Drivers - Start your Engines: A legend is born
Group Lotus and Kia Motors of Korea announced today that the Lotus Esprit will be produced by Kia beginning with the 2005 model year.
Kia is excited to move into the Super Car category with a proven car named Esbling 3500. Engine and drivetrain will be derived from existing Kia models. This will allow Kia immediate entry into the lucrative North American market.
The move is reminiscent of the agreement between the two companies when Lotus sold the tooling and rights to Kia for the M100 Elan. Kia was delighted to instantly have a car that could compete with the Miata. This new deal will put Kia into competition with Honda's NSX and Porsche's venerable 911.
"This is the second strategic alliance between Lotus and Kia", says Kuk-Jen Yoon, President & Chief Executive Officer of Kia Motors. "This agreement illustrates the leadership of Kia as a real performance oriented auto maker."
Kia is expected to make some changes to the drivetrain and engine package, but all else is expected to remain the same. Target launch is April 1, 2005.
Kia expects phenomenal performance and handling. The Kia Esbling 3500 will be powered by an advanced 3.5 litre V6 that is currently fitted in the Kia Amanti putting out 200 hp at 5500 rpm.
Kia is upgrading the wheels to 24" diameter. A sure hit in the urban areas. Special graphics packages will be made available such as "Flame Heat" and Neon-Stripes.
Key to this phenomenal performance and handling is the total aerodynamic package and light weight, the latter made possible through innovative engineering and clever design.
The 2005 Kia Esbling 3500 will be built in Hwasung, South Korea, and will be available in showrooms in fall 2004. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.
Artist conception of the KIA Esbling.
Kia Motors America is the U.S. sales, marketing and service arm of Kia Motors Corp. in Seoul, South Korea.