The Optima will follow the Sonata with a bold design
With Hyundai giving the new Sonata its North American debut in the Big Apple, the arrival of a fifth generation of its platform-mate, the Kia Optima, should not be far off. While the previous Sonata had a conservative design, Hyundai's new Sonata sports an elegant, sleek design. This got us wondering what's in store for its sister vehicle when the overhaul does arrive. At the 2019 New York Auto Show, we caught up with Michael Cole, the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President for Kia Motors America, to learn a bit about what to expect from Kia in the future.
"Design has to be central to our product," said Cole, "Design is a key identifier for us." With such a strong emphasis on aesthetics, its should not be a surprise that Cole says the next generation Optima will be a car that "people will see it and go, 'Wow.'"
With the declining sales in the sedan segment, Cole says that "if you're going to be a successful player in that part of the market, you need to do it with something that looks good." Most important, good design is in Kia's history, with Cole reminding us that design "was a key driver in Kia's growth strategy in the US."
Kia used the New York Auto Show to show off a new special edition Stinger GT-S, which comes with a drift mode. When we asked about the Stinger Atlantica, a special edition which was reportedly cancelled, Cole explained that they instead went with the GT-S because they wanted to focus on something "which was giving us not only some styling cues, but also something different in terms of the performance."
We inquired as to whether performance additions like the drift mode would trickle down to other Stinger models, but Cole responded, "I don't think that would become like a standard part of the the next evolution of the vehicle," with it most likely to appear on future special editions, if anywhere.
When asked if an SUV based on the Stinger platform could be in the cards, Cole said it was unlikely, but did give us a slimmer of hope, saying, "you can never say never, of course." Kia had showed off some off-road specials when debuting its new Telluride SUV, but Cole said that while they have mulled over the idea of a TRD-style trim for SUVs internally, "there's no intention now." At the moment, Kia seems pleased with the positioning of the Telluride and no need to expand the lineup. We look forward to seeing the next generation Optima soon.