2008 Kia Koup Concept

The Kia Koup concept (Koncept?) that debuted at the 2008 New York auto show accomplishes two things for Kia. First, it gives us a good idea of how the next-generation Kia Spectra will look, which is to say, a lot sexier than the current one. Second, it also reveals the new corporate “face” for Kia.

We caught up with Kia’s worldwide design director, Peter Schreyer, a veteran of Audi‘s design studios, at Kia’s cocktail party near Javits Center the night before the official unveiling of the Koup. Kia positioned the car in a special presentation room that was awash in red lights, so it was difficult to tell what color the actual car is, because it looked kinda pink. This morning at the official unveiling, it became clear that the Koup is actually bright red, and it sports a full glass roof. At the party, the Koup was draped, but the drape was teasingly pulled back enough to show part of the front-three-quarter view, the side greenhouse, and the rear flanks and trunk. With its muscular, defined corners and sharply drawn sheetmetal, the Koup looks great and is clearly much closer to production than, say, the Kia Kee that debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show last September.

“The Koup was designed at our California studio. Koup [with a K] is a play on Kia, but this is actually a preview of the next Spectra,” says Schreyer. This is a two-door, but the production car will be a four-door, although Schreyer allows that “we will see what the reaction is from the media and the public here at the show. If it is positive, we might also consider a coupe version. But the sedan is for sure and will come within a year’s time.” Kia insiders indicate that a Spectra coupe version is quite likely, about six months after the Spectra sedan, and it should look virtually identical to the Koup concept.

“What I like about the Koup is its proportion and stance,” Schreyer continues. “The front shows for the first time our new grille [Kia calls it a ‘tabbed grille’], a theme that I want to follow as a signature family face for Kia worldwide. I want Kia to have an identity, like when you see a Mercedes or BMW or Audi or Volvo coming toward you and it is immediately identifiable-that would be nice for Kia. We do not currently have that kind of awareness, which makes a brand a lot stronger.”

When asked about Kia’s relationship with Hyundai, in terms of design, Schreyer insists that Kia will go its own way: “I have a strong idea about what I want to do. I am trying to implement this [design theme] around the world, at our three design studios [Korea, Europe, USA]. We will have our own style [as compared with Hyundai] and our own form language. That is the only way that we can effectively differentiate ourselves from [corporate parent] Hyundai.”

By the looks of the Kia Koup, we’d say that Schreyer is on the right track. This is actually a sexier car than the Genesis coupe that Hyundai unveiled at the New York show.

Check out the Kia Koup concept in the gallery below.

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