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.