Hyundai Motor Group’s first-ever competitor for the likes for the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger – expected to be known as the Kia Tasman – has been photographed during cold weather testing in Sweden.

    Interestingly, this prototype is being benchmarked against the Ford Ranger Raptor, even though the car pictured here doesn’t look like a particularly sporty or off-road-oriented variant.

    A memo in mid-2023 told dealers Kia was benchmarking the Tasman’s payload and towing capabilities against the HiLux and Ranger.

    Compared to earlier test vehicles, this one looks as though it is wearing production sheet metal, and its disguise is skimpier than before.

    Up front we can see the Tasman has a huge, open grille flanked by a pair of vertically stacked headlight units. A much earlier development vehicle used the front end of the Mohave SUV, but it’s clear now the two cars will not share any exterior panels.

    Seen next to the Ranger, the Tasman’s sides look particularly flat. There might be some detailing to relieve the slabby look, but if there is, it’s hidden under the car’s black disguise garment.

    To lighten some of the visual mass of the fenders, the Tasman has boxy wheel arch flares stamped into the metal. The side window line also sweeps up dramatically towards the C-pillar.

    There are no fancy, aerodynamic flush-fitting door handles for the Tasman, as we can see them sticking out prominently from below the camouflage.

    At the rear there are LED tail-lights and side steps built into the rear bumper. Aside from cutouts for the reversing camera, parking sensors, and licence plate holder we can’t see the underlying cargo area or tailgate.

    Unlike the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which has a monocoque body and rides on the same platform as the Tucson, and is aimed at more casual ute users, the Tasman ute will be targeted towards those who need a work vehicle, want something that can go off-road, or need to tow.

    As such it will utilise a body-on-frame design. This prototype has a live rear axle and what appears to be coil spring suspension, as well as rear disc brakes.

    Given the body-on-frame Mohave SUV made its debut back in 2008, it’s likely the Tasman will ride on a new architecture.

    Spy photos taken in South Korea at the beginning of the year revealed the Tasman will have a hardy interior with plenty of straight lines.

    We don’t know what engines the Tasman will be offered with, but we’d wager significant money the lineup will include a version of the 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four already seen in the Sorento and Carnival.

    The Mohave SUV sold in South Korea and some other markets is available with a 189kW/560Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine.

    It’s possible this engine could make an appearance in the Tasman for higher spec or higher performance trims, while Hyundai Motor Group also developed a 3.0-litre inline-six turbo-diesel for the Genesis GV80 but no longer offers it in the luxury SUV.

    The Tasman is one of two utes Kia is working on, with the other being an electric pickup aimed at the US.

    Australian sales of the Tasman are expected to begin in 2025, and Kia hoping to nab 10 per cent of the light commercial vehicle market with the South Korea-built ute, putting it roughly on par, sales wise, with the Isuzu D-Max.

    Derek Fung

    Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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