When CAR visited Kia’s Korean test facility in Namyang back in April 2011, there were several clues to suggest the company was looking into some kind of high-performance saloon: we saw an M3 and a Nissan GT-R in the car park, plus a senior engineer told us that he and the team often pondered what it would be like to build a – very specific this – V6 turbo, rear-wheel drive sports coupe.
Board members, meanwhile, suggested we wait until the 2011 Frankfurt motor show to see what performance treats they had planned. Well, here’s the first glimpse of what all those clues could mean: the Kia GT.
Kia GT: a rear-wheel drive sports coupe
Designed by design boss Peter Schreyer and European design chief Gregory Guillaume, the GT draws inspiration from the 2007 Kia Kee concept, while its bodywork purposefully emphasises the form of a front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe, hence – according to the PR blurb – ‘the extended bonnet with the front wheels pushed right to the very front of the car, the cab-rearward stance, powerful rear shoulders and truncated rear end.’
'This concept allows us to explore exciting new design directions, as using a rear-drive layout creates very different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car,’ says Schreyer.
‘At the onset of this project,’ adds Guillaume, ‘the design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and at high speed. We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing.’
A 3.3 V6 turbo V6 Kia? Whatever next...
Kia has no previous rear-wheel drive form, although sister company Hyundai makes both the Genesis coupe and saloon in rear-drive only – therefore giving Kia access to a suitable platform. Under the skin of the GT lies a 3.3-litre direct injection, turbo V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Together they deliver 390bhp and 394lb ft to the rear wheels.
An M3 rival is an ambitious place for a brand like Kia to embark on its performance strategy – perhaps too ambitious. So it’s more likely we’ll see it unleashing a hot hatch first. Still, consider our appetite well and truly whet.