In the past few years this idea has been brought up quite a few times, but at the 2013 New York Auto Show Tom Kearns, the head of Kia’s California design studio, stated emphatically that he feels the company should develop a sports car. His dream sports car would offer a rear-wheel-drive configuration and would be a similar style as the Toyota GT86 and FR-S.
He would like to see it offered in both coupe and convertible, with both versions having their own advantages: a convertible is fun to drive, while a coupe with an affordable price can prove very popular in the U.S. market.
In true Kia fashion, they would also try to keep the model very affordable in an attempt to attract younger buyers.
Will it ever happen, not likely, but Kia’s done it before…
Hit the jump to read more about the first rumors on a possible sports car and Kia’s sports car past
The first rumors on a possible Kia sports coupe surfaced back in 2010 when Peter Schreyer, Kia’s design head, confirmed that a new coupe will arrive "sooner or later" as a new halo model for the company. As Schreyer was the man whom designed the high successful Audi TT we were pretty sure that the new Kia sports car will be a real success.
Still, the years went by and Kia brought no new sports car. At least not until September 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show when Kia unveiled the GT sports car . We are not too sure if the GT will be put into production at some point, but it has been rumored many times that it will inspire future Kia models. In fact, back in March, Benny Oeyen, Kia’s boss of Europe, once again confirmed that the GT will inspire a new sports car that will be "a little less pure than the Toyota GT86, more of a comfortable cruiser."
We cannot be sure if Oeyen and Kearns are talking about the same sports car, but it surely looks that way. The only difference is that one is reporting the model will be built on the same idea as the GT86, one says it will be better than the GT86. One thing is for sure though: a rear-wheel-drive coupe will indeed arrive in the near future.
Kia’s Sports Car History
Believe it or not, Kia actually did have a sports car at one time. Back when GM bought out Lotus, their new poppa wanted to see a Lotus that was more affordable. With that came the resurrection of the Lotus Elan – M100 Elan, to be more specific. This little eco-Lotus used a heavily modified Isuzu – yes, ISUZU!! – 1,588 cc engine that was available with or without a turbocharger.
The turbocharged engine pumped out 162 horsepower, which was pretty stout for the era, and the naturally aspirated model hit 130 horsepower. This engine delivered power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. This combo sprinted the new M100 Elan to 60 mph in a relatively impressive 6.5 seconds.
Well, after all of the crazy testing that Lotus put the M100 through, it finally launched in 1989 alongside the worst possible rival: the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Needless to say, the cheaper and sportier Miata throttled the Elan and it only saw a total of 3,855 units built (559 went to the U.S.) through 1992. When GM had enough with Lotus, it sold the company to Bugatti and the French builder scrapped the M100 Elan altogether.
The Elan made a brief 800-unit comeback between 1994 and 1995. This Series 2 Elan handled better than the discontinued model, but it only had 155 ponies and took 7.5 seconds to get to 60 mph.
So how does that tie into Kia? Well, Kia saw an opportunity and bought all of the relevant licensing to build the Elan. This led to the monster that was the for-Korea-only Kia Elan… It looked almost identical to the Lotus model, save for the revised taillights and it hosted a 1.8-liter engine that could only muster up 151 horsepower. Kia’s rendition of the Elan lasted from 1996 through 1999.