Advertisement

"We're rearranging what Kia is for buyers in Europe"

Mike Rutherford chats with Albert Biermann, the man behind some legendary BMW M cars - who's now turning his talents to Kias product range

Kia requests my presence at a muggy, remote, high-security test track in East Asia. And it warns it had a confession or two to make. After a 19-hour door-to-door schlep (plus the return leg the following day), I tell myself this had better be bloody good.

And it is. The company concedes the Kia product range is being propped up by only three pillars: good value, great warranties and ever-improving vehicle designs. But it knows it needs a fourth. And it proves to me the process is already under way.

Advertisement - Article continues below

'Our next pillar - and we see it as a strong one - will be driving performance to match the appearance of our cars,' says Albert Biermann, the latest highly respected, German product guru to defect to Kia.

New Kia GT saloon promises BMW-style dynamics

Uncle Albert is one of the world's top tuners. He was Mr 'M' at BMW. For three decades he occupied senior engineering roles in Munich, but he's glad to be out.

'The spirit and culture has changed. In the eighties and nineties BMW was motivated by engineering. Now it's more financially driven. So many employees are discussing financial situations,' Biermann insists.

Kia Pro_cee'd GT front action

For this driving/engineering obsessive, countless meetings and arguments about corporate and departmental fiscal matters were 'impossible, crazy.' Instead of developing, road testing and fine-tuning products, he says 'I spent most of my time worrying about money. There were endless discussions going nowhere.'

Advertisement - Article continues below

Things couldn't be more different at Kia where Uncle Albert was recruited by multi-billionaire Eui-sun Chung, 45, who's about to be promoted to chairman of the Kia empire. Biermann is a realist. He's not trying to (and can't, even if he wanted to) transform Kia into a BMW. 'But I am of much more benefit here than there,' he says. 'In terms of driving character, Kias will find their own identity and spirit. We're clarifying and rearranging what Kia is for buyers in Europe.'

Best BMW M cars

So, what is Uncle Albert's definition of the 'good-handling' Kias he craves? 'They need to be precise, forgiving, balanced, not too annoying and have a clear mission statement. We're spicing things up.'

And I have every confidence he will deliver these driver's cars. After all, his new employer has vowed to sell 100,000 cars a year to Brit buyers by 2020. And that should put Kia in the same sales league as BMW in the UK. The German firm won't be happy. Uncle Albert will be delirious.

Do you think Kia should be concentrating on driving dynamics? Let us know in the comments below...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/news/351989/its-car-care-week-so-head-outside-and-show-your-motor-little-love
News

‘It’s Car Care Week, so head outside and show your motor a little love’

If you can’t drive your car, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks you should wash it instead. When you're done, send us a pic and we’ll print the best
1 Apr 2020
Visit/news/351950/global-temporary-shutdown-car-factories-could-actually-benefit-manufacturers-and
News

'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020
Visit/news/351936/jlrs-very-british-approach-keep-calm-and-carry
News

‘JLR’s very British approach: keep calm and carry on’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler praises Jaguar Land Rover on both its ability to handle a crisis
26 Mar 2020
Visit/opinion/351904/car-exhibitions-are-going-through-most-dramatic-period-change-generation
News

'Car exhibitions are going through the most dramatic period of change in a generation'

With the changing car market, the government's petrol & diesel ban plus the unprecedented Coronavirus, the car exhibition industry is going through a …
22 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Visit/seat/leon/351998/new-seat-leon-2020-review
SEAT Leon

New SEAT Leon 2020 review

The all-new SEAT Leon hatchback impresses with its blend of sporty handling and cutting-edge technology
3 Apr 2020
Visit/hyundai/i20/100001/new-hyundai-i20-n-hot-hatchback
Hyundai i20

New 2021 Hyundai i20 N to rival Ford Fiesta ST with 200bhp

New Hyundai i20 N to join i30 N in brand’s hot hatch line-up and our exclusive images preview how it could look
2 Apr 2020
Visit/news/102580/hyundai-kona-electric-get-increased-range-july
Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020