Since making its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Kia GT Concept has been largely kept under the covers by the Korean automaker. After three years, we finally heard in October 2014 that Kia’s actually planning to build a production model based on the GT. Well, here’s more good news. Motoring Australia is now reporting that development of the production GT is progressing to the point that it could be launched by 2018.

Kia Vice President of Overseas Marketing Soon-Nam Lee told the Australian auto site that positive feedback from auto scribes has given Kia the validation it needs to turn the concept over to its research and development department and see what it can do with a planned production version.

Lee pointed out that Kia has big plans for the GT Concept, especially in the U.S., where the Korean automaker is looking to consolidate its luxury image. To do that, Lee said it’s incumbent upon Kia’s R&D team to develop a production model that will have, among other things, a more powerful engine than the 3.3-liter, V-6 engine fitted into the concept.

It’s interesting that Lee would say that since the V-6 already packs 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. But in order to compete in the premium luxury sedan segment currently inhabited by the Audi A7, the Porsche Panamera, and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, Kia needs to bump up the GT’s performance numbers. A previous report hinted that the GT could use the company’s 5.0-liter, ‘Tau’ V-8 engine, but there’s sentiment within Kia to develop the GT with a different architecture with the K900, hence the idea to steer clear from the admittedly aging Tau V-8.

It’s still anyone’s guess what kind of engine Kia’s R&D department will use on the production GT, but if we’re guessing on one, we wouldn’t rule out a bigger V-6 than the one the concept had.

Click past the jump to read more about the Kia GT Concept

Why it matters

A 2018 launch may sound like a long time from now, but Kia is being smart and patient about its intentions for the production GT. It’s clear that the Korean automaker has big plans for the GT, so rushing its development now probably isn’t a good idea. Instead, Kia’s adopting a long-term approach with its plan to consolidate its luxury image in the US and having a thoroughly planned-out GT in its lineup is a great way to accomplish that.

Right now, the K900 and the Kia Cadenza can still carry the luxury flag for Kia, but there will come a time when having just two luxury models becomes troubling, especially when these two models are slotted so far apart from each other without a mid-level model to bridge the gap.

That’s where the Kia GT will come in. Even if its debut is still a long time from now, you can expect Kia to cover all of its bases with the car’s development in preparation for the time when it can launch it to compete against other fastbacks like the Audi A7 and the Porsche Panamera.

Kia GT

2011 Kia GT Concept Exterior
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When the Kia GT Concept was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, a lot of skeptics believed that the concept wouldn’t amount to anything more than just a showpiece prototype. For a while, that seemed to be the case. But now, a production version of the GT is almost certainly going to happen down the road.

It’s hard to make out how much of the concept will be translated into the production model. What seems safe to assume is that the front-hinged doors on the front and the rear-hinged doors on the rear are going to be eliminated. The interior is probably getting a drastic and more practical makeover, too, as will the low-slung front air intake, the jet-themed rearview cameras, and the propeller-style alloy and carbon-fiber wheels. But other than that, the design of the production GT is fair game for Kia’s R&D team.

Another interesting aspect about the GT’s development is the kind of engine Kia will use on the production version. It’s worth repeating that the GT Concept did have a 3.3-liter, V-6 engine that produced 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque that mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Source: Motoring

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