The upcoming Kia TK/Tasman ute has been spied once again with what appears to be another Mohave mule body.
These latest images were posted on Instagram by Shorts Car, showing the ute prototype with a fair smattering of thick black camouflage.
This spied Kia TK/Tasman ute appears to have the same front-end as the Mohave body-on-frame SUV with boxy headlights and a large rectangular grille. A previous spied prototype looked very similar.
The Kia ute – known internally as TK – is one of two upcoming pickup trucks coming from the brand, likely the vehicle referred to as the “strategic model emerging markets” by company executives last year. The other will be a dedicated electric ute.
TK is just the internal codename at this stage, and the new ute could receive the name Tasman according to a recent trademark filing lodged with IP Australia.
According to Kia dealers who were briefed on the vehicle, the company is benchmarking the TK/Tasman against the segment-leading Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux “to achieve towing capacity and payload targets”.
“If you dissect the market and look at where the key areas are, who are the main benchmarks, and that has evolved, obviously, the last couple of years,” said Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero to CarExpert earlier in the month.
“When we started the conversation there wasn’t an all-new Ranger. That’s come about, so has Amarok.
Mr Rivero also confirmed the ute will be produced in Korea.
“We’re confident that within the next 24 to 36 months it’ll be in Australia,” said Mr Rivero.
He added that “lots of visitors have made the trip” to Australia to experience competitors and local conditions.
“It’s been a bit of a moving target in regards to specification, design and pricing, but all those things are always churning away in the background,” said Kia Australia CEO Damien Meredith.
“We said at the beginning [of ute development] all those years ago, in 2018 or whatever, that we think we could sell where we were taking the brand and where we’ve developed the dealer network, we believe we can still probably be a 10 per cent of the LCV market.”
For context, the Isuzu D-Max, in both 4×2 and 4×4 guise, accounted for roughly 10 per cent of this segment last year.
Based on recently leaked information, CarExpert can confirm the production version of the Kia ute will be powered by a diesel engine, though details around capacity and cylinder count are still unknown.
The fact a Kia Mohave SUV was used as a base for the spied prototype could offer some clues, however.
In Korea, the Mohave is powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine producing 189kW of power and 560Nm of torque. For reference, the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 in the Ranger and Amarok produces 184kW and 600Nm.
The Mohave offers four-wheel drive with electronic low-range and a range of terrain modes much like Kia’s other SUVs. An eight-speed automatic is standard.
Kia has homologated its latest 3.0-litre diesel to Euro 6 standards, aligning it with emissions regulations likely coming to Australia soon, and currently in force in other markets around the world. Few utes are currently EU6 certified in Australia.
We could see Kia offer multiple engines to hit different price points and regional demands, with the brand’s familiar 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel another potential starter.
A commercial version of this engine currently does service in the Hyundai Staria van, making 130kW/430Nm and teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the Staria it gets standard all-wheel drive, but it’s unclear whether Kia will stick with this drivetrain or develop a more rugged 4WD system akin to the Mohave’s.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for the latest!