Kia Kee concept

Published: 11 September 2007

Kee, huh? So what bad puns have you come up with?

Just the one: this is a key car for Kia. But whatever bad jokes we make the Korean manufacturer openly admits to this play on words. Why? Because this 2+2 coupe previews Kia’s design language for the next decade. The Kee’s design was overseen by Peter Schreyer, the man behind the original Audi TT, and Kia’s coupe just betters the current TT in all its dimensions. It’s 147mm longer, 37mm lower and 18mm wider. The Kee is powered by a 2.7-litre V6, and the 197bhp output is exactly the same as the base TT’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. This car is so close to the TT’s recipe, it makes you wonder…

A coincidence?

Not a bit of it. The coupe market has grown massively since the first TT, and not only is Kia looking to capitalise on such growth, but it wants the Kee to emulate the success that Audi has had with the TT. And it wasn’t just sales of the TT that did Audi favours either. The TT helped make the Audi brand what it is today. That’s what the Kee could do for Kia, what Peugeot hope the 308 RC Z will do for them, and what the Tango roadster would have done for Seat had that car been put into production. Kia wishes to be viewed, in the company’s own words, as ‘exciting, appealing, creative, aspirational, with products that are beautiful and yet functional, purposeful and realistic’. Thus Kia needs the Kee: it’s a great-looking little 2+2.

Will the Kee make production?

That’s what CAR Online will be finding out at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. But there is an obvious problem already: which platform to use. Kia’s sister company Hyundai is busy replacing its Coupe with a more upmarket car. And such a move may mean that that car doesn’t make it to the UK. But don’t despair because there is hope. Hyundai has the Veloster at Frankfurt, the little coupe concept that it unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show earlier this year. The Kee is only 70mm wider than the Veloster, and its wheelbase is only 75mm longer. Make a few adjustments for production and we could have coupe twins from the sister companies… Just don’t expect to see the exposed, milled aluminium B-pillar in the near future. Or the 20-inch wheels. Or the micro-switch door handles.

So what elements of the Kee can we expect to see on other Kias?

The Korean company says the ‘new style grille will become the new face of Kia’. Those Audi-esque LEDs won’t though. But strip the LEDs away and you can see hints of the Ceed in the headlights. We’ll bring you pictures of the interior as soon as we get them, but in the meantime the inside of Kee features a milled aluminium centre console and mounted atop that is the gearstick for the six-speed sequential automatic gearbox. Kia is currently on a product offensive with the impressive and fast-growing Ceed family. As well as the five-door, there is the Ceed SW (estate), the Proceed (three-door), and a possible Exceed (convertible). Also on the way is a mini-4×4 called the Soul that will also provide the basis for the next Rio. Lets hope Kia adds the Kee to this line-up.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy