Kia is reportedly keen on building up some enthusiasm for its brand with a new sportscar and hot hatch.
Though many of Kia's models offer compelling alternatives to their (often more costly) Japanese rivals, the brand lacks charisma. For that, a company like Kia needs a halo model - something to drum up excitement and bring customers into showrooms. And to that end, Kia is said to be working on a new rear-drive sportscar. The development was revealed to Autocar magazine in speaking to Kia's CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee, who pointed to the Kia GT concept revealed at the Geneva Motor Show last year as the template.
While the production version - which Lee is apparently committed to keeping rear-wheel drive - likely won't follow the existing concept's formula straight through to production, Kia is reportedly planning on presenting a succession of concept sportscars at major auto shows (starting with the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in March) that it will use to gauge public opinion on which direction it should take. Rather than develop a new platform, however, Kia could borrow the architecture that underpins the Genesis Coupe from sister-brand Hyundai. Just where Kia would position the model, however, is another question.
Autocar points to the Mazda MX-5 Miata as the target, but close to that is the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ, which in turn comes close to the aforementioned Genesis. (The last time Kia offered a sportscar was with the rights it bought to the Lotus Elan in 1997 and built in small numbers with a new engine.) While Kia sorts out those plans, however, it is also preparing to roll out a new hot hatch. Based on the Procee'd, the performance model would reportedly pack a 200hp version of the company's 1.6-liter turbo four with either a manual or dual-clutch transmission. The short of it, then, is that Kia has some excitement up its sleeve, so watch this space.