Kia will introduce a rear-wheel drive sports sedan to the Australian market from late next year – just in time for the demise of the locally produced Holden Commodore.
The new model codenamed ‘CK’ has for the first time been spied in production form inside a Kia factory, and as expected it reveals a close resemblance to the GT Concept first shown five years ago at 2011’s Frankfurt motor show.
A short front overhang, broad dash-to-axle ratio highlighted by a chrome side gill, a long wheelbase and swooping roofline are all the hallmarks of the rear-drive model all but confirmed to sell locally from around $40,000 before on-road costs.
While a V8 engine is unlikely, a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine is all but confirmed to start in the production CK. We know a performance version is on the cards, because Kia has released a 30-second YouTube video showing its sports sedan being driven hard at the Nurburgring.
The video finishes by saying a vehicle with “heart pounding performance” and “sleek sophistication” will be revealed on January 8, 2017 – the opening day of the Detroit auto show – with a grainy outline of the production car also shown.
Speaking with Australian media earlier this year, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith gave several insights of the Commodore-kicking role the new rear-driver will play when it lands locally late next year.
“CK is replacing nothing, it’s new, it’s sort of a different product outside (the current Kia sedan range),” he said in June.
“I can guarantee that we’ll price it (CK) right and we won’t be outlandish with our view on that. We’ll be sensible about our price points for that car (CK), ideally we would love it to be in that segment that is under the luxury car tax (LCT) and somewhere just above Kia Optima.
“I think it (CK) is a great opportunity with regards to the timing of that vehicle entering the marketplace and with the unfortunate closure – in my point of view – of Australian manufacturing.”
Meredith said in June the vehicle will land “in 12 to 15 months’ time” – indicating a late 2017 launch. Meanwhile the front-drive Optima GT currently tops out at $43,990 – further indicating a price for the CK somewhere below $50,000.
Kia’s news of a performance rear-drive sedan comes in the same week as Ford denied Australia its own twin-turbo V6 sedan, the all-wheel drive Fusion, citing a forecast lack of popularity in the segment.
Kia has also confirmed it has held discussions with Supercars management over a possible entry to the traditionally Commodore/Falcon-based local racing series – and the specification of the rear-drive twin-turbo V6 CK would suit its control specification to a tee.