By on August 4, 2016

2016 Kia Optima SX

Kia plans to let its sister division handle the sensible grocery getters and track-ready racers (assuming Hyundai’s N-Division bears fruit), while it churns out hotter “normal” cars.

According to the automaker’s performance development chief, Kia plans to offer a global GT line of its most popular vehicles, boosting the models’ performance and appearance, Autocar reports.

Albert Biermann made the comments at the opening of the automaker’s new Korean test track. The company’s horribly named ProCeed GT hot hatch has been on sale in Europe for several years, so Kia’s global lineup is due for some excitement, Biermann said.

Expect GT-badged models to appear alongside their vanilla siblings, starting with the Optima GT. Sporting the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as the Optima SX, the GT version adds suspension, steering and tire upgrades. Also on tap: a Rio GT, designed to take on the Ford Fiesta ST. We don’t know yet whether the Rio gets a power boost.

“Kia is meant to be more emotional than Hyundai and we have to make cars that reflect that when you drive them,” Biermann told Autocar. “Hyundai is the quieter brand, that’s why the N-Division was created, because the brand cannot stretch as far. Kia can stretch much further, and I think we will be able to do more aggressive cars.”

Admitting that “GT is not right for all Kia models,” Biermann said he wants a Sportage GT, but hasn’t received approval for a hotter version of the brand’s stalwart crossover.

Improvements to the Optima GT prototype began last summer, after Biermann complained to engineers about its performance.

The report doesn’t say when we can expect GT-branded models on these shores, but it’s clear that Kia’s upcoming premium sedan (which rides on the Genesis G70 platform) will not carry the GT name.

[Image: Kia Motors America]

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23 Comments on “Kia Plans to Tighten up Its Product Line, Offer ‘GT’ Versions...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m a Kia fanboy (two in my driveway), but you shouldn’t sell a “GT” car with the same engine as the plebian model.

    • 0 avatar

      From the start, Kia should set the standard for what GT means, and stick to it across the lineup. I would suggest:
      – larger, alloy wheels
      – upgraded suspension
      – upgraded tires (preferably the same brand across the lineup)
      – upgraded brakes
      – engine upgrade, i.e., turbo version of regular engine
      – sport shifter, and availability of manual transmission
      – leather steering wheel
      – MINOR exterior changes, like red brakes or blackened grill. NO wing

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        It used to be that you could buy an M5, and it would look rather like a bouncer whose muscles were hidden behind a well-tailored suit.

        Those days are over. Subtlety is gone.

        So you can expect to, in addition to all of that, see prominent badging, revised bumpers and side skirts, wild paint colors, fake vents, fake engine noises, and (yes) probably a rear wing on any given product.

        Manual transmission? Lol.

        All in all, it will probably be something like BMW’s cars equipped with the M-Sport package.

        • 0 avatar

          I dream that one day, a more pedestrian mfg, such as Kia, will provide us with cars that have that BMW feel (such as real steering feedback) in an affordable, reliable package.

          That would truly be awesome.

          • 0 avatar

            Joe, wouldn’t Mazdaspeed check all your boxes if they built it? it’s a lot easier for them to juice up the engine than for Kia to solve the mysteries of steering, suspension and materials quality.

    • 0 avatar

      Does Kia even have Optima with manual, before GT?

  • avatar

    They Build Excitement.

    • 0 avatar

      At least an Optima GT will kick a Grand Am GT’s sorry ass.

      I hate that GM didn’t put the Grand Am SC something or other into production with its supercharged 3.4 60V6.

  • avatar

    A Sportage GT would be awesome. I’m going to be in the market for something like a Sportage soon. Well, my wife will. A GT version would work well for both of us, and bring the Sportage even closer to the Macan I cannot afford new, refuse to gamble on used, but still lust over on a daily basis.

    Forte GT hatch would be nice too. Hell the SX is pretty nice. There’s one in my neighborhood that commutes about the same time I do in red. Looks great from all angles. Upgrading the suspension and brakes would be enough to convince me. H/K really needs to solidify their tuning and feel. It’s those details that really turn me off from their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Did you test drive the regular Sportage? The new one actually drives quite well in SX guise; you might be perfectly satisfied with it.

      Another compact crossover that drives especially well (although I can’t say I’m fond of the pre-2017 styling) is the Escape.

      I agree that Hyundai / Kia needs to work on suspension, engine refinement and steering input…as well as preserved fit-and-finish across the first 100K miles or so. But they are so close.

      • 0 avatar

        I haven’t driven it yet. I’m smitten by its looks and size, and the engine seems just right for my wife and I. Plus she doesn’t drive much, and we have a Rabbit 2.5, so it’s less than stellar gas mileage is no issue. Imagine that…. double the horsepower, 500-700lb more weight, worse aerodynamics, same combined gas mileage (and better CITY mileage) on regular fuel. Progress is amazing.

        Escape is a wildcard. Buying used, it will be tricky finding the right engine. Plus I don’t know how awful SYNC2 is, but that would be something to have to find out. Buying new, I’m not sure it’s as good of a value as the Sportage SX in Titanium trim. And I’m definitely more partial to the Sportage’s fake Cayenne looks. If Ford had made the Escape exterior look like the Explorer (which looks like a fake Range Rover even though the Explorer’s debut preceded the new Range) it could be a different story. But it has that generic bionic shopping cart CUV look that is popular in the class.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’m fond of the ’17 refreshed Escape except still too. much. dash.

  • avatar

    No more torsion-beam rear suspensions in North America would be an excellent place to start.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, my Golf SportWagen TDI has a torsion beam because the AdBlue tank takes up too much space for an independent rear suspension. The regular gas-powered Golf TSI and Golf SportWagen TSI, by contrast, do have the IRS.

      But torsion-beams have their place, especially on compact, budget-oriented economy cars. They are cheaper to make and to own, because they don’t need to be adjusted nearly as often as an IRS. They are also less-likely to get torn up on some of our horribly-maintained roads. Besides, most people will not notice. And if you really *do* care, you probably aren’t in the market for anything that has a torsion beam in the first place.

      • 0 avatar

        Torsion-Aire FTW!

      • 0 avatar

        My bad feelings about torsion beam rear suspensions stem from my ownership of a Hyundai Veloster. Turning onto poorly surfaced roads often resulted in highly disconcerting, unexpected rear-end swings/jumps, which I was to understand were the result of their rear suspension set-up. My current drive, a 3rd Gen MINI Cooper, never exhibits this behavior (has a multi-link rear suspension and excellent handling), and always turns predictably and accurately. Huge difference! I’m sure VW’s is better sorted than Hyundai’s, however.

      • 0 avatar

        WHEN you give VW your TDI back, what will you buy next to replace it, Kyree?

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500


    Not to any one here, but to Kia “GT”s.

  • avatar

    Awaiting the turbo Toaster, with MT please.

  • avatar

    Based on the spy shots, would be surprised if the Kia RWD sedan shares underpinnings with the G70 – looks to be closer to the G80 in size.

    Definitely should do a Sportage GT – Kia has had success with their higher SX and SX-L trims and would further differentiate from the Hyundai offering.

  • avatar

    “Sportage GT”

    Jellycat Assassin

  • avatar

    Also a Kia fanbody here based on the past four years of ownership of two cars.

    Definitely would like to see this happen.

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