Design & Technology / Product

The future of the KOUP April 17th, 2008

By Jay Ryu
Assistant Manager, Overseas Product Marketing Team

We are grateful for how much interest the Kia KOUP generated at the 2008 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).  There have been many inquiries as to the viability of KOUP finding its way into production.  To be frank, it’s still too soon to confirm the KOUP for production but I can tell you Spectra (‘Cerato’ in many markets) is scheduled for a complete makeover this coming year and as you know we have both a sedan and 5-door versions for Spectra.

Let’s speculate a bit about how we could proceed with the KOUP design shown at NYIAS.  For sure what was shown is a design direction that’s being considered for mass production.  We strongly suggested as much during the press conference.  What we mean by design direction is that you could expect to see the same profile and design themes like the ‘swoosh’ and ‘checkmark’ on the outside and some of the key interior elements.


Our thinking naturally would be to appeal to as many people as possible in the market for an affordable vehicle.  To that end we would target the compact sporty coupe segment and appeal to those who look favorably on the Scion tC and Honda Civic coup, thus a young demographic who places a high value on style and fuel efficiency and not only on high performance.

Concept cars are designed to stretch the thinking of both designer and audience so it’s inevitable that not all what was shown in New York will make it to production.  As an example, while 19” wheels and Brembo brakes are cool they aren’t practical in a production car.  And as much as we all love the panoramic-view sunroof, while entirely possible its cost would belie the premise of a low-cost coup.

But some other exciting elements of the design, perhaps surprisingly so, are more practical than they might appear.  The dashboard, instrument cluster, the high-styled door panels and the frameless doors are a good example of what I mean; very forward thinking and very doable.

Instrument cluster

The KOUP was a fun project for all of us at Kia and we learned a lot about which way we will proceed as we bring to market the next generation of Spectra.  Will the KOUP see the light of day?  Let’s put it this way, all of our concept vehicles have a firm toehold in reality and some are more real than others.  If you take a look back at the concept cars we have shown on the international show circuit these past few years you will find your answer.

  • Pingback: The future of Kia KOUP | Kia Forums and Kia Blog()

  • Andy Miller Sales Manager John Hughes Kia-Perth W.Australia

    Jay I disagree with you on a couple of points. Firstly 19 inch wheels and brembo brakes AND 216 kw of raw power are practical in a product line-up. Before the WRX STi Subaru were Suba-who? That car is singlehandedly responsible for the dramatic change in public opinion of the subaru marque. I think the Koup is a pivotol vehicle and should not be viewed as a “low cost coupe”. I fully understand the culture of KIA and as manager of a Kia Dealership I fully understand the KIA buying demographic. But I also think that creative expansion can happen without closing the doors on the existing market place. Let’s light a fire under the imaginations of that young sector of indepent buyers and offer a product that doesn’t smack of streamlined budget production ( a sports car you have when you can’t have a real sports car ) .
    Not withstanding the sunroof ( which is a perfect way to blow out the costs and at the same time undermine performance ) I think there should be a version offered to the public that incorporates most of what you put on show in New York. It doesn’t mean that KIA will turn into a boutique prodict overnight, but it will ensure a culture change in buyers sentiment. The RX7 did it for Mazda. This is just my opinion but sometimes company ethos and historical precidence can dibilitate real growth and positive change. Remember , the founders of KIA thought outside of the box and innovated themselves into todays reality. It is up to your generation to bust through the ceiling they have created and build powerfully on their template of success.

  • Andy Miller, you’re the man. I totally agree with your way of thinking!

  • Ken D

    I totally agree with Andy Miller. KIA seriously needs to drop the cheap Korean car image and that KOUP will definately show people what KIA are capable of.
    19″ tyres are a cheap tyre these days. Most cars these days have large rims and 19’s are no longer classed as big. I’d actually run 20’s but that’s me.
    Ditch the glass roof but keep the wheels, brakes and HP with a sporty interior.
    When I saw the concept, I immediately emailed KIA Australia and told them to put me on the waiting list.

  • Scott

    Like the rest of you, i agree. Get rid of the sun roof, but keep the look and hp. Its the design that gets the attention and with a few ponies to back up the looks, you have a winner. Americans are looking for car with great mpg, and somthing that stands out. Even a small 4 cly would do, you could spawn a kia upgrade site and sell turbos, bodykits and so-on, and make a kiling on aftermaket parts as well. Basicly, make the car (minus the sunroof) with minium extras and offer v6 and other option as extras. This way you have the cheap, awsome looking car, with possibites.

    Just my $.02

  • shawn

    I will buy KOUP FIRST DAY if they keep the HP and torque. and the base design which was knockout….. please make the car… dont water it down..

  • Gi Woo


    Why does the styling look so dated on this NY prototype? Somehow, the current Spectra (‘Cerato’) loks much more enthusiastic in styling than the bland look that KIA is going for on this KOUP showcarfrom NY, which we found a major disappointment.

    Currently the Magentis is suffering from the same “blandness” and large wheels don’t seem to mak up for th deficit in lack of inspiuration in styling.

    Granted, what the current Spectra needs is better proportions which this KOUP seems to offer. Otherwise, a major part of the Spectra success is the styling which put KIA ahead of the game. Not the style direction that seems more aimed at fleet sales rather than individuality that customers want.

    You may be wiser to take note at what young demographic customers are leaning towards, now losing much interest in the dated looking Scion Tc while in the and favring the Honda Civic Coupe.

    By the way, the ‘swoosh’ and the ‘checkmark’ themes are already being used on current Opel models in Europe and will probably become Saturns inthe USA.

    At least the current Spectra was aimed at more upscale customers and gave some credibility to the KIA brand during it’s lifetime. It looked profesionally done but just neded some more HP and those 19″ wheels! Had KIA done a coupe’ and a sportwagon, they woud have been spot on!

  • Lemuel Emanuel

    I know you all did not follow thrrough with the Kia Koup CONCEPT! I was just wondering would you all happen to have made and extra intrument cluster? I love the way the instrument cluster is on the Concept!

  • Massari001

    cuando produciran este koup concept !!!!