Kia will dabble in performance-minded models in order to strengthen its brand image.
Kia CEO Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee has confirmed that the company is readying a performance-oriented hot hatch that will target the iconic Volkswagen GTI.
Based on the pro_cee'd that bowed in Paris last September, the car is called HPV internally but it will likely be christened pro_cee'd GT when it hits European showrooms next year.
The GT will be powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is already found under the hood of several Kia and Hyundai products, including the acclaimed Veloster Turbo. The mill will send 200 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque to the front set of wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic unit.
Designer Peter Schreyer has reportedly given the GT a specific exterior treatment to make it stand out from the pro_cee'd, though precisely what the modifications will consist of is not currently known.
The pro_cee'd GT will not be only performance-minded member of the Kia lineup. Lee confirmed to England's Autocar that the company is mulling the launch of a large rear-wheel drive sedan similar to the GT concept that bowed in Frankfurt last year. If given the green light for production, the car will be rear-wheel drive and it will serve as Kia's flagship sedan.
"In my opinion, a sports car should be rear-wheel drive," said Lee. We need a certain product to help with our brand image. We have tried a couple of concept cars and found some potential in the GT. We will try a couple more in the future, starting at Geneva next year, and test the media and consumer response before choosing one."
Kia is expected to make a decision on which direction its halo model will take in the very near future.