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by Brett Davis

Kia has announced it is thinking of producing an all-new two-door sporty convertible to take on the popular Mazda MX-5. The model hopes to develop a fresh, youthful personality to the brand.

Kia is currently going through plans to expand and separate itself from sibling company, Hyundai, and is thinking of way which could help it do this. Paul Philpott, European CEO of Kia, recently spoke about future plans, saying,

“There’s a big programme going on right now: How do we best differentiate Hyundai and Kia? In the past, we have been too close together, but if Kia is fun, dynamic and more youthful, Hyundai is more about style and comfort: more upmarket. VW manages brands more effectively than most. If you think Hyundai is more like VW, Kia is more like SEAT.”

One potential way to help the company expand, Kia says, could be to produce a small, two-door convertible sports car, targeted specifically at the Mazda MX-5 and its market. Mr Philpott added,

“I’d like to have a Kia MX-5. 2011 and 2012 are about establishing the brand. But for 2013 and 2014, we’re thinking about halo models that stretch the company forward.”

Kia chief designer, Peter Schreyer, has also recently commented on the potential of such a vehicle, saying,

“The brand deserves a sporty car, like a roadster”.

Although no specific information or design details have been revealed yet, a Kia convertible is expected to take on Kia’s current design language with the tiger nose grille and sharp, sword-like angles like the Kia Kee Concept car we saw in 2008 (pictured). However, additional design elements are likely to be created solely for the new sports car, differentiating it from the rest of Kia’s showroom lineup.

As mentioned, such a car isn’t likely to exist until at least 2013. We will keep you updated though.

  • Baddass

    I hope they take it seriously and not create a semi-soft convertible for the poser crowd. Many have tried to create a proper MX-5 rival, many have failed.

  • wagon

    The problem with KIA designs is that they age so quickly.. I remember how awesome the OPTIMA looked back in December last year when I saw it. But now it has grown on the tooth..

    The current Camry with the LED at the back has aged gracefully. Btw KIA needs to improve ride quality, smoothness and refinement if they wanna compete with Toyota.

    • Martin

      They don’t want to compete with Toyota, buddy, they are competing with them and doing a pretty fine job.

      The Camry’s back doesn’t look bad but the front is kind of ugly with this latest face lift, to me. The interior design is a bit bland, the hand brake is on the wrong side (I mean come on, even a 6 year old Cerato has the handbrake on the correct side), it only has 117kw.

      Not bashing the Camry, but it is pretty outdated now in 2011. The Optima is a better car.

      • Devil’s Advocate

        Speaking of the handbrake positioning there are some interesting schools of thought there. Before I start the “Australian designed” RHD VN-VS Commodore had the handbrake on the left side of the centre console and I never heard anyone say it was on the “wrong side”!

        With the “must have” cup holders/storage bins etc in the centre consoles these days maybe some manufacturers may have had a re-think of centre console ergonomics/design. With most cars being automatic now the handbrake is only really used twice during a journey, ie when you are ready to move off and when you finally park at the end. On the other hand how many people drive with their mobile phone or a travel mug of coffee etc in their centre cupholder etc? Let me guess, most people on average would use that area more than the handbrake over a journey. Other than a design like the VE Commodore, most times that said lever is between you and that area and may sometimes “get in your way” causing you to spill hot coffee over your lap etc. (this is said TIC as I don’t condone drinking hot coffee etc whilst driving) Maybe some manufacturers may be using that as a reason why it is where it is?

        Whilst the Camry example may be just a hang over from LHD (which I doubt as IIRC the US Camry has their “much loved” foot operated “park” brake) there are some manufacturers that put the handbrake lever on the opposite side of the centre console to the driver on purpose. An example, the current model Mazda6 and Mazda3 have the lever on the left side of RHD cars, but they also have the lever on the right hand side of LHD cars, so they are putting it there on purpose on the other side of the lidded cupholder and not because they are lazy in the swap from LHD to RHD or vice versa. These manufacturers spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours on ergonomics so you would think there is a reason why they did that.

        I am not saying either way is right or wrong, but if that is one of the main bugbears people have with a car and they can’t handle it, then they shouldn’t really be driving in the first place. Like most things, it would only take a few days to get used to then you wouldn’t even notice…

        • Andrew M

          I dont know that the handbrake is much of an obstruction reaching for cup holder items especially when they fold down when you are driving.

          On the flip side items in the cup holder become an obstruction to operating the handbrake when its on the other side of the console.

          Maybe if its an obstruction issue they should put them on the RHS like in the 3 seater Falcon utes??

          Yes im sure one wouldnt notice after a while of driving it for a while, but my preference on ergonomics is closer is better. The further you reach away from your body the more strain.

          In the case of the Mazda 3, the console isnt as wide and back towards the drivers seat more.
          The Camry example is a more definate reach across

          • Devil’s Advocate

            Or they could be like some of the euro cars where you just push a button! As I said, I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way, it just depends on the car! :-)

        • depot

          Very good post Devil’s Advocate.

          I work in Automotive Industry, specifically Interior design.
          And you are not wrong.

          Hand brake is chassis/drive train part, but I can speak for the Cup-Holder and Center Console portion. Design these days follow trends, location for cell phones, drinks, iPods etc are taken very seriously. A Hand brake especially for AT cars are rarely used. MT cars in the other hand tend to have the Hand brake as close to the driver, if not on the center of the console (behind the cup/coin holders) these days. Its not a fluke, but the results of studies. Yes people got paid to research what people want, isnt that a shock.

    • david

      Jesus your are strange..a camry looking gracefull? lmao umm no

  • “james”

    isn’t the designer of KIA the dude from audi? i don’t think the optima has aged at all, it’s a very current style. Camry “aged gracefully? i think most people would agree the camry was never a nice car neither inside nor out. i drive a camry for work and the plastics quality is on par with my 11 year old accent..and thats not a good thing for the camry

    • Sumpguard

      The Optima is and will be stunning for a long time to come. I am yet to recall a high impact model that hasn’t aged well. EVER. Infact very few cars have managed to impact on me the way the Optima has. The ones that have are all way north of $100,000 like the Aston Marton Vantage for example.

      The Optima won’t date quickly. I’ve looked at the one in our local showroom 100’s of times already (I walk past it four times a night) and it is still a stunning car. The only thing I can use to make comparison to Camry is the fact that if it had a camry badge on the bootlid they’d be selling thousands of them every month (supply permitting). It still amazes me that a company as big as toyota can’t style cars.

      Kia are on the way up.

      • Don Quay

        I hope you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you compared the Optima to an Aston Martin Vantage. I will grant you that the Optima is not as tacky and overstyled like the i45, but really you couldn’t call it stunning. Pleasant and inoffensive yes, timeless and stunning always, certainly not. What are you doing lurking around the local Kia dealer everynight anyway? That comment reminds of that strange character that used to infest this blog whose most recent alias was to call himself Jabba. You don’t know him do you?

        • Martin

          Why not compare them in terms of style? Because of the badge status? So what? People like Sumpguard can clearly appreciate a design without brand status weighing into it and I happen to be the same. In terms of exterior styling, I too think the Optima is stunning.

          • Don Quay

            Who said anything about badges and brand status? You’re reading things into my comment that I plainly did not say. My point is that the Aston Martin is a truly stunning piece of styling, like they all are. However, I will say that the various AMs are a bit too similar and it can be difficult to tell one model from another if you are a casual observer.

            The Optima is pleasant, modern and inoffensive and I certainly can appreciate the progress they are making in design and it is far, far better than the awful i45 and ix35 though. They make you look twice because they are so horrid. But the Kia doesn’t have the gobsmacking, stop you in your tracks, turn around and go back and have another look at it effect that the Aston Martin does.

        • hyundaikia

          “I hope you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you compared the Optima to an Aston Martin Vantage.”

          are you serious? you’re just saying that because it’s an aston martin, get of your high donkey,

          if the aston martin vantage had a hyundai badge on it, you’d be screaming how ugly it is.

          now that we all know.

          FYI i think the optima and i45 looks way sexier than the AM vantage,

          one thing is, this kia on this page is uglier than the AM vantage…

          • Don Quay

            “Get of your high donkey”???? What on earth does that mean?

            If you think a medium sized four door sedan with not unpleasant styling such as an Optima and a hideous overstyled mish-mash of curves and creases like the i45 are sexier looking than the Aston Martin, good luck in trying to convince everyone else mate. You come across as fanboy and a blind zealot.
            If the AM had a Hyundai badge on it, I wouldn’t say ugly it was, I would probably think how derivative of Hyundai and why did they not do something more original. But a reasonable person would acknowledge that on their current form, they are not capable of such elegance and subtlety. Then you have to consider the fundamental difference betwen a sedan and a sports coupe. Different functions and so different forms.
            PS try proof reading before you hit the submit button. Half of what you are saying is incomprehensible and the other half is wrong.

        • hyundaikia


          edit: “Get off your high donkey (slash, get off your high horse, english much? donkey dash don quay, period.)”

          thanks for the given-luck, wasn’t and aint tryin to con-vince anybody at all. ’cause maaate, looks are subjective: heard of the three-A framework?: artist-artwork-audience? probably not.

          you and your “RE: design; consider the fund-a-mental difference between a sedan and a sports coupe”
          we’re just judgin looks mate. just looks. either hot or ugly. im sure you compare fat chicks to skinny ones, not sure why you draw the line on just comparing fat ones to fat ones?

          “good luck in trying to convince everyone else mate. You come across as fanboy and a blind zealot.”
          ~fan boy you are. now that’s irony.

          i say the optima is sexier than the AM vantage,
          you say the AM vantage is sexier than the optima,
          end of story.

          • Don Quay

            Thank you clarifying my previous comment about the incomprehensibility of your ravings HK. You demonstrated my point very well with your follow up rants.

            PS Some correct use of punctuation from you would be a good idea too.

    • Lukaas

      Entry base Camry has cheap interior.
      Company fleet cars tend to be the cheapest models, unless you’re in management.

      But I agree, the Camry interior could of been better. But its not that the Camry has “cheap” interior… its just that the competition upped the ante.

  • Shak

    Lets hope that KIA can succeed with bringing a true MX-5 competitor to market, because we all know that many have tried, and many have failed. Make it light, give it reasonable amounts of power, make it RWD preferably(AWD if you must). and make it cheap. Even though the MX-5 is a brilliantly balanced car, it is not a cheap car by any means.

    • http://MARTIN BP legacy 3.0RB

      I bet Kia will fail for my 2 Korean won.
      They have no history of sports car.
      It might be cheap and good looking, but that’s all.

      • hyundaikia

        they have no history, that’s why they’re trying?

        just like BMW’s/AUDI’s reliability is on the bottom of the list while Hyundai ranks 10th, and 3rd (without the $ brands), ie. BMW/AUDI is trying with reliability just like KIA is trying with this MX5 thing

  • Don Quay

    I don’t know how an article on small sports car evolved into a discussion on handbrake placement, but there you go.
    Back on topic, Kia could surely make a small affordable sports car if they chose, but their problems in doing so would be that they don’t have a rwd chassis and they do not have the capability to make a car ride, steer and handle to the sublime level that Mazda have achieved for more than 20 years. Many have tried in that time and no-one has succeeded.

    • hyundaikia

      KIA can, they just don’t.

      just like ferrari can make a $10k car for us.

      kia would prefer to offer the best price for a car, than, the best car for a price.

      • Don Quay

        Well, let me guess who you favour with a tag like that! Actually hyundai/kia can’t make an MX5 competitor for the reasons I’ve outlined above. No rwd chassis in their range (don’t try and tell me they would use the Genesis platform) and they don’t have the level of chassis tuning expertise. It took the Japanese a long time and H/K are nowhere near it yet, regardless of what the fanboyz and some of the contributors here think.

        Now mentioning Ferrari in the same breath as Kia is just as irrelevant as comparing them to Aston Martin. Ferrari could make a $10K car, if they want to put their badge on a Fiat Panda and paint it red. Just like AM did with the Toyota Aygo and it would be just as silly too.

        • No Name

          “No rwd chassis in their range (don’t try and tell me they would use the Genesis platform)”

          That’s exactly it. Kia will be using a shortened wheelbase of the Genesis Coupe. A perfect foundation for RWD. Before the Genesis Coupe came out, people had doubts that Hyundai could create a RWD sports car and now you are doubting about Kia? If this is a halo car for the company, Kia would benchmark the MX5 and “attempt” to make it better just like how Hyundai benchmarked the G37.

          • Don Quay

            I see, so you know all about their future product and engineering planning do you?
            I would think that the Genesis platform would be too long, wide and heavy for a small sports coupe like an MX5. Also the Genesis would be getting on 10 years old by then too, hardly cutting edge. Mazda use a unique platform, not much in common with the RX8.

        • Don Quay

          i feel sorry for you

          • Don Quay

            Moderators, this troll is impersonating me again. Please ban him. I did not write this comment.

  • andronicus

    Sharpen up the Kia Koup a bit, lop the top off, drop a decent engine in it and refine(change) the gearbox and away we goooooooo…….

    but for the love of God….please give the Koup more grunt, it is an absolute wasted opportunity given its current option.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Then it wouldn’t be a “true” competitor to the MX5 as it would still be FWD and a “sedan/hatch” based chassis.

    • toxic_horse

      Agreed, I saw one with some nice grey wheels and pointed it out to my GF . she didn’t belive it was a KIA. even when i showed her the badge she didn’t believe it.

  • Mark

    Handbrakes, Camrys, Aston Martins… We’re a bit off topic.

    I can’t see Kia horning in on the MX-5 market especially once the FT-86 hits our shores especially if they go FWD. There is nothing wrong with Korean car makers getting into the sports car market, from all reports Hyundia V8 RWD setup overseas is a cracker.

  • Benza

    Why couldn’t the Lexus IS-F be only $60k ? I want LEXUS but cannot afford it, which is ironic considering it’s meant to be cheaper then the euro cars.

  • kg

    Good to see that Nissan Micra green is getting common.

  • Octavian

    I don’t think it will drive quite like the MX-5 though.

  • Martin

    I hope they do. If it was done right and genuinely rivalled the MX-5 for handling and such, it could really give Kia another brand image boost on top of the classy new styling. Being Kia it won’t cost quite as much as an MX-5 either, which means only good things for the consumer.

    If they are going to do it. They should do it right. Otherwise not at all, I think.

  • adam smolkowicz

    Long live the Mx5

  • Jay

    Even if its FWD it wont be a problem. Remember how good the M100 Elan was? Funny Kia also ended up buying that design.