2011 Frankfurt Preview: Kia shows its rear-wheel drive four-door sports sedan concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 19, 2011

Kia confirmed that a rear-drive sporty coupe concept will be introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September. For now, this concept is meant to check the response to the model. It has yet to be decided though if it will enter production. Sources say that the RWD coupe is aimed at the BMW 3-series.

This is quite an ambitious goal since the Genesis coupe that the concept is based on isn’t at the same level as the Chevy Camaro and it certainly can’t keep up with the 10Best-winning Ford Mustang.

The Genesis coupe will be receiving improvements on its chassis and powertrain for 2013. It’s believed that most or all of these will be carried to a RWD Kia counterpart. Kia also has plans to launch an electric vehicle. It intends to offer an EV model in Korea starting in 2012, with a crossover-based electric arriving in 2014 for global markets.

The U.S. is likely to be one of those markets. Kia is also working on a replacement for the Sedona minivan. It was implied that this may have a resemblance to the KV7 concept, which made its debut at the Detroit show this year. Kia’s current design language would look better on the wagon/crossover than one that has a traditional minivan appearance. Of course, the gullwing doors of the concept aren’t expected to make it.

“No matter from which perspective you look at it – this concept car is roaring with energy and ready for take-off,” says Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Chief Design Officer, proudly. “I believe the car is a strong statement from Kia: we are ready to fast forward to an all new chapter.”

The Kia GT concept car represents the brand’s new and uniquely ultra-modern and energetic design philosophy. Being Kia’s first rear-wheel driven four-door sports sedan, the GT concept combines a smoothly sinewy silhouette with refined four-seater cabin.

Though the Kia GT was first conceptualised only in November 2010, the company’s European designers had actually entertained the idea of a powerful rear-wheel drive saloon prior to that. Kia Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer states that the GT concept was an exciting design experiment for the company since rear-drive cars can be vastly different from front-wheel drive cars in terms of layout and proportion. He adds that for American and European markets, as well as the Korean market, “the classic front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout of a performance saloon has distinct appeal.”

Gregory Guillaume, Kia's European Design Chief, said that from the beginning, their design team took inspiration from the GT cars of the 1970s, as these stylishly iconic vehicles were “whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France” with speed and in luxury. The aim was to adapt the same spirit of grace, dynamism and confidence, without getting arrogant or pompous.

The emphasis on sportive performance is evident in the car’s aeronautical aesthetics. Its alloy and carbon-fibre wheels have a propeller-like multi-piece design, while the rear-view cameras seem to be derived from a jet. Also, the lower front air intake, aerodynamic rear diffuser and the winglets that are moulded with the front corners and the headlamps all look decidedly aerial.

This specific design theme traces its roots from the Kia Kee concept car, which was exhibited at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Kia GT also shares principal design features with the 2010 Pop concept. Overall, Kia shows design continuity among the three cars, even if their styling details differ vastly.

Schreyer and Guillaume agreed on a basic design objective of creating a car that clearly can only be a rear-driven performance saloon. With the elongated bonnet, front wheels almost at the front end, rear set cabin, robust rear shoulders and abbreviated rear, they truly did come up with such a stunning design.

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