By on November 29, 2016

2018 Kia GT

A photo of what looks like a pre-production Kia GT was leaked to the interwebs today, revealing the upcoming premium midsize tapped to carry the brand’s performance torch.

Bowing next year as a 2018 model, Kia’s rear-wheel-drive sports sedan faces an uphill battle against a well-established competition, changing consumer preferences, and itself.

It isn’t known if the GT name will carry over to production models, though the model revealed in a photo posted to kia-world.net certainly looks like the GT Concept of 2011. Typical concept car elements like clamshell doors have disappeared, though the model adopts a similar profile, along with tell-tale Kia styling cues.

The GT is expected to borrow the 365 horsepower turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 found in the Genesis G90 and upcoming G80 Sport. Lesser powerplants, including a four-cylinder and possible hybrid, should join it.

Sharing a platform with the upcoming Genesis G70, the GT has a mission: set Kia apart from its Hyundai sister division. Earlier this year, the automaker’s performance development chief laid out how the company planned to build up the identities of its brands. Kia becomes the emotional brand — meaning spirited motoring and edgier styling — while Hyundai becomes the sensible, buttoned-down sibling. Genesis will handle the luxury credentials.

The model is positioned to battle the likes of the BMW 3 and 4 Series, but competition will come from all quarters. It arrives at a worrying time for a premium midsize sedan. With conventional passenger car sales declining, Kia’s recent experience with larger cars — the midsize Cadenza and K900 range-topper — hasn’t paid off in sales. Nor have those models endowed the brand with any newfound reverence, despite positive reviews and awards that nary matter.

It won’t be hard to top the dismal sales of the Cadenza and K900, which appear in the background of photos less frequently than Sasquatch. But maybe that’s not the GT’s purpose.

Volume is everything to an automaker, but image can’t be discounted. Kia wants to be seen as South Korea’s performance brand, meaning it needs a competitive sports sedan to gild the edges of its portfolio. It also needs that model to make enough of a splash — and sell in enough numbers — to be visible to the buying public, even if they’re only interested in an Elantra or Rio. The remaining models will then soak up some of that performance mystique through osmosis.

[Image: kia-world.net]

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65 Comments on “Leaked in Photo, the 2018 Kia GT Sports Sedan Faces a Mountain of Adversity...”


  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Yeah, still don’t want a Kia. Sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “Kia’s recent experience with larger cars — the midsize Cadenza and K900 range-topper — hasn’t paid off in sales”

      yea-a-a-a-a. May be, still don’t want $30K-Kia

  • avatar
    ajla

    Put the V8 in it.

    In fact, supercharge the V8.

    550hp, RWD, V8 Kia for $50K.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Needs an I6!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    BEHOLD the PONT-KIA-IAC!

  • avatar
    threeer

    Looks like a dressed-up Optima…unless I’m missing something.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    So does the Kia get a Genesis engine, or does the Genesis get a Kia engine?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Lol, you guys can’t price this against a 3/4 Series, come on now. You need to offer this for the performance Chevrolet type people.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Pegging this to the Charger is the best way it makes sense. So $27K for the entry V6/I4T, $35K for the V6T, and $41K for the V8 (which they won’t offer).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I agree, it’s Charger-competitive. It would not garner a single BMW loyalist, so they’re wasting their time if they pitch it too high.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          It’s funny, one of my former coworkers was a propellorhead forever, but when his E46 3 series sedan died, what did he buy?

          A Kia Optima. He loved the looks and the deal he got, and he even accepted that it was an automatic because manual shifting was wearing thin on his 50-ish years of age.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I know a lady who bought an Optima as well, after a life of only Pontiacs. Pontiacs were her favorite thing, and she wouldn’t drive anything else. Once the brand died, she switched her G6 (which was a pile of garbage from the get-go) for a Fusion for a while, and now Optima.

            Oh, and she buys her cars new, at whatever the sticker price is on the door, and always opts for the extended warranty on all things from cars to phones and jewelry.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The GT/K8 is midsize RWD, so the counterpart to the G80.

      Thus, pricing against the 3/4 Series (actually lower when taking into account equipment level) is fine as the Genesis sold pretty well (and the GT/K8 has more striking sheetmetal and in all likelihood will have a better interior than the G80).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Genesis was soft and not performance oriented, and sold fine pulling Buick and Avalon customers. This sports Kia is not going to pull any out of a history of Roundels.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Avalon sales are more than double than what it was when the Genesis was launched.

          Meanwhile, GS and M/Q70 sales have floundered.

          The Kia doesn’t have to pull too many BMW buyers, but mostly Lexus, Infiniti and Acura buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Yea, I guess. For people with money, car is a status. They will not buy Kia. So, they park next to their friends and someone asks, “Oh, what you’ve got over there? – that’s a Kia – a Kia? .. [shock]”… and rumor begins.

      And for everyone else there is Civic 1.5L. Sweet

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, if that thin strip of brake lamp continues all the way across and around the other side, it will look sick in person.

    SVX be still me heart.

  • avatar

    If they use Cadillac marketing, and demand price parity with BMW/Benz, no deal, fewer than expected sales, and cash on the hood.

    If someone is paying attention, they’ll price low enough to make it a better choice than the Acura TLX (RWD !) but not ‘the money” for the Roundel, and for god’s sake, more car than a CLA.

    Loaded (fully) Kia should be equal to lease stripper 3 price. More gadgets, more HP, more suspension.

    I’m excited someone is launching a new RWD platform.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Dump the Optima, make this Kia’s only midsize (possibly keep the name, better than “GT”). Work on a smaller version of the RWD platform to replace Forte and Rio. Dump the Cadenza and price the K900 more in line with its brethren (and give it a frickin’ real name). It would still top out way above an Impala or 300, but if a more basic version could produce more volume. Eliminating the Cadenza will help with this.

    One way to stand out from the competition in a contracting (sedan) market, offer something unique, like RWD instead of an admittedly stylish clone of your sister brand’s good-but-not-outstanding FWD offering.

    Kia can still offer the high end versions, just introduce models priced not too much higher than Camccordusionltima. If someone wants a basic FWD car, they can go buy a Hyundai.

    Imagine a turbo, RWD subcompact hatch. Real drivers would pay more for a RWD Rio than they would an Accent. This would give Kia cars genuine sporting attributes, unlike others who stick a body kit on their FWD and call it sporty.

    If I were running Kia, I wouldn’t stop there. I’d replace the Sportage with a BOF SUV (keep the name as it once was BOF), to go up against the Wrangler, including an open bed truck version, with an optional diesel. Sorento gets moved to the RWD car platform (5 and 7 passenger versions), as does Sedona when the current models run their course. Soul remains, with a redesign, FWD with an AWD option.

    These vehicles would not be as profitable as the cloned FWD cars, at least not initially. I believe it would end up resulting in significantly higher transaction prices, and a whole new clientele that isn’t there just because Honda turned down their credit application. This time, its BMW, Jaguar or a Mercedes that was just out of reach, or not equipped as well for the price, that landed them in the Kia showroom looking for a better value.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Um, no.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Initially I agreed with you, but looking at GCBC numbers it looks like Hyundai’s compact/subcompacts outsell their Kia versions 2-5:1. Plus I think Kia’s small cars are primarily subprime/fleet whereas people are actually choosing the Accent/Elantra. Optima has lost a lot more sales than the Sonata and is down to nearly half its volume from 3/4 last year YTD.

        I don’t know about a RWD Rio, but a pair of 3 & 5 series RWD fighters priced like mainstream compacts/midsizers would be an interesting proposition. People pay a premium for Mazdas and Volkswagens; I imagine people would pay a premium for a true bargain basement BMW. Something like a BRZ sedan basically. If anything, it’s the smaller Genesis that is redundant. But on the flip side, more people who want luxury want a comfy high tech thing than a driver’s car. So H/K may be smart to offer both, and leverage the hell out of these platforms.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Optima sales are down, but that’s due to a variety of reasons (not to mention, the Optima has had a higher ATP than the Sonata).

          – one being the general downturn in sedan sales (Sportage sales are way up as Kia has increased supply to the US, so many potential Optima buyers have ended up opting for the Sportage).

          – the current Optima is not the looker that the previous gen was.

          – the delay in the change-over to the new Optima hybrid.

          While hybrid sales are down, the Sonata hybrid is still on pace to sell over 20k for the year. The (old) Optima hybrid is on pace to sell 1/4th that amount when previously, the Optima hybrid was closer in sales to the Sonata hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I wish you were running Kia. Don’t forget to offer a v8 in anything you can shoehorn it into.

      Seriously, one of these small market share players needs to take a gamble and do something different (ahem, Mazda). You can’t poach sales from established brands by doing the same damn thing, except not as well.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    We should get the Pro-Ceed GT here as well. It’s pretty cool.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Car doesn’t look bad from the side. It could have a chance in the market if it drives like a BMW M2 at half to two-thirds the price.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It’s a time of compromise. I am excited about it, and may consider it with the right price and specs.
    But
    Like the IS350 I’m also considering (whatever that means anymore) and the SS I am keeping my eyes on, I have to look past so many aesthetic issues – namely fake vents and hideous grilles.

    If I wanted a bunch of fake openings, I’d get myself some fiberglass fenders with Z3 vents in them or one of those wide-mouth front bumpers that highlight my awesome radiator support and chicken wire selection from Home Depot.
    I’ll be glad when this phase ends.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    For better or worse, I don’t think just putting some fancy vehicles in the lineup will change the brand image any time soon.

    For better or worse, I think of Hyundai as cars for people who want an Asian import, but can’t afford a Toyota/Honda, and Kia for those same people, but with sub-prime credit.

    I’m not saying either of those is necessarily true today, but it’s an artifact of the (successful) efforts to rescue Korean cars from the near-doom Hyundai’s early products nearly inflicted on their chances in the US market.

    Really, is there any history of an auto brand successfully taking themselves upmarket after firmly establishing themselves as a value play?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Eh, the Yaris, Corolla and Camry have among the lowest, if not the lowest ATP within their respective segments.

      And geeze, VW, Toyota, Nissan/Datsun, Honda were all “value plays” at one point.

      Mazda was as well and now their trying to become the new (old) VW (being more of a premium brand).

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      You are right in your analysis – Kia is the new Mitsubishi.

      On another point, those wheels are over the top. Automotive stylists are at the point of “jumping the shark” with oversized, overstyled wheels. Come on, guys, let’s get back to classic, eye-pleasing proportions and rationally sized sidewalls. Going ever more extreme is just plain silly.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      I own a Cadenza; moreover, I actually wanted a Cadenza, after it compared favorably against the Avalon and ES350, and last-gen Lacrosse. And both my credit score and income are high enough that even the sales manager seemed a bit surprised that I was at his dealership to buy a car.

      I guess it’s safe to say I’m not the stereotypical Kia buyer… but how else will the brand change that perception without aiming higher with good product? It’s almost impossible for me to believe the same company that shilled Amantis less than 10 years ago also built my car, which so far has continued to impress me.

      All told, I think Kia (and Hyundai) have a better chance of improving their brand perception over the next decade, than established luxury makes like Lincoln or Cadillac have at reclaiming theirs.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    The roofline screams – duck!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “It won’t be hard to top the dismal sales of the Cadenza and K900, which appear in the background of photos less frequently than Sasquatch.”

    As a Kia partisan, I must admit that’s true – and hilarious.

    Someone crudely scribbled out the face of the driver in that photo, making me think there was a giant spider crawling out of the car.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Looking at GCBC, I’m counting 8 direct competitors (3, C-Class etc) and a handful of tangential ones (TLX, MKZ). That is a tough situation.

    On one hand, with the G80 starting at $41K, this thing has the potential to be an incredible value proposition. A 5 series sized car with RWD and a twin turbo 6 banger probably starting out in the mid 30s? Even with an auto only it’s a hard proposition for an enthusiast to ignore.

    On the other hand, I’m not seeing how Kia can make any money on these at that price point, and there could be some serious cannibalization at the top of the Optima range- especially considering how much this thing looks like one (?). Plus as we all know the luxury market wants crossovers. I wish Kia the best but I hope they have hedged for the worst, because failure looks like a real possibility. The time for new entries in this segment was 10-20 years ago.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    Selling this alongside the Optima will be a challenge. Not sure of the strategy but will be interesting to see them give it a try. A few points that may be relevant:
    1) Funny that the article says the move is to distance Kia from Hyundai even though it’s based on the Genesis which was a Hyundai until a few months ago. To summarize: Hyundai realized that it was hard to sell RWD lux/perf cars alonside Elantras so they spun off Genesis. In other words, they corrected a bad idea. Now, in order to distance themselves from Hyundai, Kia is going to do exactly what Hyundai just stopped doing.
    2) Kia is going RWD drive just as the last remaining mainstream RWD sedans (Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger) are reportedly taking their final bows and certain luxury brands have already transitioned the lower end of their lineups to FWD-based (MB CLA/GLA, BMW X1) with more models and brands certainly to follow.
    3) The only carmaker that is currently offering FWD and RWD based cars of more or less the same size is Lexus with the ES and GS but I think this is only because the ES is such a ho-hum performer but it sells in huge volume and they don’t want to mess with it so the GS is there to give them some performance credibility.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not actually true.

      The Genesis sedan (now G80) was outselling every other midsize, RWD luxury sedan that was not the E Class or 5 Series and in certain months, outsold the 5 Series, albeit, a model that is soon to be replaced (but who would have thunk that the Genesis/G80 would outsell the 5 Series no matter the circumstance?).

      Hyundai always intended to launch a separate luxury brand, but the timing was off (the Great Recession) and they didn’t have enough of a line-up that would warrant supporting a separate dealer network (which is still some years away).

      But now with a planned 6 model lineup, that is enough to be the basis for a separate brand.

      Kia, otoh, doesn’t have the financial resources of Hyundai to develop a 6 model luxury lineup (at least not presently), and instead, will have a more modest 2 luxury sedan lineup with maybe 1 crossover (based on the Cross GT concept)?

      A 2-3 model line-up wouldn’t warrant a separate brand.

      And don’t be surprised if there is a market for a midsize, RWD luxury sedan at FWD luxury sedan prices (certain buyers would take this over, say, the Lexus ES, any day).

      The one thing Kia should do is to use the stylized “K” badge (used in Korea) instead of the KIA badge.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        “The one thing Kia should do is to use the stylized “K” badge (used in Korea) instead of the KIA badge.”

        Amen and hallelujah. One of the first things I did when I bought my Cadenza – yes, I’m one of the few who actually owns one – is swap out the badging. I have no problem at all with telling people I drive a Kia (and with the unfamiliar “K” badges, I get asked often what kind of car it is) but the “KIA” badges are atrocious for at least two reasons, only one of which is aesthetic.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Not quite Japanese quality and no way German status trash, Kia & Hyundai have absolutely no hope with social climbers.

    Good cars overall but just too late to the party on a sinking ship.

  • avatar
    SP

    It might sell, but I would have some issues with buying this.

    First off: It does not look nice to my eyes. The proportions seem a bit off to me. And the details are just not pleasant.

    Second: I doubt that Kia will reach the highest heights of driving engagement and refinement with this vehicle. I don’t think it’s going to compete with BMW, Mazda, etc. Maybe they will prove me wrong, but I am just a little skeptical that they will get there.

    Failing that, they need to fall back on some other attraction. Either make it sort of fast and really cheap, or really fast and sort of cheap. It would basically fill in the niche that Pontiac has vacated. Sort of an Asian Dodge Charger, as other posters have suggested.

    I am not sure who would be interested in the 4-cylinder and hybrid versions. Maybe the 4-cylinder, if it was much lighter and offered handling benefits. But again, it seems unlikely that it will be luring the disaffected E30 and E36 owners away from BMW. So a 4-cylinder or hybrid may just miss the market entirely.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not actually true.

      The Genesis sedan (now G80) was outselling every other midsize, RWD luxury sedan that was not the E Class or 5 Series and in certain months, outsold the 5 Series, albeit, a model that is soon to be replaced (but who would have thunk that the Genesis/G80 would outsell the 5 Series no matter the circumstance?).

      Hyundai always intended to launch a separate luxury brand, but the timing was off (the Great Recession) and they didn’t have enough of a line-up that would warrant supporting a separate dealer network (which is still some years away).

      But now with a planned 6 model lineup, that is enough to be the basis for a separate brand.

      Kia, otoh, doesn’t have the financial resources of Hyundai to develop a 6 model luxury lineup (at least not presently), and instead, will have a more modest 2 luxury sedan lineup with maybe 1 crossover (based on the Cross GT concept)?

      A 2-3 model line-up wouldn’t warrant a separate brand.

      And don’t be surprised if there is a market for a midsize, RWD luxury sedan at FWD luxury sedan prices (certain buyers would take this over, say, the Lexus ES, any day).

      The one thing Kia should do is to use the stylized “K” badge (used in Korea) instead of the KIA badge.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    As someone who was cross-shopping a Jaguar XE against a Corolla, my prayers have been answered!

  • avatar
    redliner

    I’d rather buy a Lincoln MK-sedan-thing, and that’s saying somthing.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Nobody cares about RWD sedans anymore. Everyone who used to drop big bucks on them is now down at the Range Rover or Bentayaga store getting something with a low range in case they have to park on the grass. And you obviously can’t have a sedan if you have kids, because even if the kid is on the small side, you’re helpless against the avalanche of antibacterial wipes and armored carrier/stroller hybrids that are apparently mandatory, unless you want your progeny to grow up dead. I genuinely want Genesis and Kia and Alfa Romeo to succeed here, because they’re making cars that *I* like. But in terms of the overall market, they seem to be awfully proud of that shiny new cordless phone – with a built in answering machine! that they’ve just released.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      People can have other methods of conveyance for a family, usually families who buy new have at least two vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Well, Alfa and Genesis have luxury crossovers on the way and Kia probably has one as well (based on the Cross GT concept).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Lighten up bro. There are currently like 20 RWD sedan offerings for sale in the US, moving at a clip of nearly a million units a year. If nobody cared, everyone would buy a Lexus ES instead of any of their other sedans.

      People still care about driving as well. If they didn’t, Mazda, Porsche and various iconic models (pony cars, Corvette, 911, GTI, FioST etc) would have bit the dust long long ago. Are we as numerous as we used to be? No, but I think we will always be numerous enough to support some selection of enthusiast cars.

      Plus all your bellyaching about strollers and the like…. the overlap between 1 car households and households that can afford a $40-50K car is nonexistent. These will either be cars for single people or a fun family ride/commuter backed up by some kind of belly dragger or minivan. And cars in this class can fit strollers and car seats just fine.

      I salute H/K for trying this. Outside of crossovers there hasn’t been a truly new idea in the car world in a long time.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    I really can’t conceive of people wanting to buy a $55K sedan at a KIA dealership. I just bought a 2016 Hyundai Genesis (last of the Hyundai badged Genesis) and the dealer experience was a real trip. The other customers on the floor were salt of the earth types hoping that their credit was good enough to swing the payments on a base Accent. Personally I would buy a car off the back of a pickup truck if the price was right (and the price WAS right) but I really can’t see the typical $55K car buyer being comfortable rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi and with a sales staff that is geared toward dealing with them. I happened to score the sweetest car salesman ever but at the next desk was Mr. Sleazeball in a toupee selling the key replacement warranty for $1,295 to some poor schnook for whom $1,295 meant 100 hours of work – have you no mercy? As nice as the cars may be (and the Genesis is very nice) it’s a whole different experience than a Lexus dealership and until they get Genesis under its own roof it’s going to be a problem for the brand.

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