IT’S HOT­TER RATHER THAN LUKE­WARM

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

A HY­BRID Op­tima is a still­born ex­er­cise in Australia … but ex­pect to see a sports-ori­ented ver­sion on the road sooner rather than later.

The ab­sence of gov­ern­ment sup­port and tepid public re­cep­tion to other hy­brids in Australia has led Kia to shelve plans to join the elec­tri­fied ranks, at least for now.

“The busi­ness case just doesn’t stack up in terms of price or po­ten­tial sales,” Kia spokesman Kevin Hep­worth says.

Hep­worth can’t — or won’t — com­ment on the pos­si­bil­ity of a hipo Op­tima but con­firms the 2.0-litre turbo is ca­pa­ble of sub­stan­tially higher out­puts.

The po­ten­tial to tweak the en­gine and ap­ply stiffer sus­pen­sion set­tings is in­stantly ob­vi­ous and would give Kia a unique sell­ing point in the com­pet­i­tive mid-sized class now dom­i­nated by the Mazda6.

DRIV­E­TRAIN DE­NIED

A seven-speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion will be sold in the US in tan­dem with an en­try-level 1.6-litre turbo. Kia‘s Hep­worth says nei­ther will ap­pear Down Un­der.

“The 1.6 turbo is re­served for our smaller ve­hi­cles like the Pro­ceed and doesn’t of­fer any­thing the 2.4 doesn’t al­ready de­liver,” he says.

“We won’t see (the trans­mis­sion) in the Op­tima and at this stage we be­lieve it won’t ap­pear in a lo­cal car un­til early next year.”

That makes the Cer­ato the likely can­di­date for the South Korean brand’s first dual-clutch auto.

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