Kia will put the wildly popular GT concept vehicle unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show into production, according to reports from Korea. Or, to be more precise, it will add a GT model that will borrow some of the show car’s design cues but which may undergo significant changes from the vehicle displayed in Germany.
Most notably, the production Kia GT may wind up shifting away from the concept’s rear-wheel-drive layout, opting instead for a front-drive platform like those used for all but the Korean maker’s biggest new executive car.
“We have plans to build a GT – we spoke about it at our global marketing conference in Singapore,” Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s vice-president of overseas marketing, told the British publication Auto Express. “We’ll be mainly targeting the end of 2016 or early 2017.”
The GT concept was one of a number of recent offerings penned under the guidance of Kia’s well-respected global design director Peter Schreyer to generate serious buzz among the automotive community, the Korean carmaker quickly suggesting it would consider a production version.
(Spy Shots: Jeep’s Jeepster caught in testing. Click Here for a closer look.)
The concept featured an unusually short front overhang with scooped side intakes framing the signature Kia grille – here moved higher up than on the brand’s other models. From the side, a character line swept off the front fenders, topping the door sills and providing a foundation for a sporty roof line that curved inward in an almost ‘60s-era fastback fashion. From the rear, a large carbon fiber diffuser anchored horizontal exhaust pipes.
Inside, the GT Concept was decidedly luxurious and sporty, with super-thin, racing-style seats. The cabin was accessed through four doors including two pillar-less, rear “suicide” portals.
It was certainly not the sort of design you might have expected just a few years ago from the Korean carmaker. No more eye candy for the kids promising a cheap ride and no real power, ala the Soul.
(First drive: 2014 Kia Soul. Click Here for the complete review.)
But how much of the show car will carry over is far from certain – starting with the GT concept’s rear-drive platform. As Auto Express noted in its report, the only such platform currently available from the maker is the one anchoring the big new Kia K9 model.
As to what other options, sources suggest Kia could be looking to go several ways, such as sharing the architecture of the Genesis Coupe produced by sibling Korean maker Kia – if it has enough flexibility to handle the four-door body layout. Another approach might be giving the GT an all-wheel-drive option off a front-drive package, in line with Audi has done so successfully.
Acquired by Hyundai following its own bankruptcy at the beginning of the new Millennium, Kia has been struggling to both increase its brand perception and put more breathing room between it and Hyundai. Schreyer’s designs have helped with distinctive models such as the Optima, Kia’s alternative to the partner brand’s Sonata.
(First look: 2015 Cadillac Escalade. Click Here to check it out.)
Like Hyundai, however, Kia is looking to add more breadth to its line-up and, among other things, is looking at everything from a luxury entry to something small and sporty. The maker is expected to reveal a new roadster at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January that would apparently be its answer to the likes of the next-generation Mazda MX-5 and the anticipated open top version of the Scion FR-S. What sources say will be revealed in Detroit should reach production later in the year.