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Kia: Sports car will come, but not just yet

Paul Philpott, Kia Europe's chief operating officer
Kia Europe’s chief operating officer Paul Philpott has confirmed his desire to see a two-seater sports car in the maker’s line-up – and says it’s a case of not if we’ll see one, but when.However, he has refused to give a timescale on when the car will arrive in showrooms.
“Until we’ve baked our cake there is no point putting icing on it,” he said in an interview with us at the Geneva Motor Show.

“We’re in process of baking our cake now with all the products we have in volume segments. When that cake is strong enough we’ll put the icing on it. That will come, but it’s just a case of when it is right for the brand.

“It’s something I’d love to have in the range. But I won’t be drawn on when though. From 2010 to 2013 we have to get a strong presence in the A, B, C, D and MPV sectors – that is where the volume is. Sports cars won’t change volume or profitability.”

Philpott said that a sports car could only be introduced when the brand is well-established and the manufacturer’s focus at the moment is on ensuring volumes are increased.

“Some sort of sports car in our range is critical,” he added. “Whether that is a roadster or the Track’ster concept, who knows. But it does have to be a niche product that has global appeal.” Philpott said Kia needs to “walk before it can run” and that means making a success of core cars like the new Kia Cee’d, which was unveiled at the show.

“Cee’d is critical to us,” he said. “It has been our best selling car since it was launched in 2007, so for the last five years it has been our top-selling car.”

The new Cee’d debuts a dramatic design and is unique in that it is the first of the new Peter Schreyer models to be refreshed. Philpott said the manufacturer had worked hard to improve refinement, interior quality and driveability.

He added: “The evolution of the Cee’d is important. Old Rio to new Rio was a quantum shift, as was Sportage. The changes to these cars were dramatic. But with Cee’d we already have a strong customer base, so dealers have to concentrate on the evolutionary improvements. The design is a good step forward. It is more premium and aspirational and it puts us among mainstream competitors.”

Philpott also revealed the Kia Sedona will be killed off when the replacement for the Carens MPV arrives next year. He explained that the large MPV market is in decline with Renault’s decision to axe the Espace proof of that.

“The market is declining for large MPVs with the exception of Ford and their S-Max,” he said.

“The replacement for the Carens will be about maximising space inside but it won’t be big on the outside.” However, Philpott wouldn’t say whether the new model would retain the Carens name or not.

Kia Cee'd