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Slowly but surely Kia is transforming itself from a provider of inexpensive transportation appliances to a purveyor of premium automobiles. Further pushing the brand up-market, reports indicate the South Korean firm will build a production version of its dramatic GT concept.
Last week at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Kia unveiled its new Cee’d and Pro_cee’d GT models, showing its focus on sportier, performance-focused models. That appears to just be the beginning, as the Korean automaker looks to bring new coupe models to market based on its GT and Provo concepts.
Kia has been talking about a rear-wheel drive luxury sedan for a while, and now we’ve got the pictures to prove that they’re serious.
Seen here is the Kia K9 undergoing some winter testing in northern Sweden. We can already see some cues from the Kia GT concept, like the full LED headlights.
The K9 is based on the rear-drive platform from the Hyundai Genesis. That said, engine options could include the brand’s direct-injection 3.8-liter V6 making anywhere from 333 hp to 350 hp. Plus you have to think a V8 will be available, such as the 385 hp 4.6-liter Hyundai unit, or the 429 hp 5.0-liter version. Perhaps most exciting is the possibility of a turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 making 390 hp – as seen in the Kia GT Concept.
As for transmission choices, look for either the 8-speed unit recently introduced in the Genesis lineup, or a possible 10 speed automatic that’s currently in development.
Expect the K9 to arrive later this year as a 2013 model year car and to be aimed squarely at German luxury brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
GALLERY: Kia K9
With the companies current shift towards inspired design, Kia motors will produce the GT concept which was first shown at the Frankfurt auto show in 2011. The GT’s slick design is clearly aimed at competing with European luxury brands such as Audi.
Kia is saying that the introduction of the GT will not be a one off model but will be followed possibly by a two-door coupe and even a station wagon thus adding a new family of vehicles to the already growing brands ranks. The GT shown at the Frankfurt show was presented with a 390 horsepower turbocharged V6 which seems like part of the ploy to convert a few Audi and BMW owners over to the Korean brand. Kia wants to present the GT as a cheaper alternative to those interested in buying a luxury car at a cheaper than luxury price.
Peter Schreyer, Chief designer for Kia has even hinted that he would like to design a budget sports car for the brand that would compete with the Mazda MX-5. Although the general direction of the company as of late would suggest that this could be a reality, there is nothing concrete to say that it is.
Kia‘s heart-stoppingly cool GT concept was was powered by a 3.3L turbo V6 packing 400 horsepower – but the production version might not get such an exotic powertrain.
Speaking with Auto Express, Kia styling boss Peter Schreyer said that “I think done in the right way, with a smaller engine or hybrid technology, it would work,” he said. “It would still be fast, but return good fuel economy, too.”
Screyer said that the GT is aiming for the German coupe set, which we can assume as being the BMW 3-Series and Audi A5. Schreyer also described the GT as Kia’s “halo car”.
It began as an idea back in 2010 when Peter Scheyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer and European Styling Chief Gregory Guillame, looked to building a concept in the spirit of the great European luxury Gran Turismos from the 1960s and early ’70s.
“This concept allows us to explore exciting new design directions, as using a rear-drive layout creates very different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car,” said Schreyer, who also added that the classic, front engined, rear-drive sports sedan has unique appeal, not for just a Korean audience, but Europeans and Americans as well.
A key directive during the concept’s development was that the car be unmistakable for anything but a classic, front engined, rear-drive GT. Aeronautical themes are also popular as was the use of copper on components such as the brake discs and greenhouse trim; in the latter’s case running all the way from the front A-pillars to the edge of the back light.
Inside, a spacious cabin sports several ‘floating’ features including the seats, which incorporate a ‘buffed’ leather surface to aid driver and passenger comfort, while a trio of LED layers for the instrument panel results in a 3 D effect, that helps free up the center console from the usual secondary control clutter.
Powered by a 395 horsepower 3.3-liter Lambda direct-injection gas engine coupled with an eight speed automatic, Schreyer believes that as well as being a serious performance piece, the GT concept is less about design specifics and more about a general feeling of stance, proportion and balance – elements that will influence and guide his design team’s approach to their next project.
“One of the great things about working on this project was that this is a very real car,” he said. “It felt good to be working on a car that could roll down the road tomorrow. It would be a dream to put this into production – not only does it have a logical layout, with four seats, and good luggage space; it’s also engaging and dynamic and makes a strong statement. It’s exactly the kind of car Kia should be making.”
GALLERY: Kia GT Concept
Watch video of the Kia GT Concept from its Frankfurt reveal after the jump:
Rumored to be called “Veredus”, leaked photos of Kia‘s new rear-wheel drive performance sedan have emerged revealing that it will instead wear the simple “GT” badge – in concept form anyway.
The next step in the design evolution of the Kia brand, the GT is bold look for a bold vehicle that will take the Korean automaker into a segment it has never before occupied. No details about the car’s powertrain have yet to be revealed, but expect to see a large V8 engine under the hood – perhaps the 429-hp 5.0-liter V8 from the new Hyundai Genesis R-Spec.
Look for full details with AutoGuide’s Frankfurt Auto Show coverage starting Tuesday, September 13th.
GALLERY: Kia GT Concept
[Source: Car & Driver]