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.

A high-performance version of next year’s second-generation Kia Procee’d, which made its debut at the recent Paris motor show, has already been confirmed for production from the middle of next year.

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.

Roger Stansfield