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Designs on premium: Kia president Peter Schreyer says Kia is “a little bit” premium.

Cadenza takes Kia further up-market, but it is left-hand drive only for now

24 Mar 2016


KIA Motors could soon be rubbing shoulders with high-end competitors, with the company’s chief saying some of the company’s latest products nudge premium territory.

The South Korean car-maker lifted the covers from its second-generation Cadenza mid-size offering at the New York motor show overnight, with the mid-size luxury contender moving further upscale when compared with the model it replaces.

The Cadenza previews Kia’s future design direction for sedans and features luxuries that elevate the new model above the car it replaces.

When asked if he believes that some of the brand’s mainstream models will push into premium territory in the coming years, Kia Motors president Peter Schreyer said they would “a little bit”, adding that the feel and quality of materials can help lift a model beyond mainstream status.

“I think to be able to kind of be ahead of the competition, I think it is important to have really good quality, perceived quality, which means a little more premium in it,” he told GoAuto.

“Because it is not only the price point but it is also when you buy a car you want to be rewarded, want to be proud of it, want to enjoy nice materials and good quality I think that’s very important.”

It is unlikely, however, that Kia will move too far into the premium space, given its parent, Hyundai Motor Company, has just launched its new Genesis sub-brand that will be rolled out in Australia later in the year.

Asked if he sees a day 15 or 20 years in the future when Kia will have dropped its mainstream roots and become a premium brand, Mr Schreyer said the brand already had moved slightly beyond mainstream.

“I hope we are not totally mainstream now,” he said. “I hope we keep our approach (which) is to try to be a bit ahead of the competition.”

While the luxury appointments in the Cadenza set a new benchmark for the brand, at least in the United States, the big sedan is unlikely to make to Australia, with Mr Schreyer saying he does not know of any plans for the model to be produced in right-hand-drive.

Meanwhile, the long-mooted Kia sportscar looks no closer to a production reality, with Mr Schreyer highlighting sporty variants in the Kia line-up when asked about a road-ready performance hero.

“I think with the GT line that we have in Europe, we are making more cars with good performance,” he said. “So the whole brand is moving towards more sporty.

“I think with some showcars we have had in the past, for example the GT – the four-door coupe sports saloon – we are heading in a very sporty direction with the rear-wheel-drive layout.

“And this company already shows where we are heading as well.”

When pressed on the chances of a sportscar, Mr Schreyer said: “Not in the near future.”

Another rumoured Kia model that is unlikely to see the light of day any time soon is a Kia pick-up, with Mr Schreyer pointing out that a decision would first need to be made on the style of pick-up and how it would be different from other offerings.

“I think it depends on the type of pick-up we would do. Something like this could be made in a way that it fits with the brand but maybe if we would do it, it should be something that really stands out a bit from the rest of what there is and not just make another pick-up, this is how I would approach such a project.

“This is how I try to approach every project basically but at the moment it is not in discussion.”

Rumours of a Kia utility picked up pace early last year Hyundai’s Santa Cruz concept was revealed at the Detroit motor show, with some reports suggesting that Kia could share the underpinnings with its sister brand.

However, as reported by GoAuto earlier this month, a decision on the version of pick-up – a US-style pickup, an Australian and South-East Asian-focused one-tonner or a car-like option similar to the Santa Cruz – Hyundai would pursue was still yet to be locked in.

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