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Beating the best: Kia promised big things from the Tasman ute - these pictures prove it is about to deliver

Kia's ute is being put to the ultimate test. (Image: CarScoops.com)

It's going to be Australia's best-selling ute versus Kia's all-new upstart, with new pictures of the Tasman testing against the Ford Ranger Raptor proving the Korean brand's big promises are coming true.

Kia in Australia has long said its ute would be benchmarked against the best dual-cabs in the business as it seeks to leapfrog several utes on the sales charts with its all-new Tasman.

"We're definitely aiming for (the benchmark)," Kia Australia's GM of Product Planning, Roland Rivero, has previously told CarsGuide.

"We're not mucking around when it comes to the ute. We want to make sure that the first attempt at a ute from our brand is one that's going to do well in our market."

To be the benchmark, you need to beat the benchmark, and new spy pics, published by CarScoops, show Kia is trying to do exactly that, with the Tasman spotted in its camouflage going head-to-head with the Ford Ranger Raptor.

The spy images were captured in a snow-covered Europe testing ground, with the blacked-out Kia pictured several times alongside the flagship Ranger Raptor.

The new ute – currently named Project TK, though the name Tasman has been trademarked in Australia – is set to launch around the middle of 2025, where it won't just do battle with the current Ford Ranger, but also likely with an all-new Toyota HiLux, which is due around the same time.

Reports have pointed to a concept version of the Kia ute being revealed as early as next month, which would tie neatly with the increase in pre-launch testing images currently circulating.

It's also being billed as Kia's most Australian vehicle ever, with the team here leading much of the program, and voicing most of the demands.

In fact, Kia Australia says that the amount of localisation work going into the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival makes it "not even in the same sport" as its other models.

Asked whether the new ute would be the most Australian Kia ever, the Rivero replied: "Definitely."

"It's a different sport," Mr Rivero says. "But with that involvement comes a lot of responsibility."

At least part of that pressure comes from Kia Australia promising in excess of 20,000 sales per year. But it also includes expectations from other ute-heavy markets to deliver a global dual-cab product that outshines the competition.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to...
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