With sister brand Hyundai's Santa Cruz currently in the final stages of testing ahead of its eagerly awaited debut next year, Kia has confirmed that its interpretation is still on course to premiere in 2022 or 2023, but that executives have been barred from speaking about it.
This is according to the marque's Product Planning Head for Australia, Roland Rivero, who told motoring.com.au that he has received "strict orders" from the South Korean brand's Chief Operations Officer Down Under Damien Meredith "not to comment on the ute".
He however stated that the pick-up is still high on the radar and that Australia is "negotiating with KMC [Kia Motors Corporation], but until such time as we're allowed to comment on a global project like a ute, we won't. And at this stage we're not".
In an interview with caradvice.com.au last year, Meredith remarked that the pick-up is "still a way off, but we're confident in the near future the group will have a light commercial range in Australia", before adding that drivetrains ranging from rear-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive are being looked into, as well as single and double cab bodystyles.
Unlike the unibody Santa Cruz, a body-on-frame design will be utilised by Kia as the still unnamed newcomer will be offered globally. Motivation is therefore set to be provided by a selection of petrol and diesel engines, the latter likely to include the 2.2 Smartstream from the Sorento and possibly even the 3.0-litre straight-six from Hyundai's upscale Genesis division that powers the G80 and GV80.
While it was reported back in June that Hyundai's world pick-up had become an "uncomfortable and sensitive topic" within the halls of the head office in Seoul, Kia, based on Rivero's comments, are pressing ahead with speculation being that it could debut ahead or after its sibling's offer due out around the same time.
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