Kia plans first sports sedan as it seeks younger, more hip image

Fresh off Kia Motors’ production line, the K7 unveiled in Seoul January 26, 2016, may yet not quite be hip enough for the younger market that the South Korean builder is seeking to capture. — Reuters file pic
Fresh off Kia Motors’ production line, the K7 unveiled in Seoul January 26, 2016, may yet not quite be hip enough for the younger market that the South Korean builder is seeking to capture. — Reuters file pic

SEOUL, Feb 3 — Kia Motors plans to start production of its first sports sedan in May 2017, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, seeking to burnish a sporty, younger image as larger sibling Hyundai Motor builds up its premium offerings.

Kia plans annual production of 60,000 for the sedan, codenamed CK, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter, declining to be identified as the plans have not been made official.

The four-door model aims to take on BMW’s 4 series as well as the Audi A5, and will feature 2.0-litre, 2.2-litre and 3.0-litre engine options, one person said, adding that it will be Kia’s second rear-wheel-drive car.

Once known for cheap and bland models, both Hyundai and Kia are keen to move upmarket as their cars gain traction with consumers but differentiating their brands has been and will continue to prove a challenge.

Hyundai, which owns 34 per cent of Kia, launched standalone luxury brand Genesis last year making it difficult for Kia to compete in that segment, particularly as its lone luxury offering, the K900, has been met with a tepid response from consumers.

“As Kia has no luxury brand, it is trying to position itself as a sporty brand,” said a third person with knowledge of the planned new model.

A Kia spokesman declined to comment, saying the company did not comment on plans for new models.

The new car, smaller than Hyundai’s mid-sized Genesis Coupe, would be the first compact sports sedan from either firm. — Reuters

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