Kia GT Concept
13th September, 2011
Powerful, dynamic and forward-looking, Kia’s new
concept car signals the company’s distinctive new design direction. This four-door sports sedan
with a rear-wheel drive lay out – a Kia first – combines sleek and 'muscular' proportions with a
sophisticated and elegant four-seater cockpit.
Although work on the Kia GT concept first started in November 2010, the idea of a powerful
rear-wheel drive Kia saloon had been percolating in the minds of Kia’s European designers for some
time. “This concept allows us to explore exciting new design directions, as using a rear-drive
lay out creates very different proportions compared to a front-wheel drive car,” says Peter
Schreyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer. ”The classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive lay out of a
performance saloon has distinct appeal not just for the domestic Korean audience, but also for the
European and American markets.”
“At the onset of this project,” adds Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s European Design Chief,
“the design team was inspired by the spirit of iconic 1970s GT cars: sumptuous and elegant
vehicles capable of whisking passengers from Paris to the South of France in effortless style and
at high speed. We wanted to create something similarly graceful, athletic and confident, but not
aggressive or overbearing.”
This focus of dynamism and pace is sharpened by the car’s aeronautical theme, headlined by the
multi-piece propeller-style alloy and carbon-fibre wheels, the jet-themed rear-view cameras, the
low-slung front air intake, the aerodynamically efficient rear diffuser and the winglets that curve
in from the front flanks and flow into the headlamps.
This particular design motif draws inspiration from the seminal Kia Kee concept car, shown at
the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007. Indeed, the Kia name has a strong design lineage, with a number
of central design elements that link it to last year’s Pop concept and the Kee, ensuring a high
degree of visual continuity despite their divergent styles and themes.
Chrysler 300C SRT8
Suzuki Kizashi Sport AWD
Mercedes-Benz SL 600
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
One of Schreyer and Guillaume’s key goals was to ensure that the car’s proportions couldn’t be
mistaken for anything other than a rear-wheel drive performance saloon. Hence the extended bonnet
with the front wheels pushed right to the very front of the car, the cab-rearward stance, powerful
rear 'shoulders' and truncated rear end.
The Kia GT’s silhouette accelerates away from the A-pillar towards the rear of the car, and this
impression of athleticism is enhanced by the copper signature line that runs from the base of the
A-pillar and along the roofline to end ahead of the base of the rear windscreen. And in a neat
touch, the tick-shaped motif recalls the front quarter-light windows of the rakish GT cars that
inspired the Kia design team.
The inspiration for the use of copper came after a visit by Kia’s colour and trim team to the
DMY International Design Festival Berlin – Germany’s key event for contemporary and conceptual
design – where this warm tactile metal was one of the stand-out materials of the show. The
material’s warmth is balanced by the coolness of the Kia GT’s pale grey paintwork, with its mica
flakes, that subtly captures nuances of light.
There’s a tangible sense of strength and coherence to the Kia GT’s flowing lines – from every
angle it brims with intent and purpose, a vital element of Schreyer’s approach to design. This
impression of solidity is further reinforced by the way the roofline extends past the C-pillar to
meet the rear screen, hunkering the car closer to the ground.
This powerful confidence is balanced by a raft of eye-catching details. The brake callipers are
finished in copper, providing a neat visual link with the car’s signature line. The contours of the
castellated top of the windscreen flow into the roof, itself subtly bubbled to provide further
headroom for driver and front passenger. And the bonnet features a discreet power bulge and air
intake, hinting at the car’s performance potential.
Both Schreyer and Guillaume are particularly passionate about the Kia GT’s lights. The
alloy-framed central grille is flanked by complex headlamp units that each house a bank of six
deeply recessed LED illuminators, to provide a highly distinctive nocturnal signature. The advanced
construction of the headlamps is mirrored by the single sweeping wing-shaped tail light that flows
around the car’s flanks and incorporates two sets of three upright stanchions.
The front doors and rear-hinged rear doors open outward at a slight upward angle, imbuing the
car with what Schreyer describes as an air of grace and confidence. Despite its low stance, fast
roofline and shallow glasshouse, the Kia GT’s clean and uncluttered cabin architecture has provided
a spacious and airy interior with generous accommodation for the driver and three passengers.
The single-piece seats float on arched supports, further accentuating the cabin’s spacious
dimensions. The Kia design team deliberately chose to emphasise the proportions of the transmission
tunnel to reinforce the power and performance of the saloon, but then balanced this muscularity by
moving away from a button-laden centre console and making a strongly driver-centric lay out.
The glass instrument panel – similar to that first seen on last year’s Pop concept car –
features three layers of organic LEDs. These not only give it a three-dimensional depth but also
allow a wealth of information to be displayed at the driver’s command, freeing up the centre
console from the usual proliferation of controls, buttons and displays. Fingertip controls mounted
on the small, dished, three-spoke steering wheel allow the driver to select the desired data
This sophisticated instrument panel floats above the centre console, further enhancing the
cabin’s sense of space. The large red starter button and twist-and-go transmission selector are
combined in a single compact unit, further freeing up space on the central transmission tunnel.
Playback from the cigar-shaped rear-view cameras is displayed on a pair of compact and thin LED
screens mounted on the doors – perfectly positioned in the driver’s line of sight.
The warm shades of copper used along the top of the 'glasshouse' provide a visual link with the
buffed surface of the metallic-treated leather used throughout the cabin, and this russet cabin hue
is enriched by the golden tint of the glasshouse.
The idea behind this leather surface treatment is simple – the areas with which the driver and
passengers come into regular contact become buffed and smooth, providing a warm and welcoming
patina to the cabin.
Schreyer believes this concept is less about design specifics and more about a general feeling
of stance, proportion and balance – elements that will influence and guide his design team’s
approach to their next project.
“One of the great things about working on this project was that this is a very real car,”
says Schreyer. “It felt good to be working on a car that could roll down the road tomorrow. Yes,
it would be a dream to put this into production – it has a logical lay out, with four seats, and
good luggage space, and it’s also engaging and dynamic and makes a strong statement. It’s exactly
the kind of car Kia should be making.”
Kia GT Concept – key dimensions
Length 4,690 mm
Width 1,890 mm
Height 1,380 mm
Wheelbase 2,860 mm