Hyundai/Kia Developing Small Rear-Drive Platform, Kia Roadster Coming First
With VW wading into the budget roadster segment with its forthcoming BlueSport mid-engine roadster, it seems that Kia wants in on the action as well. Reports are surfacing in Europe and the US that the Korean automaker is making good on Peter Schreyer’s threats, and is developing its first roadster since it bought up the tooling and IP for Lotus’s front-drive Elan, which it sold in Korea between 1996 and 1999.
According to AutoBild, the new Kia roadster will be even shorter than the old Elan at around 144 inches, and should weigh about the same as the Miata at “just over 1000 kg” (2,204 lbs, or). With rear-drive, a 200 HP turbo engine, dual-clutch as an option and a mandatory cloth soft top, the new roadster is already being referred to as a “halo” by Kia’s US staff, so there’s no reason to suspect that this will be Euro-only forbidden fruit, although it will likely debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2013. In the meantime, Kia will be developing this roadster’s all-new, rear-drive platform jointly with Hyundai, which should likely offer its own iteration about six months after Kia does (a Toyobaru coupe-fighter, perhaps?). With VW, Toyota, Nissan and now Hyundai-Kia getting into the lightweight rear-drive game, it seems we may just be at the dawning of a new age of unprecedented enthusiast options.