Kia is quietly readying a string of sportier models to pep up its humdrum image, CAR has learned. The burgeoning sports car plan is likely to sire everything from hot hatches to standalone sports cars.
On our trip to Korea this week, sources at Kia HQ confirmed a range of performance models, designed to mix some excitement into a brand that now commands respect from mainstream buyers after its crawl upmarket to the volume market alongside Europe's mass-market brands.
Kia will never be a sporting brand, but the Koreans recognise the value performance variants can have across the range.
Performance Kias? Whatever next?
Officials at Kia openly mention the Ceed Turbo, a 2.0-litre unit with a blower for more oomph. It's not quite clear at this stage what output this warm hatch will possess, but we know that engineers are tweaking the suspension to give it handling to match the power. Interestingly, they are benchmarking the VW Scirocco for this junior GTI.
Of more interest to enthusiasts will be the rear-wheel drive concept car being readied for a debut at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. We're not quite clear what sort of model this is shaping up to be, but at the Nanyang test track we spotted a BMW M3 four-door and a Nissan GT-R on test.
A Kia M3? Steady on!
We laugh now, but look at how far Kia has travelled since it sold the dreadful Pride in the 1980s. And those embarrassing white tyre walls. It's come a long way.
Senior research engineer Donghee Han told CAR his team often think what a V6 turbo rear-wheel drive Kia coupe would be like. Sounds like Kia's version of the Genesis to us. And what's not to like about that?
Stay tuned for more news throughout 2011. We should have a clearer idea of their plans by the time of this autumn's 2011 Frankfurt motor show.