Why a Kia will be the “hit” of this year's Frankfurt auto show
If you’ve been following the teasers, leaks and previews of the auto show season’s kick-off event planned for Frankfurt next week, you know there’ll be a fleet of new and exciting concepts and coming-to-a-showroom-near-you production cars ready to be unveiled.
Frankfurt only happens every other year, toggling back and forth with Paris as the big Euro fall event. That, and recognizing their home field advantage, the Germans usually own this show. And this year will be no different. The all-encompassing Volkswagen Group and its plethora of brands, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will have a staggering array of vehicles to unleash. Heck, even General Motors’ Opel saves its best and brightest ideas and most important production car debuts for Frankfurt. Yet, based on some newly-leaked images, I’m predicting Kia’s GT concept will be the hit of this year's Frankfurt media days.
By now, you know the story about how the Korean brand hired former VW/Audi designer Peter Schreyer a few years back, to give its cars a more international flair. So far, Pete’s done some exemplary work. Not only are current Kias like the Soul, Sportage, Forte, and Optima clean-cut designs that look good on the streets of Seoul and San Francisco, they also offer a completely different design language from the Hyundai vehicles Kias shares their mechanical bits with. Not an easy job (see Ford vs. Lincoln).
But as Schreyer told me last year in Seoul, the design language at BMW and Audi are always an ongoing development, and he wants Kia’s styling to have the same legs. “We are already working on cars for the next generation. It always goes on and on . . ."
Hence the stunning GT concept that will show up in Frankfurt next week.
Apparently based on the same rear-wheel-drive Hyundai-Kia Motors platform that underpins the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, the Kia concept isn’t a direct precursor towards a particular future production car. Instead, its overall theme, and especially the cleaner lines of its interior (right), gives clues to what the next round of Kias will look like. More important to car zealots, the GT suggests the design language for a planned-for small coupe to take on the Toyota FT-86 and a sedan larger than the current midsize Optima. Sweet, no?
From a broader perspective, the Kia GT shows what kind of design chutzpah Schreyer is bringing to the table. Kia's so-called mainstream branding and pricing strategies doesn't seem to be stopping him from blessing his cars with premium or exotic styling. Compared to the conservative steps its Japanese rivals are taking (i.e. 2013 Lexus GS 350, right), you can see why new car buyers are getting into Kias based on looks alone.
What do yout think of the Ka GT?
Does the concept elevate your thoughts on what a Kia stands for?
Or are a vehicle's looks alone not enough to sway your new car purchase decision?