Kia’s secret ute caught in public

Photos of the upcoming machine emerged online this week, published on social media following a rare public outing of the prototype machine.

The dual-cab ute is set to take on the likes of Toyota’s HiLux and the Ford Ranger in the white-hot high-riding pick-up class.

Hyundai and Kia often share core mechanical elements in models such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, or Sorento and Santa Fe, but this does not appear to be the case here.

Kia’s ute appears to be bigger than Hyundai’s compact Santa Cruz pick-up, a compact machine based on the latest Hyundai Tucson crossover.

In the same way that the Kia Stinger does not have a Hyundai twin, Kia’s ute looks set to deliver a unique proposition.

Industry insiders say Kia has sent engineers to Australia on a mission to make sure its ute is competitive with class leaders such as the Ranger.

The manufacturer’s Australian arm has made no secret of its desire to offer an alternative to popular diesel utes.

Former Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth told News Corp Australia in 2018 that the brand was pushing for “a full range of light commercial vehicles,” including a ute with the payload and towing capacity necessary to be considered “as a useful working vehicle”.

“We are quietly confident we will get some, but it’s not a signed off program,” he said at the time.

Automotive website Carscoops showed photos of the prototype Kia ute after spy pictures of the machine were published on social media channels including Instagram and Bobadream.

The photos show a medium-sized ute wearing front-end styling pinched from the Kia Mohave four-wheel-drive.

The Mohave, a model not sold in Australia, is a rugged wagon with a body-on-frame layout similar to the Toyota Prado or Fortuner, cars with close ties to the HiLux.

Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine, the Mohave makes about 190kW and 570Nm, enough to place it toward the top of the pecking order for modern dual-cab utes.

Originally published as Kia’s secret ute caught in public

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