Fast-expanding Kia plans to launch an Audi A5-style coupe concept at the Frankfurt show in mid-September, as a prelude to a varied sequence of “image” car concepts at forthcoming major shows, understood to include Detroit and Geneva 2012.

Company chiefs say the time is now right for some eye-grabbing Kia models. Sales of the current range of “everyman” saloons, hatchbacks and SUVs have doubled over the past four years to around 2.5 million units. The new concepts will be created within Kia’s design studios in Seoul, Frankfurt and California.

Prospective models are likely to include a small front-drive roadster, based on Cee’d mechanicals, a rear-drive coupe along the lines of the Hyundai’s Genesis, and a drop-top version of the Soul, the latter targeted on the US market where the parent model has been a particular success.

“We have made good progress recently,” says Kia’s vice chairman and CEO, Hank Lee. “but it is now important for us to improve our brand power. Concepts like these will help a lot with that. But we are prepared to take our time. We will test plenty of ideas before we make any decisions about production.”

Kia’s European boss, Paul Philpott, says the logical time for Kia to launch some high-image cars would be in 2013, by which time all its mainstream cars will have been renewed. “We could do with a new Kia product to do the job of the Mazda MX-5,” he says, and "2013-2014 would be the ideal time to do it. But our factories in Europe, China, America and Korea are already at full stretch. The big challenge will be finding the extra production capacity we’ll need."

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