Several sports and performance cars — including a large, flagship rear-drive coupé — are on Kia’s agenda as the Korean company seeks to continue building on its brand image over the next few years.
However, Kia is also thinking about taking a model based on chief designer Peter Schreyer’s rear-drive GT coupé concept — seen at 2011 Geneva motor show — through to production.
Vice-chairman and CEO Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee says the company is “seriously looking” at turning the GT into reality.
“In my opinion, a sports car should be rear-wheel drive,” said Lee. “When I was at Hyundai we tried the Coupe with front-wheel drive. It was considered sporty looking, but the driveability was different.
“We haven’t decided yet, but we need a certain product to help with our brand image. We have tried a couple of concept cars and found some potential in the GT. We will try a couple more in the future, starting at Geneva next year, and test the media and consumer response before choosing one.” Lee said the decision would be made “in a short time”.
Schreyer is keen on adding a small, nimble sports car to Kia’s range, similar in spirit if not appearance to the Mazda MX-5. Lee admitted there is “potential” in the idea, but that no decisions have been taken.
The priority at the moment, he said, is to bring the hot Procee’d — known internally as HPV, but widely expected to be badged GT — to market.
It will be powered by a 200bhp version of Hyundai-Kia’s T-GDi turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and will be offered with a choice of six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Schreyer has also given the hot hatch a look that sets it apart from the rest of the three-door Procee’d range, said Lee.
Kia has only once previously dabbled with making sports cars. In 1997 it bought the design rights to the Lotus Elan and began a small-scale production run, with one of its own engines in place of the original Isuzu unit.
A year later, however, Kia went bust as Asia’s tiger economies collapsed, leading to the takeover by Hyundai. Since then, the company’s offerings have stayed firmly on the straight and narrow.