In the game of word association, “Kia” and “sports car” are almost never linked. The Korean brand is primarily known for its economy and family vehicles, but that may change before the end of the decade.
According to a report by Autocar, Kia will introduce a new sports car by 2020, and it will take major design and engineering cues from the automaker’s GT4 Stinger (pictured) and GT concepts. Paul Philpott, President and CEO of Kia Motors U.K. and Ireland, confirmed the news.
Some outlets are claiming that the brand’s “affordable” performance car will be its first, but Kia actually bought the rights to the M100-Series Lotus Elan back in the mid-1990s. From 1996 to 1999, you could purchase a two-seater convertible Kia Elan, complete with a lightweight fiberglass body and some of the best front-wheel drive handling ever offered. Imagine that.
Still, the new vehicle will likely be the manufacturer’s most high-profile vehicle in some time. A sports car will accent the brand’s significant recent improvements in quality, design, and engineering, pushing the company forward and improving its global image.
The GT4 Stinger concept was unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, and it wowed the crowd with its broadly futuristic look, glaring “Ignition Yellow” paint, and impressive performance stats. A lightweight coupe akin to the Toyota GT86, the rear-wheel drive Stinger equipped a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 315 horsepower. The GT, on the other hand, featured familial styling but was packaged as a luxurious grand tourer. Also rear-wheel drive, the GT featured a 3.3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 390 hp.
Philpott also confirmed that a new B-segment crossover will arrive by the end of 2017. Designed to lock horns with the likes of the Nissan Juke, the vehicle could draw influence from Kia’s 2013 Provo concept.