Blown this way
Turbocharging will take Kia’s petrol cars to the next level
TURBO power is coming to the Kia range. And, after Carsguide’s test drive in the United States, we reckon it can’t come soon enough.
The car we drove was the stunning Optima, fitted not with the usual 2.4-litre engine but a more powerful, 2.0-litre turbo.
It pumps out just over 200kW of power and is much more satisfying to drive, with considerably more torque that kicks in much earlier in the rev range— 250Nm at 4250rpm versus 365Nm at a low 1750rpm.
Kia has overcome the engineering obstacles to building a right-hook version, which is starting to roll off the production line. Optima is due for an upgrade shortly, so the timing couldn’t be better.
The maker has been looking at turbocharged engines for some time and, a spokesman says, there are several options — not just the Optima.
One of those is a turbo version of the cool, two-door Cerato Koup.
A new Cerato arrives in Australia from early in the new year, kicking off with the sedan, then the hatchback and finally the coupe.
A spokesman says the 150kW turbocharged engine from the Hyundai Veloster would slot straight into the Koup. Kia is owned by Hyundai and the two share much of their architecture.
But before giving either option the green light, Kia would first have to put together a business case for approval by head office in Korea.
‘‘ A turbocharged Koup may not be a best seller but it would create important interest for our brand,’’ the spokesman says. No one has seen the new Koup as yet, which won’t make its debut until later next year— but the sedan showed its face at the Los Angeles motor show.
The Kia equivalent to the Hyundai Elantra, it is cast in the same mould as the Optima, with sleek sporty lines and the signature face penned by design chief Peter Schreyer.
Longer, lower and wider, the second-generation Cerato will use Kia’s six-speed auto, which delivers an ideal combination of power and economy. Adjustable electric steering, in place of the hydraulic set-up, allows the driver to set the assistance level.
Kia Australia has just about finished tuning the ride and handling to meet local tastes.
Another turbo option is the gorgeous, highly specced Proc’eed GT hatch from Europe.
Asked whether Kia would introduce an entire line of sporty vehicles, much like Hyundai’s recently announced SR range, the spokesman says there are no plans at this stage because the brand does not sell enough cars here to support such a move.
Punchy: The Optima is a stunner, more so
in turbo mode