Kia has a younger and more flexible brand image than Hyundai and therefore doesn’t need a separate performance division, according to the chief vehicle tester and high-performance head of both companies, Albert Biermann.
Ruling out a Hyundai N-style sub-brand for Kia, 30-year BMW veteran Biermann said the ambitious Korean marque “can stretch much more than the Hyundai brand”, seemingly differentiating the latter as a more conservative unit.
“I think Kia is more young and if you look at the slogan, ‘the power to surprise’, why making some sub-label? Kia is good for everything. We don’t need a sub label for Kia,” he said.
Talk of a dedicated Kia performance brand such as the BMW M Division (in which Biermann was an executive) was prompted by the rollout of Hyundai N, which has a large test centre based at Germany’s iconic Nurburgring.
The reveal of the 270kW/510Nm Stinger GT this week also prompted talk of a range of even hotter Kia-badged cars. The answer is the establishment of the Kia GT moniker, such as the Pro_Cee’d GT, and potential future cars such as the Soul GT or even Rio GT.
“Kia has GT and I think that works nicely… GT-line for the trim and GT for the more substantial character driving,” Biermann said.
Biermann was also asked if the Stinger had good foundations early in development prior to his appointment to run Kia and Hyundai N’s testing at the end of 2014.
“The platform, the substance, was very good already,” he answered. “We did changes to elastokinematics, steering, stuff like this, but in general not a major change was necessary,” he claimed.
The final point of discussion centred around Kia Australia’s local suspension tuning arm, which has played a role in changing perceptions of the cars in our market.
Biermann said he was more than happy for the team, led by Graeme Gambold, to continue their work, though said there would be limits. If a Kia GT of some sort hotter than a Stinger — maybe a production version of the GT4 Stinger coupe concept (above) — emerges, it’ll likely be developed in Europe and Europe alone.
“As long as you don’t have a Nurburgring in Australia, it’s not going to happen… this is my philosophy, a high-performance car needs to be done on the Nurburgring like the N Cars.”
That’s that, then.