Expect to see a production version of the Kia Novo sports sedan concept come to market next year as part of the Korean carmaker’s increasing push to take on more exclusive Japanese and European competitors.
The production model will be the first sporty model from either Kia or sibling Hyundai since the not-so-sporty Veloster and will be slightly smaller than the current Hyundai Genesis Coupe, according to several sources. A report by the Reuters news service said project is codenamed CK and is expected to reach market by May 2017.
Once known for its small, affordable – and bland – products, Kia has been trying to reposition itself, much like Hyundai, which is just launching the all-new Genesis luxury brand. Kia is putting more of an emphasis on sporty products after getting a tepid response to its own luxury model, the K900.
Kia has had better luck in more mainstream segments with distinctively designed products like the compact Soul crossover. Soul is one of a string of well-reviewed models that have come to market since the Korean maker brought in former Audi design chief Peter Schreyer in 2006.
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Schreyer helped developed the signature “tiger nose” grille found on all of Kia’s latest models, and has laid out a more sporty design language that has helped differentiate the brand from Hyundai. Schreyer is now one of three CEOs at Hyundai-Kia and is also overseeing the development of the new Genesis brand.
It’s unclear how much of the Novo concept’s design cues will return in production form with the upcoming CK, but Kia wants to give the new model the same sort of flair that has turned the Soul into a brand icon.
“Kia hit a home run with the Soul – they figured out how to keep it fresh and fun,” AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan told Reuters. “Apply this formula to a rear-wheel drive sedan and they might be able to go after a younger consumer who is bored with the played-out BMW 3-Series.”
Depending upon the market, the CK sports sedan would likely offer a variety of naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines, ranging as high 3.0-liters in displacement, according to sources.
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The goal is to sell approximately 60,000 of the new sports sedans annually. Pricing is uncertain, but Kia also has more up-market aspirations than with the mainstream Soul, and could try to target the likes of the Audi A5 and other European models.
Despite the lackluster success of both the K900 and the similar Hyundai Equus, both Korean brands continue to have luxury aspirations. But Kia isn’t planning – at least for now – to copy Hyundai and set up its own luxury brand.
Hyundai is expected to come up with a sports sedan for Genesis, as well. It is not clear whether that model will use the same “architecture” as the production Novo, but the two brands typically share platforms to improve their economies of scale.
(To see more about Kia’s full-size SUV concept, the KCD12, Click Here.)
Hyundai is now looking at its options for a small crossover-utility vehicle that would likely use the same platform as the Kia Soul, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski told TheDetroitBureau.com last week.