Kia’s 2008 Kee coupe concept could be turned into a compact, rear-driven, affordable production sports car using recycled platform technology from Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe.
In an exclusive interview Kia design director Peter Schreyer told Autocar that the Kee wasn’t in the European product plan for the next two years, but also confirmed that he is very keen to bring added strength and desirability to the Kia brand with such a car.
What’s more, Schreyer would back the adoption of a rear-driven platform, even though it could make the Kee more costly to manufacture.
“The next two years are about replacing and renewing our current line up of core models,” he said. “Before the end of 2011 we will launch an all-new Picanto, a replacement for the Rio and a new Magentis.
“These are naturally our priorities because they are proven volume sellers. And the problem with Kee is that no one – not in Europe, the USA or Korea – can say with confidence what numbers the Kee would sell in.
“We are not like Audi or Porsche. We are not in a position to just create something and then announce to the market that it’s the perfect kind of sports car.”
Schreyer also told Autocar that Kia’s Korean executive management board is habitually conservative and pragmatic. meaning that, unlike Lexus with the IS-F, Kia would never invest in a sports car before a watertight and profitable business case was made.
“When you’re making cars like this, it’s important to make them with a great deal of confidence,” he went on. “So I think the Kia brand has to grow a little more in stature before the time will be right for Kee.”
“Assuming Kia’s European fortunes continue to improve at the rate they are now, we could be ready in, say, five years for a car like Kee. We could spin it off the Cee’d or Magentis platform, but for me, it would be important for the Kee to be rear-wheel drive. And there is, of course, already a rear-driven platform within the Hyundai-Kia group that we could look to use, if our timing was good.
“We would have to aim to rival the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota’s new rear-driven coupe. The car would not need to be very fast or very powerful, but it should be compact, affordable and fun – a true sports car.”