Kia’a next-generation of small cars may converge into a single model as the company seeks to improve efficiencies through rationalisation.
According to the president of design, Peter Schreyer, the existing Cerato and Cee’d C-segment small cars might share common sheetmetal when their replacements surface in about 2017.
“The C-segment is a very wide segment and for us it depends a bit on the locations where the cars are made,” Mr. Schreyer told the Australian media at the New York International Auto Show last week.
“So with the Cee’d produced in Europe we can design it fully to European needs and the Forte is produced in Korea and it goes to America so we can basically design two different cars.
“But I do think there is a chance of maybe in the future, but I don’t know – maybe we have to think about this – for more unification. I don’t really see a need that they should look so different.”
Since about 2007/8 both the previous Cerato/Forte iteration and the original Cee’d have featured unique exterior and interior designs to suit their respective Asian/North American and European target markets.
Nowadays the Cee’d is available in the five-door wagon and three-door Pro_cee’d coupe-like hatch formats favoured by Europeans but shunned in most other parts of the world.
Conversely, while the South Korean-made Cerato matches its Slovakian-built cousin in being offered as a five-door hatch, that’s where the similarities end, since it also comes as a four-door sedan and two-door coupe known as the Koup.
However this adds complexity and cost to their development, when most rival C-segment models such as the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3 adopt a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy.
Whether the regional differences that exist at the moment also become more uniform is not yet known.
The Cee’d features a multi-link rear suspension system that is both more expensive and less space efficient than the simpler torsion beam arrangement underpinning the Cerato.
Furthermore the European cars feature at-times more sophisticated engine and drivetrain technologies in order to help them meet specific European fuel consumption and emissions targets – including an upcoming seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in lieu of the conventional torque-converter automatics that the Americans in particular are much more partial to.
Australia, by the way, is the only market in the world to offer both Kia small cars, with the mainstay Cerato sold alongside the more niche Pro_cee’d GT warm hatch.
It is believed that the local operations is also assessing the importation of the Cee’d wagon for Australia, since it has no direct Cerato equivalent.