Kia plans an MX-5 rival

* Small sports car planned * Rear-wheel-drive likely * Sporty sub-brand under consideration...

Kia plans an MX-5 rival

Kia needs a Mazda MX-5 rival, a highly placed company executive has revealed to What Car?

Senior figures at the car maker are known to have wanted a so-called 'halo' model for several years. Sources have revealed that such a car could be getting closer and could be rear-wheel drive like the iconic Mazda.

Kia doesnt currently have any rear-wheel-drive models, but it has revealed plans for a new large luxury saloon that's due to arrive in mid-2012. This Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival is unlikely to come to Europe, but Korean executives are thinking about scaling-down the technology and bringing smaller rear-wheel-drive cars to Europe by 2015.

In the past, Kias design boss Peter Schreyer has admitted that a Kia sports car would not need to be fast, but compact, affordable and fun.

Kia bosses are also thought to be in favour of boosting the car maker's sporty image with hot hatches based on the Kia Rio supermini and next-generation Ceed.

In the future, an entire sub-brand such as Renaultsport or Fords Team RS is possible. Kia is also considering a far greater involvement in motorsport, to help build a sportier image for the brand.