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Kia GT shown to internal focus group

Grand concept: The Kia GT will be pitched as a luxury cruiser, rather than a bruiser, when it finally makes it into production.

After a five-year gestation, production beckons for rear-drive Kia GT sports sedan


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15 Jul 2015

KIA’S long-awaited GT sports sedan has been shown in near-production prototype form to a group of international Kia staffers, indicating it is one step closer to reality.

However, Kia’s other potential excitement machine, the smaller GT4 Stinger 2+2 sports coupe, is still “very far down the track” and will more than likely be re-worked to reappear in another concept guise at a future motor show to further gauge public reaction.

Of the two concepts, the rear-wheel-drive GT sedan has been floating around the longest, dating from the 2011 Frankfurt motor show after work started on it behind closed doors in 2010. The Stinger concept is a mere 18 months old, but, as GoAuto reported from the New York motor show in April, it is possibly still years away from a showroom release.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) media and corporate communications manager Kevin Hepworth revealed this week that he and media manager colleagues from other branches of Kia around the world had been shown a potential production version of the GT to get their feedback on its market potential.

“It was a focus group,” he said. “They pulled all their media guys in and said ‘what do you think of this’.

“And the feedback was this, this and this, and so they (the designers) have gone away and taken some of it on board.”

Cautioning that the GT production car had not yet been signed off by Kia chiefs, Mr Hepworth said GT’s original raunchy design had been toned down to suit the reality of production, including international crash safety regulations.

However, he said the version he had seen had retained its sporty coupe-style silhouette.

The four-door, rear-wheel-drive lift-back halo car has been given development priority over the Stinger because of its greater market potential in major markets such as North America.

And because Kia Motors America has a keen interest in the vehicle, a motor show debut in that neck of the woods – perhaps in Los Angeles in November or Detroit in January – could provide the global launching pad for the final design.

If it were to be made in right-hand drive and thus available to Australia, the GT would become the flagship, in the absence of the K9 luxury sedan (also called variously K900 and Quoris in some markets).

Inspired by 1970s European GT cars, the Kia GT is expected to be a grand tourer in the original sense – a luxury cruising car – rather than an overtly powerful muscle car to compete with the likes of the BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG bahn burners.

It is unclear if the pillarless cabin, rear-hinged ‘suicide’ back doors and four-seat layout of the concept will remain, but it will probably sit on the Hyundai Genesis platform, possibly with a choice of Lambda V6 or Tau V8 engines.

The concept allegedly was fitted with a 290kW 3.3-litre turbo V6.

Mr Hepworth said that although he had no knowledge of Kia’s plans for a production version of the Stinger – a small coupe to rival the likes of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ – he would not be surprised if the designers turned out another version in concept form.

“I think the Stinger will go to another level,” he said. “This is the way they do things. If they produce something that gets some interest, they produce another one that is a step further down the track towards production.

“I think that the next time they show that car we will get a much better idea of where they are going with that car.”

In contrast with the GT, the Stinger is designed as an overtly sporty vehicle, as evidenced by the concept’s 294kW 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine based on the production engine from the Optima.

If it goes into production, Stinger will likely be built on a lightweight rear-drive architecture, perhaps shared with another brand.

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