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The big Kia ute question: Will a four-cylinder turbo-diesel be enough to take on the dual-cab heavyweights like the Toyota HiLux GR Sport and Ford Ranger Raptor?

Will Kia's ute be powerful enough to set a benchmark? (Image: The Korean Car Blog)

Kia has made no bones about its incoming ute, likely called the Tasman following a trademark filing, aiming to be crowned the benchmark dual-cab ute in Australia, but to do it, it will need to unseat segment heavyweights like the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, as well as favourites like the Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara.

When news of Kia's game-changing ute first broke, all thoughts went to some of the Hyundai group's big and punchy six-cylinder diesel engine options.

But a four-cylinder turbo-diesel (presumably a new engine to match the new platform) is now firming as the engine of choice, with the brand telling us it's going after volume, which would require the most popular ute engine option.

"We've said all along that if we're going to develop this vehicle, then it has to be a solid competitor for HiLux and Ranger," Kia Australia's GM of Product Planning, Roland Rivero, told CarsGuide.

"Look at the big-ticket (engines) that are doing the most sales. We always cut it up and dissect accordingly and look at where the big volume is."

The question now, of course, is will four-cylinder turbo-diesel be enough to upend Australia's ute market?

To do it, it will need to out-punch the Toyota HiLux, and specifically the incoming HiLux GR Sport, which is home to the familiar 2.8-litre turbo-diesel, only with a 10 percent power bump to produce 165kW and 550Nm.

Then there's the Ford Ranger, which can be had with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder bi-turbo-diesel which produces 154kW and 500Nm. There's also a diesel V6 (184kW and 600Nm) and a twin-turbo petrol V6 in the Raptor (292kW and 583Nm), but you'd have to think Kia's ute will be aiming to best its four-cylinder rivals only.

And besting them is exactly what's planned, with Kia telling us it's not "mucking around" when it comes to its Project TK dual cab.

"We're definitely aiming for (the benchmark)," Rivero has told us.

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