Asked directly about the potential of a Kia TK/Tasman-based SUV, Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero said the company isn’t looking at one “at this point in time”.
That doesn’t mean the brand doesn’t want on however; Kia Australia chief executive officer Damien Meredith also chimed in by saying “[of] course” the company would like one.
The hotly anticipated Kia ute, called TK internally and potentially set to wear the Tasman name, will go on sale locally within the next 24 to 36 months.
It’ll be based on an all-new body-on-frame chassis and be produced in South Korea.
There’s an Australian connection with the new ute, as Kia’s engineers having been using our ute-loving market as a test bed.
Mr Rivero said “lots of visitors have made the trip” to Australia to experience the competitors and local conditions.
A “substantial” amount of work on the ute has been done in Australia, though “a lot of work” is still to come according to Mr Rivero.
Despite executives ruling out the potential of an SUV based on the TK/Tasman’s new body-on-frame platform for now, Mr Rivero was coy on the idea of a performance version that could go up against the Ford Ranger Raptor.
“You dissect [the ute] category there’s new sections of it that I think every OEM would desire to have a crack at. We’re no different,” said Mr Rivero.
Prototypes of the Kia TK/Tasman ute have been spied testing in Korea disguised in sheetmetal from the venerable body-on-frame Mohave SUV.
Whether that suggest the TK/Tasman will offer the same engine as the Mohave is unclear.
In Korea, the Mohave is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine producing 189kW of power and 560Nm of torque. For reference, the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine in the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen 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 transmission 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.
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