Kia GT Concept

17 Aug, 2012 10:00am Jack Rix

Luxury new Kia will take on the Mercedes CLS, with sleek looks inspired by the GT Concept

Kia is considering a new car to rival the Mercedes CLS, Auto Express has learned. The four-door coupe would be the company’s boldest model yet, and sit somewhere between the BMW 5 and 7 Series in terms of size, marking a significant move upmarket for the manufacturer.

Peter Schreyer, who became Kia’s design chief in 2006, has made no secret of the fact that he wants a halo model for the brand. It’s now clear that he has in mind a CLS rival, hinted at by the GT Concept.

This model debuted at 2011’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and at the time Schreyer told us: “Every company needs a halo car. The coupe market is dominated by German brands, and the GT is Kia’s first step – it’s like putting a foot in the door of the club. This car is aimed at a niche that Kia could fill. It could find a lot of customers.”

Although not all of the GT’s dramatic design cues will make production, this car is intended to put Kia firmly on the design map. So we should expect it to use a dramatic interpretation of Schreyer’s familiar ‘tiger-nose’ grille, plus toned-down versions of the blade-like front air vents. The full-width rear lights and huge turbine alloys will need to be modified for the road, but the GT’s sweeping roofline and low-slung stance will be retained.

The concept was powered by a storming 390bhp 3.3-litre turbocharged V6, but a more modest engine range is being lined up for the production model. A selection of fuel-efficient four-cylinder petrol and diesel turbos, as well as a petrol-electric hybrid model, will give the car broad appeal across all Kia’s major markets – a key factor to its success.

To ensure that the driving experience lives up to the sporty looks, the newcomer will use a rear-wheel-drive transmission. That means it’s likely to share its platform with sister company Hyundai’s Genesis saloon – a luxury model that’s not currently sold in Europe.

An inside source told us: “We’ll have to wait until at least 2016 before the four-door coupé arrives, but when it does it will mark Kia out as a genuine cut-price rival to the German premium brands, and be the crowning glory of Schreyer’s revamped line-up.”