Concept-inspired showroom car will be a four-door sports saloon with an anticipated 315bhp
1 August 2016

Kia is poised to launch a stylish four-door sports saloon that takes its inspiration from the firm’s GT concept car.

The Stinger GT revealed - full story here

It’s five years since Kia first showed the GT concept at the 2011 Frankfurt show, but now the long wait for its production equivalent is almost over.

The showroom version, due next year, will stick closely to the formula suggested by the GT concept. That means a rear-wheel drive chassis and low-slung, coupé-like styling, with a variety of engines that will include a high-performance version.

Although this won’t be the first rear-drive Kia, the production GT will be far more dynamically focused than the existing K9/K900 limousine, which is not sold in Europe.

Speaking at the opening of Hyundai-Kia's new proving ground in South Korea last week, Albert Biermann, the company's head of performance and high performance, said: “There is no point producing a rear-wheel-drive car unless you are going to take advantage of the benefits the layout brings.”

The prototype that has been spied testing appears to be a four-door coupé rather than a conventional three-box saloon. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, Hyundai-Kia design boss Peter Schreyer was happy to drop some broad hints about the car’s likely body style.

“I think that acceptance or demand for two-door models has changed,” he said, when asked about a halo model for the Kia range. “I think it’s more towards four-door coupés or saloons, or coupé-like saloons, if that’s what you want to call them.

“Two-door coupés are a little bit on the decline. It would be nice to make a new coupé, but if there is no demand, what’s the point?”

We’re told that the GT will sit at the top of the Kia range, and that its production means that there are no current plans to produce a halo-buffing sportscar. Schreyer’s comments would also appear to suggest that we’re unlikely to see a production version of the two-door GT4 Stinger concept that Kia showed off in 2014 any time soon, although we believe that the four-door GT will use a version of that car’s high-output turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Stinger’s output was quoted as 315bhp when it made its debut at the Detroit motor show.

Other engines for the GT include a Europe-focused diesel, which Biermann comfirmed he had recently driven in prototype form around the Nurburgring. “It was already very nice, but there’s definitely more [performance] to come than the diesel,” he said. Although Kia has been working on a 48V electrically boosted four-cylinder diesel engine mild hybrid, it's believed that this won't be fitted to the GT. Instead, the most likely candidate is thought to be the 197bhp 2.2-litre unit that’s used by the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Beyond that, things are set to get more interesting with Biermann’s confirmation that there will be a high-performance version, which is expected to use Hyundai-Kia’s 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 ‘Lamda’ engine. This is the motor that will be used in future Genesis models, including the G70 that is being developed alongside the GT, and which produces 380bhp in basic form. It’s conceivable that the engine could be tweaked to match, or even beat, the 427bhp delivered by the BMW M4’s turbocharged straight six – a car that Biermann led development on during his previous time working for BMW's M division.

“There will be a sporty version available and the performance level of that car is not far away from a pure sports car’s,” he said. “It’s not a sports car, but it will perform in a very nice way.”

Despite earlier suggestions that the GT might use a V8 engine, this now seems to be unlikely. "We can get almost as much from a six-cylinder engine as we can from an eight-cylinder, and of course there are other advantages in terms of weight and packaging and emissions," said Biermann.

The remaining mystery is what the finished car will be called. Kia’s decision to use GT as a model designation for punchier versions of its existing line-up would make it confusing to use the same name for a whole model line.

At the moment the car is known internally by the design code CK, with Biermann and his team leading development of both it and the Genesis G70. There’s no word on price yet, but we predict that the Kia will be considerably cheaper in markets where both it and the Genesis are sold together, with an expected price of around £30,000 for a basic UK model, which would make it a relative performance bargain. We’ll see the production version next year.

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