cerato with its independent rear suspension (IRS) and other sporty bits. Currently the Cerato utilises a cheaper torsion bar set-up.
While unable to confirm the exact details, Kia Motor Australia (KMAu) media and corporate communications manager Kevin Hepworth hinted that something sporty was brewing.
“Having taken Proceed GT and Koup Turbo out of the product lineup, you’ve got to look at that as possibly clearing the decks for something more exciting. There is method to the madness. We might be taking some things off the product line, but we’re not going to leave a chasm.”
Asked whether IRS is a sure thing for the next Cerato, he replied, “We understand there will be an IRS in Cerato and that being the case there would be a strong argument from us for a GT version of the car.”
“You can still make a car with a torsion bar that is a fine handling vehicle, but if you want to go to that next step in sports then you really need to be able to tune that rear-end properly and that’s what an IRS gives you,” Hepworth added.
KMAu’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith went a step further, however. “What I would like is a GTI Cerato. Our preference really is that five-door sports-type situation, that’s what we’re now looking at.”
The Proceed GT was priced from $29,990 plus on-road costs and used a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine linked to a six-speed manual gearbox. While no firecracker, it creamed warm hatchback rivals in a MOTOR comparison test before it was dumped from sale late last year. In 2015 it managed 378 full-year sales.