We don't normally cover Japanese imports at www.eurotuner.com but Kia has been proving that you don't need dull design to sell cars.
Last week we showed you a sketch of its new GT concept car and now we have final renderings to show you. With its appealing retro styling, the car is said signals the company's new design direction. The four-door sedan has a rear-wheel drive layout for the first time in the company's history.
Although work on the Kia GT concept started in November 2010, the idea of a powerful RWD Kia sedan had been percolating in the minds of Kia's European designers for some time. "This concept allows us to explore exciting new design directions, as using a rear-drive layout creates very different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car," said Peter Schreyer at Kia. "The classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout of a performance sedan has distinct appeal not just for the domestic Korean audience, but also for the European and American markets."
Gregory Guillaume, Kia's European Design Chief, added: "The design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and at high speed. We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing."
This focus is sharpened by the car's aeronautical theme, headlined by the multi-piece propeller-style wheels made from aluminum and carbon-fiber. It also has jet-themed rear-view cameras, a low-slung front air intake, rear diffuser as well as winglets that curve in from the front flanks into the headlamps.
One of the key goals was to ensure the car's proportions couldn't be mistaken for anything other than a RWD performance sedan. Hence the extended hood with the front wheels pushed to the front of the car, the cab-rearward stance, powerful rear shoulders and truncated rear-end.
The Kia GT's silhouette accelerates away from the A-pillar towards the rear of the car, and this impression of athleticism is enhanced by the copper signature line that runs from the base of the A-pillar and along the roofline to end ahead of the base of the rear windscreen.
The inspiration for the use of copper came after a visit by Kia's color and trim team to the DMY International Design Festival Berlin - Germany's key event for contemporary and conceptual design - where the metal was one of the stand-out materials of the show. The material's warmth is balanced by the coolness of the Kia GT's pale grey mica paintwork.
Furthermore, the brake calipers are finished in copper, creating a visual link to the signature line.
The alloy-framed central grille is flanked by complex headlamps that house a bank of six recessed LEDs to create a distinctive lighting signature. The advanced construction is mirrored by the wing-shaped tail light that flows around the car's flanks and incorporates two sets of three upright stanchions.
The front doors and rear-hinged rear doors open outward and upward, imbuing the car with an air of grace and confidence. Despite its low stance, fast roofline and shallow glasshouse, the Kia GT's clean and uncluttered cabin has created a spacious and airy interior with generous accommodation.
The single-piece seats float on arched supports, further accentuating the cabin's spaciousness. The Kia design team deliberately chose to emphasize the proportions of the transmission tunnel to reinforce the power and performance of the sedan, but then balanced this muscularity by moving away from a button-laden centre console and creating a driver-centric layout.
The glass instrument panel features three layers of organic LEDs. These not only give it depth but also allow a wealth of information to be displayed, freeing the console from the usual proliferation of controls, buttons and displays. Fingertip controls mounted on the small, three-spoke steering wheel allow the driver to select the desired data display.
This sophisticated instrument panel floats above the muscular console, further enhancing the cabin's sense of space. The large red starter button and twist-and-go transmission selector are combined in a single compact unit, further freeing space on the transmission tunnel.
Playback from the cigar-shaped rear-view cameras is displayed on a pair of compact LED screens mounted on the doors.
The warm shades of copper used along the top of the glasshouse create a visual link with the buffed surface of the metallic-treated leather used throughout the cabin, and this russet cabin hue is enriched by the golden tint of the glasshouse. The idea behind this leather surface treatment is simple - areas the driver and passengers come into contact with become buffed and smooth, creating a warm and welcoming patina to the cabin.
"One of the great things about working on this project was that this is a very real car," said Schreyer. "It felt good to be working on a car that could roll down the road tomorrow. Yes, it would be a dream to put this into production - it has a logical layout with four seats and good luggage space, and it's also engaging and dynamic and makes a strong statement. It's exactly the kind of car Kia should be making."