QOTD: What's Missing From Kia's Portfolio?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd what s missing from kia s portfolio

Corporate cousins Hyundai and Kia are an interesting pair, as neither division seems content to emulate the other. It seems odd at first, given how closely matched both brands are in purpose and reputation, but badge engineering fell out of favor long ago.

These are not the stereotypical twins you can’t tell apart without asking to see a birthmark. Kia fields a large front-drive sedan above the midsize class, and a premium rear-drive sedan above that. Hyundai is content to have its new Genesis brand handle all luxury big car activity. Kia sells a minivan, Hyundai’s short-lived Entourage is a fading memory. Kia offers a funky neo-ute, the Soul, and a dedicated hybrid sort-of crossover, the Niro; Hyundai’s utility stable plays by the rules. The Hyundai Elantra GT hatch, based on the overseas i30, does not have a doppelgänger in the Kia ranks, nor does the Kia Stinger have a double in the Hyundai showroom (that’s Genesis’ responsibility).

As we learned from Kia’s VP of product planning yesterday, there are some things the brand won’t copy from its Hyundai Motor Group companion. Which begs the question: what’s something Kia should be doing, but isn’t?

From a revenue perspective, the obvious answer involves something large and utilitarian. That’s what buyers want these days. Well, Kia seems to have that covered, as the concept Telluride SUV is all but confirmed for production.

A pickup seems like too much of a longshot, as even Nissan and Toyota have trouble breaking into the full-size pickup segment. As for midsizers, the segment’s potential remains an unknown, and the addition of Ford’s returning Ranger would make a Kia truck — even a value-packed one — a tough sell. Let Hyundai chase that dream.

Through the brand’s new design language and the introduction of the Stinger, Kia wants to cultivate a new identity as the sportier brand in the Hyundai Motor Group fold. If it’s sportiness Kia wants, why not offer a small sports car? Why should Mazda have all the low-cost, two-seat fun with its MX-5 Miata? (We’re purposefully omitting the Fiat 124 Spider).

Of course, there’s a problem: where does Kia get its hands on a small, rear-drive platform? Surely, a front-drive roadster or 2+2 coupe wouldn’t hold the same appeal as a rear-drive model, and it couldn’t call itself a true challenger to the Mazda. Also, modern buyers are having a hard time springing for any lower-end sport coupe that doesn’t have the word “Mustang” or “Camaro” stamped on it. Teaming up with another automaker for a one-off model, if the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 partnership tells us anything, probably wouldn’t lead to a raging sales success.

Perhaps Kia’s already doing everything right. If it is, you tell us. If it isn’t, sound off in the comments. What model is sorely lacking in the Kia stable?

[Image: Kia Motors]

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2 of 48 comments
  • Lynchenstein Lynchenstein on Feb 22, 2018

    Gimme a Kia Miata fighter, and a base model that come in colours other than "white, grey, grey, silver, or black". Screw you, Mazda Canada!!!

  • Veeg Veeg on Feb 23, 2018

    I'd focus on the Soul. It sells and is the only car in their lineup with any sort of identity. First I think you do a longer Soul. Don't call it a Soul Wagon but that's what it would be. It also needs to be AWD like yesterday. I think the soul ! with the turbo motor is the Si, make a Soul Type R sort of car, high 200s or low 300s in horsepower, AWD. Undercut the Civic type r. A pickup would be good even if it didn't sell.

  • El scotto Having really bad SATO flashbacks. Someone from Alamo would stop by the SATO office and stuff some display rack with 10$ off at Alamo! coupons. Off on another mission for Truth, Justice, and the American Way of Life! Well OK, I was off to talk to some tech reps. Riding the shuttle bus to Alamo I inwardly prayed please, oh please may there be a Neon and not a damn Sebring! Neons were by and far one of the best cheap rental cars.
  • Inside Looking Out Another reason to switch to Tesla. And do not forget that there are two Fords. Ford Blue will die with UAW and ecoboost and Ford E will live on.
  • The Oracle Here in the mountains of WNC these willbe all over the place.
  • The Oracle A proper clunker from a bygone era.
  • Zerofoo I'm pretty sure driving this thing in any respectable town is considered probable cause.