The Chief Operating Officer from Kia’s US arm has reportedly revealed that the Korean carmaker is seriously considering at least two new models for its growing line-up.
While the new Niro and Optima models - with hybrid power as the major focus - took centre stage at the Chicago Auto Show, Kia US COO, Michael Sprague, was equally-interested in a pair of future offerings.
The first is Kia’s rumoured rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, while the second is the Kia Telluride SUV (pictured, top of page), which was unveiled as a concept at the Detroit Auto Show.
“Last week somebody in Korea said that, yes, there’s a rear-wheel-drive vehicle coming next year - someone close to the situation,” Sprague said, speaking with Car And Driver.
“We read the same [article]. We were like, ‘All right! Cool!’. It would be great for the brand - the Soul has really been a halo for the brand in terms of that fun, funky coolness. The K900 has pushed us into the luxury space and serves as a halo in that space. It would be great to have a sport sedan to really connect with the enthusiasts.”
As previously reported, the basis for a future performance sedan could come from Kia’s Novo concept (below), which would point to a new model sitting in the ‘upper’ small to midsized class.
The brief for the new model would reportedly see it become a more-affordable rival to the likes of BMW’s 3 Series, but directly targeting BMW customers would be difficult without the brand cachet.
But as Toyota’s 86 has shown, there’s a sizable market of buyers looking for affordable RWD sports models with a choice of automatic and manual transmissions.
“If you look at the history of the brand, we use auto shows to introduce concept vehicles,” Sprague said. “We introduced a Soul concept and it came to market. We introduced the Niro concept and it came to market in a fashion very close to this.”
“Our history is to introduce these concepts, gauge consumer and media feedback, and if it’s strong, let’s bring it to market. A couple years ago, we showed a rear-wheel-drive sports concept [the GT4 Stinger]. You may be able to link these two together.”
Mr Sprague said falling fuel prices could be the launch-pad to see a version of the Telluride given the green light for production, as buyers once again look to larger SUVs (particularly in the US).
Sprague said the Telluride could be aimed at customers looking for more space than that offered by the current Sorento, along with greater towing ability.