Kia planning its own ‘Toyobaru’ sports car

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

Kia is taking its own sweet time to make a production car that's inspired by the 2008 Kee Coupe Concept. It's believed that the outcome would be a compact, rear-driven, affordable production sports car using recycled platform technology from Hyundai's Genesis Coupe.

In an exclusive interview with Autocar, Kia design director Peter Schreyer said that while the Kee wasn't in the European product plan for the next two years, he confirmed that the company is very keen to bring added strength and desirability to the Kia brand with such a car.

What would make the Kee more expensive to make is the use of a rear-driven platform however, Schreyer said that Kia will be supporting its adoption.

Within the next two years, Kia will be focusing on the replacement and renewal of its current lineup of core models. Sometime in 2011, Kia will launch an all-new Picanto, a replacement for the Rio as well as a new Magentis.

The reason behind making these models a priority is due to their proven volume-selling abilities. Schreyer added that the Kee doesn't have the numbers to back its production yet. Schreyer said that Kia doesn't have the same stature as Audi or Porsche, which could create demand simply by announcing the car to the market.

He called Kia's Korean executive management board to be "habitually conservative and pragmatic" citing that Kia wouldn't invest in a sportscar before it's clear that a profit will be made. He said that Kia has to "grow a little more in stature" before the steps to manufacture the Kee can proceed.

Schreyer said that if Kia's growth in Europe continues at the current rate, it's possible that the Kee will be ready in five years. It's also possible that it would be spun off from the Cee'd or Magentis platform but in his opinion, a rear-wheel drive would be ideal.

The Kee is set to compete against the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota's new rear-driven coupe. He asserted that Kee would "not need to be very fast or very powerful, but it should be compact, affordable and fun -- a true sports car."

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