Kia, the Korean automaker best known for small, fuel-efficient vehicles and SUVs, is hinting at a bold new direction with a dramatic rear-drive concept car that will be unveiled at next week's Frankfurt auto show.
The sedan, which the unofficial images leaked on the internet over the weekend suggest will be named the GT, will be the first in a series of new concepts that Kia will use to explore new market segments and prove its capabilities of building style-led models above its current range of traditional hatchbacks, sedans and crossovers.
Official details of the four-door concept are scarce, and Kia hasn't officially released any fresh information or images, but Autocar reports it to be based on sister firm Hyundai's Genesis sedan, with a powerful V8 engine under the hood. The concept, believed to have been designed in Kia's Frankfurt design studio, provides a striking message about Kia's future expansion plans and will provide the blueprint for the firm's new design direction under chief designer Peter Schreyer.
“I believe this car is a strong statement from Kia,” says Schreyer, formerly of Audi. “We are ready to fast forward to an all new chapter.”
The muscular concept features a bold, purposeful front-end with Kia's new familiar "Schreyer grille." It gets a gently sloping roof line, heavily sculpted sides and a sleek design for the rear lights.
Schreyer believes his concept is “roaring with energy and ready for take-off” from all perspectives. The interior, which is barely visible in the pictures, is said by Kia to be “a sophisticated and elegant four-seat cockpit."
The Korean company insists the concept is more a statement of intent rather than a preview of a new model in a German-dominated market segment never before occupied by Kia. The sedan concept will be followed up by a drop-top version of the Soul for the U.S. market and a small front-drive roadster, based on Cee'd mechanicals. These concepts are expected to be launched at the Detroit and Geneva 2012 auto shows, respectively.
“We have made good progress recently,” Kia's vice chairman and CEO, Hank Lee, told Autocar last month. “But it is now important for us to improve our brand power. Concepts like these will help a lot with that. But we are prepared to take our time. We will test plenty of ideas before we make any decisions about production.”
Other new Kias on display at Frankfurt will be a three-door Rio and a facelift for the Soul.