Kia executives divided on whether brand should offer sporty roadster

Article by Christian A., on May 6, 2014

Kia Motors Corp. global design chief Peter Schreyer dreams of a sporty roadster, but that might remain a dream at least for now. According to Kia’s overseas marketing chief Lee Soon-nam, such vehicle would not adequately build the brand or increase profits and the carmaker must first focus on boosting brand image and awareness.

Lee told Automotive News that niche products like the roadster would only result to smaller volume, which means they couldn’t enhance Kia’s brand image fully. He said that Kia would like to build its brand image to some level, after which it can maximize the effects of the new car launch.

Lee’s remarks indicate an internal row on how the Kia brand should be developed and be differentiated from Hyundai Motor Co. Schreyer, who is also global design chief at Hyundai, has claims that Kia needs a small sporty car to help solidify its image as the youthful choice.

Kia unveiled its GT4 Stinger 2+2 sports coupe concept at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Schreyer said at the 2014 New York auto show that an upmarket, sporty rear-wheel-drive four-door coupe -- inspired by the GT Concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show -- had been all but approved for production. Lee, however, expressed two concerns on Schreyer’s strategy.

First, a sporty car's volumes might be too small to generate enough profits. Second, Kia's global brand image isn't yet stout enough to support a sporty car. He remarked that from a marketing point of view, a new car launch should help enhance a brand image.

That the Kia GT4 Stinger has that sculpted body, which is in “Ignition Yellow”, is reinforced by the combination of a customized chassis and the independent double wishbone suspension. When compared to the Forte sedan, this model has shorter overall length at 169.7 inches and shorter wheelbase as well of 103.1 inches. However against the Cadenza, Kia’s latest offering is wider at 74.4 inches.

The sweeping roofline reveals a height measured to be 49.2 inches, lower by 9 inches versus the Rio subcompact. Weighing at 2,874 pounds, the GT4 Stinger comes with an almost perfect weight distribution, specifically 52% on the front with the remaining 48% put at the rear section. This new model is able to deliver uncompromised control and direct feedback mainly due to a quick-ratio steering rack.

Looking below the hood of this Kia’s newest wedge model is the direct injected (T-GDI) turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine. One difference is that the engine has been tuned for this new model allowing it to deliver 315 hp, a truly impressive figure. Competing on the new engine, Kearns said that this is the same engine that Optima race cars are equipped with and can in fact deliver at least 400 hp.

Kearns added that the brand looked into the possibility of putting this amount of power in the concept car with the goal of making people take notice. Channeling all of this power to the ground through the rear wheels is the manual six-speed close-ratio transmission. The rear wheels have been wrapped in the Pirelli P-Zero performance tires sized 275/35R-20. The front though has the Pirelli P-Zeros tires sized 235/35R-20, ensuring that it can deliver a large amount of corner-carving grip.

For the wheels themselves, they have a center-lock feature measuring 20 inches and composed of aluminum. By having carbon fiber inserts, it lowers the weight while ensuring strength. Within these large wheels are the Brembo Gran Turismo cross-drilled 15-inch two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers, delivering exceptional stopping power.

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Topics: kia, roadster

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