Kia is set to launch its first ute exclusively with a turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, and says this is due to four-cylinder engines accounting for the lion’s share of ute sales in Australia.

    “When we got into the whole studying the business case… we dissected that category a fair bit and it’s still majority – and I know there’s V6s in Amarok and V6s in Ranger – but it’s still majority four-cylinder, whether it be diesel or petrol,” Kia Australia product planning manager Roland Rivero told CarExpert.

    “We still think that there’s a substantial chunk in the 200,000+ per annum market that we can tap into.

    “We’ve got to play the balancing act too, because NVES [the Australian Government’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standard] is coming, even if it’s six months away, and we’ve got to make sure that this hits the mark from all the needs of a workhorse – towing capacity, payload-wise, those non-negotiables.

    “We think we ticked a lot of the boxes, the majority of the boxes, of what’s expected of a ute – despite in the interim, or at least in its first stages, it’s not a six-cylinder.”

    It’s unclear whether a six-cylinder engine could follow later.

    The Tasman, as it’s expected to be called, is set to launch in Australia in mid-2025, and Kia has previously said it’s targeting 10 per cent of the light commercial vehicle market.

    The Korean Car Blog reported in March the Tasman will launch with the 2.2-litre CRDi turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, which also sees duty in models like the Sorento.

    It will reportedly produce 148kW of power.

    In the Sorento, this engine produces 148kW of power and 440Nm of torque – the latter of which is down on the likes of the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine in the Toyota HiLux or the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel in the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, which produce 500Nm.

    While no six-cylinder option has been confirmed, Kia theoretically has a couple of diesel sixes to choose from.

    Kia offers a Euro 6-compliant 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 in the body-on-frame Mohave SUV in Korea, though this is an older mill.

    Elsewhere in the Hyundai Motor Group lineup, Genesis has a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six which was just discontinued from its only application, the GV80 SUV.

    Spied prototypes show the Tasman will have a live rear axle and what appears to be coil spring suspension, as well as rear disc brakes and a four-wheel drive system with selectable low-range gearing and an automatic 4WD mode suitable for on-pavement driving.

    Kia has said it has benchmarked the Tasman against the likes of the Ranger, and it’s set to match the top-selling ute with a braked towing capacity of 3500kg.

    It’ll also match its Blue Oval rival with a rear bumper featuring integrated side steps, though it won’t offer a plug-in hybrid as the Ranger will do from early in 2025.

    MORE: Everything Kia

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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