The rear-drive GT concept car that Kia unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show is to go into production – and it’s likely to land in New Zealand either late next year or early in 2018.
The production version of the four-door coupe is codenamed the ‘CK’. It is modeled along the lines of the original Mercedes-Benz CLS but closer in size to the Volkswagen Passat CC.
Kia’s Australian operation has confirmed the CK will be in its line-up when it becomes available, but Kia Motors NZ general manager Todd McDonald says the car is “too far in the future for us to to go into much detail about it.”
The CK will be the global hero car for the South Korean carmaker. It has achieved remarkable worldwide growth in the past five years, much of it due to the fresh face former VW Group stylist Peter Scheyer has brought to the brand.
Kia’s first shipment of vehicles beyond South Korea was 10 light trucks to the Middle East, in 1975. Thirty-six years later, in 2011, it cracked 10 million exports. That’s an average of 277,000 vehicles a year.
In the past four-and-a-half years it has sent more than five million vehicles to world markets, at an average of around 1.2 million vehicles a year. Export business for Kia has therefore grown by more than 300 per cent since 2011.
Kia’s Australian chief operating officer Damien Meredith told website GoAuto that the brand is much better placed to introduce a model like the CK, with its rumoured 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6.
“When you look at what’s occurred with SUVs, there’s not a problem for people to spend $50,000 plus for a Kia SUV, but with the passenger vehicles you’ve got to earn your credentials,” said Meredith.
“We’ve got great looking cars, we have road presence and if you do it in an orderly manner, the feed up to – let’s call it CK – is going to be a little bit easier than if you just plonk it into the marketplace.”
“We’ve got to earn our stripes by growing volume and market share, making sure the dealers are growing with us and that will make the pathway of CK a little bit easier, I believe.
“It’s been a long time coming, since the concept, but in saying that the brand wouldn’t have been ready for that type of vehicle in any market five years ago,” he said.