Kia has more fast cars in the works thanks to former BMW M boss

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Kia has more fast cars in the works thanks to former BMW M boss

15 September 2015 by Richard Blackburn ยท CarsGuide

Stand by for a new wave of performance-oriented Kias as the former head of engineering for BMW's famed M division makes his mark on the brand.

Albert Bierman, who joined the Hyundai-Kia motor group in December last year, says it's time to add the X factor to the company's range.

He says performance will become one of the key pillars of the Kia brand.

"It started with product value, then we had long term quality and durability, then the design became stronger and stronger and now we are adding the performance and the driving fun to it, with GT line and GTs," he says.

But while sister company Hyundai goes down the hardcore performance route with its rally program and new N division range of track-focused cars, Kia will concentrate on cars that are fun to drive but affordable.

The company will leave hardcore performance to its sister brand

The company will focus primarily on performance versions of its existing range, rather than high-end, powerful cars.

That will involve performance focused cars like the Proceed GT, with its 150kW turbo engine, and GT line cars, which will have standard engines, but sporty cues and suspension tunes.

The company's head of product planning, David Labrosse, says the company will leave hardcore performance to its sister brand.

"When you look at something with super high performance it is quite limited in terms of volume potential.

"We want our cars to be fun to drive, with good performance but it should also be affordable so we are not using as many dedicated parts as our colleagues at Hyundai," he says.

He says the company is also not looking to build focused sports cars like the Toyota 86.

"For Kia it is more the Golf GTI area," he says.

Bierman says there are no immediate plans to follow the Hyundai lead and develop a performance sub-brand for Kia.

"It is not planned at this point. Maybe that can change but I have no idea when," he says.

The company is very serious about a rear-drive sports car

The focus on affordable performance doesn't rule out a rear-drive, four-door GT sports car that Kia has hinted at in recent months. A show car was unveiled at Frankfurt in 2011, powered by a turbocharged V6, and Kia executives have let it slip that the car is still on the drawing board for the brand.

Labrosse says there are no immediate plans.

"Our group is capable of making a front-engined rear-wheel-drive... It could be a good idea for Kia but right now there is nothing to discuss about this," he says.

He says the company is internally discussing the possibility of spinning something off the K9 full-size luxury sedan that is sold in Korea and the US.

Kia's chief designer in Europe, Gregory Guillaume, says the company is very serious about a rear-drive sports car.

"We do feel that this type of a car is a very important milestone in the development of the brand as a whole."

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