Get ready to see some sporty models from Kia.
Just this week we reported that Kia is finally building a RWD sport sedan rumored to be called the GT. Now, in another interview with Autocar, the automaker has revealed that a RWD sedan is not the only sporty model planned. In fact, Kia is planning a range of GT models which will be performance versions of mainstream cars. Its first GT model, the ProCeed GT, was made exclusively for Europe. But future vehicles will be sold globally, this according to performance boss Albert Biermann, who used to work for BMW's M division.
Biermann says that, "GT is not right for all Kia models." But it's apparently right for the Optima. The Optima GT will pack a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 242 hp. Kia is also planning a GT version of the Rio to rival the Ford Fiesta ST. Biermann says he would also love to do a Sportage GT, "but we need to make the case for it." Unlike the Hyundai N division cars, which are also in development, Kia's GT models won't be built with track use in mind. This means that these cars won't get expensive technology like the electronically controlled limited slip differential that was developed for the Hyundai i30N. Biermann says the goal is to build cars that "drive as well as they look."
It really sounds like Biermann is the right guy to help Kia finally build cars that are interesting to drive. He even gave praise to his Korean engineering team, saying how quickly they get things done. He said, "I took three powertrain guys out in the Optima GT prototype last summer and told them what I liked and what I didn't, they were writing notes the whole time. The automatic gearbox wasn't very good, the implementation – it was slow, you could downshift before a corner and it wouldn't give you the gear in time. Six weeks later they showed me a new iteration and it was so much better, it was like a different car, and they still wanted to know what I thought, they still wanted to make it better."
Although a 242-hp four-cylinder doesn't sound like the most exciting engine for a sporty Optima, if Kia could finally crack the code of making a car "feel" sporty then we could be getting an awesome new range of enthusiasts cars.