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Is Kia about to follow Hyundai's lead and launch a luxury brand to rival Lexus?

Kia's cars have become increasing more sophisticated and expensive.

Toyota has Lexus, Hyundai has Genesis and now the powers that be at Kia Australia have revealed their thoughts about a luxury sub-brand for themselves.

A prestige division seems like the next logical move for a carmaker which has gone from producing hatches, sedans and SUVs for the budget-conscious buyer in the past to today’s seriously sophisticated offerings today such as the new Sportage and Sorento SUVs, and soon-to-arrive EV6 electric vehicle, which don’t all come cheap.

Not only are Kia’s vehicles becoming more expensive and high-end feeling, but the opening of a prestige sub-brand would be following in the footsteps of sister brand Hyundai which launched its Genesis luxury brand in 2015.

This would also allow Kia to continue to produce cheap and cheerful mainstays such as the Picanto and Rio.

Kia Australia’s chief operating officer, Damien Meredith, is adamant, however, that a luxury sub-brand won’t come.

“There might be, but not in my time,” he said.

Lexus has been in the Australia market for over 30 years, so to develop a prestige luxury brand takes a long, long, long time, and it gets back to what we want to do with the Kia brand in Australia.

“We want an enduring robust brand that can sell cars at $20,000 and sell cars at $100,000. That’s where we’re going and where we want to go.

“We want to be able to sell that breadth of product exceptionally well, and I think that’s more beneficial than saying we’re going to be a prestige brand.”

Kia’s vehicles are becoming more expensive and high-end feeling. Kia’s vehicles are becoming more expensive and high-end feeling.

Head of Kia Australia’s product planning, Roland Rivero, explained that there was only room for one luxury brand within the Hyundai Motor Group.

“What we like to think of it as - and what we’ve heard from our superiors also - is that Genesis is the prestige brand for the group. So, it’s not a case of it being a prestige Hyundai or a prestige Kia.”    

While Genesis has an enormous task ahead if it intends to catch Lexus, it’s clear the brand has been undergoing a concentrated push with the first GV70 and GV80 SUVs, and new G70 and G80 sedans.