Kia design chief wants rear wheel drive roadster
A Mazda MX-5 rivalling Kia roadster seems like it may soon get the nod - and the Korean marque's design chief Peter Schreyer is pretty clear on what it should be like.
The former Audi designer was responsible for the dramatic new Sportage and has been steadily radically revamping the Kia brand.
At an event with a handful of editors from the UK's leading top car magazines, Schreyer revealed that if Kia built a roadster he is adamant it would have to be rear wheel drive.
"That would be a must," he said. "It would also have to have a canvas roof. For me, a roadster doesn't have a folding metal roof that whizzes around your head. It has to be canvas."
In a private chat later in the evening, Schreyer told Autoblog that he did think Kia would need to make other steps before any roadster would become reality though.
"The GT needs to be built first, I think," he explained. The GT was Schreyer's Frankfurt concept which boasts rear wheel drive and would be aimed at rivalling the Volkswagen Passat CC and to a lesser extent, the Mercedes CLS.
He added: "There is definitely a market for that car. In Korea it would work and I am sure it would in other markets too. Design is now very important to Kia and it is something we have drastically improved – cars like the GT show that.
"By putting the GT into production we would show we're serious and cars like the roadster could then follow it."
Schreyer also spoke about the brand's model naming strategy. Despite dramatic revamps of the range, the maker has stuck with old names like Picanto, Rio and Sportage when moving to, say, numerical naming may have helped move the brand on further.
"I like the name Picanto and Sportage," he said. "Some of them work. We did look at it. But what's really in a name? When you look at new ones all the good cities have been taken so it gets very hard to find one.
"There is an argument to move to K1, K2 and K3 and so on – with names like this you can't get angry or rude about them. But my view is that we should combine some existing model names with some that have gone before it."
It's clear that Schreyer is a very talented designer. When the other journalists had gone I asked him to show me how he started penning the Sportage and he grabbed my notebook and sketched the pictures you see here.
His enthusiasm for driving Kia forward is clear too – but I wondered, would he ever consider his job at Kia done?
"Never," he said. "My goal is not to have a goal. I want to keep evolving Kia. When you have an end target it's hard to keep being creative. That's why I don't set myself one."
We're certainly looking forward to seeing the fruits of his labour.