The Kia K2700 is a cab chassis, also called a half truck or chassis cab. Other vehicle classifications used to describe it are medium-duty pickup and light commercial vehicle. Kia Motors has been producing it for over four generations since 1980 to the present, but it was released in Australia only from 2002 until 2008. It was replaced in the market by the Kia K2900 from 2008 till 2013.
Kia’s K-Series, where the K2700 is only one among the many variants, is also known as the Kia Bongo, Kia Besta, Kia Frontier, Kia Bongo III, Bongo Frontier, and Forland K1. It is a series of rear-wheel drive pickup trucks, RVs, and vans. In this article, however, the focus will be on the K2700 and K2900 pickup trucks, particularly the specific versions that made it to the Australian soil.
1st Generation: 1980–1993
The Kia Bongos were built as early as 1980, although these early versions did not reach the Australian market. The pickup truck variant was called Power Bongo. Like most Kia vehicles in the 1980s, it wore the classic “Kiamaster” logo. The Power Bongo was initially powered by a 2.2L S2 engine (51 kW), but later versions used 1.4L UC petrol and 2.4L SF diesel (59 kW) engines.
These light trucks were so successful that in 1987, while the regular Bongos were still selling, production went underway for a broader version. This more comprehensive model was marketed later in the year as the Bongo Wide. Meanwhile, a one-tonne agricultural version of the Bongo, called the Kia Ceres, was sold alongside the regular Bongo. It was available in rear-wheel and four-wheel drives, and later on only as a four-wheel drive. It continued to be sold during the period when the Bongo was discontinued in 1993.
2nd Generation: 1989–1997
In 1989, the second-generation Bongo Wide was developed. It’s worth noting that this took place within the first-generation Bongo’s era. This overlapping shows that some first- and second-generation Bongos were produced and marketed alongside each other.
The second-generation Bongo Wide was a rebadged fourth-generation Mazda E-series (Bongo Brawny). It had a passenger van version named Besta, which was later replaced by Kia Pregio.
Another name for Bongo Wide is Bongo J2, which gives a clue to its engine—a 2.7L J2 diesel engine (59 kW). For most export markets, it was rebranded as the K2400 and K2700.
3rd Generation: 1997–2004
The third-generation Bongo was released with the nameplate Bongo Frontier. Two years later, the four-wheel-drive version labelled as the Bongo Frontier All Terrain was introduced. The same 2.7L J2 engine was offered for this generation with an option for a 3.0L JT engine (66 kW). In 2000, it received a facelift and a power-boosted J2 engine.
This is the generation of Bongo that was first introduced in Australia in 2000, and it was labelled K2700. The Australian-released version was fitted with the upgraded 2.7L J2 diesel engine attached to a 5-speed manual transmission, which had a maximum power output of 62 kW and peak torque of 172 N⋅m.
These trims and equipment came standard with the K2700 model that was marketed in Australia: 2-speaker radio/CD, air conditioning, central locking remote control, engine immobilizer, power steering, and power windows.
This load-lugger enjoyed over 50% of the market share in the light truck sector. Even with its success, however, production was halted in 2003. Remaining stocks supplied the market through 2004.
4th Generation: 2005 - present
After a facelift and an improvement in its suspension, steering, and brakes, the Bongo reemerged as Kia Bongo III in 2005. The cabin was reconfigured to provide more headroom and legroom. The seat cushions were thicker, and the backrests were broader and higher. The engine, too, was enhanced for increased fuel efficiency and compliance with emission regulations.
The same engine offering was available in Australia from 2005-2008, but with slightly reduced power. The modified 2.7L J2 diesel engine was still mated to a 5-speed manual transmission but was now rated at 57 kW peak power. Peak torque remained at 172 N⋅m.
In 2014, more extensive updates were introduced, including a redesigned body, a modified grille, a new tyre size, and an optional turbocharged engine. However, the K2700 had already been shelved in Australia as early as 2008, so this 2014 version was only available to other markets.
Production of the Bongo K2700 continues to the present, but for the Australian market, another Kia model had served the light commercial truck segment from 2008 to 2013.
In the land down under, the Kia K2900 CRDi picked it up where the K2700 left off in 2008. The most significant improvement was the engine in the new cab chassis. It was a 2.9L K3 common-rail turbocharged diesel engine paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. It packed 92 kW of power and 243 N⋅m torque (both peak values). Emissions-wise, the K3 engine was Euro IV-compliant compared to its predecessor, which was only Euro II-compliant.
With enhanced chassis and suspension, the K2900 featured 1740kg payload, which was a substantial leap from the outgoing truck’s 1259kg. It had a corresponding tray capacity of 1481kg compared to K2700’s 1000kg. Its standard equipment and trims included: 2-speaker radio/CD, air conditioning, central locking remote control, cloth trim, engine immobilizer, power steering, power windows, and tilt-adjustable steering wheel.
These initial spec offerings remained the same until 2013, the last year that the K2900 was marketed in Australia.
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)