Sporty 2017 Kia GT four-door snapped for the first time

17 May, 2016 3:00pm Steve Fowler

Kia's range-topping sports saloon is seen out and about in disguise before it arrives in showrooms next year

Kia is readying a sportier and more desirable 'GT' saloon for 2017, and our spy photographers have caught it on the road for the first time.

Although covered in a thick layer of cladding, we can see that this new saloon has a sleeker shape than the brand's Optima. A long bonnet, coupe-like roofline, muscular shoulderline and quad tailpipes hint at the Audi A5 Sportback rival Kia hopes to create.

The four-door was first previewed by the GT concept displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, and Kia insiders have hinted that the production car will look very similar. When it arrives in showrooms it will have a sleek version of Kia’s tiger grille, with slim LED lights either side. 

Our illustration shows four cubed LED driving lights set into the bumper, similar to the newly launched Sportage SUV, although we understand prototypes of the new GT have been built with and without this feature. Some of the concept’s wilder design treatments, like the radical rear-hinged back doors and tiny wing mirrors, are toned down for production as we can see.

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Under the skin is likely to be a rear-drive chassis borrowed from sister brand Hyundai’s luxury arm Genesis, while engines will also come from within the family. 

With the car aimed at China and the US, Kia’s 272bhp 3.3-litre V6 and 415bhp 5.0-litre V8 petrol engines are possible choices, although the 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel is more likely in Europe along with the more powerful four-cylinder turbo petrols from the Sportage, and a possible plug-in hybrid option. 

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The GT is set to debut in 2017, possibly at the Detroit Motor Show, and go on sale later that year. However, before then a GT version of the new Optima will make it into showrooms. The new car has already been spotted being tested at the Nürburgring race track in Germany. Ex-BMW M boss Albert Biermann is in charge of the project and is fine-tuning the chassis and engine as he splits his time between Germany and Korea.

Under the bonnet of the Optima GT is likely to be a new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with around 250bhp, providing a benchmark for a new Ford Mondeo ST that has recently been rumoured. Once the GT and Optima GT have joined the Cee’d GT, it’s likely that Kia will give other models the GT treatment, from the next Rio to the brand’s SUVs, including the new Sportage and next year’s new Nissan Juke-rivalling supermini-SUV.

What do you think of the design? Let us know in the comments!