IT’S HOTTER RATHER THAN LUKEWARM
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.
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.