SOUTH KOREA: Kia goes for a sporty image boost
Kia GT concept was shown at Frankfurt in 2011
Kia is looking to add sports and performance cars to its range to help raise its brand image, and is even considering a rear-wheel-drive coupé based on the 2011 GT concept.
First in line is a high-performance version of next year's second-generation pro_cee'd, which made its debut at the Paris show.
It will be powered by a 200bhp, 1.6-litre, direct injection, turbo engine and offered with six-speed manual and double-clutch automatic transmissions. It goes into production in the middle of next year.
Kia's vice-chairman and CEO Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee said the company was "seriously looking" at the idea of building a car based on the GT coupé concept from last year's Frankfurt show. If it goes ahead, it will almost certainly be RWD.
"In my opinion a sports car should be RWD," Lee said. "When I was at Hyundai we tried the Coupé with front-wheel drive. It was considered sporty looking, but the driveability was different.
"We haven't decided yet, but we need a certain product to help with our brand image. We have tried a couple of concept cars and found some potential in the GT. We will try a couple more in the future, starting at Geneva next year, and test the media and consumer response before choosing one."
Kia has had a sports car in its range in the past, in 1997, when it bought the design rights to the Lotus Elan and began a small production run with one of its own engines in place of the original Isuzu unit. But a year later Kia went bust as Asia's 'tiger' economies collapsed, leading to the takeover by Hyundai.
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