Kia will begin production next year on a sport sedan conceived to steal buyers from German heavyweights BMW and Audi, according to a report published by the Reuters news agency.

Reuters got the tip from a pair of Kia insiders “with direct knowledge of the matter,” though they asked the agency not to identify them.

While we won’t say we saw this one coming, it would be a sensible move for a relatively young company that has made major advances in quality thanks to Hyundai, which owns a third of Kia. Hyundai has made its move into the luxury segment by splitting its Genesis nameplate into a stand-alone brand, leaving little room for Kia to pursue similar pursuits with cars like the slow-selling K900. A fun-to-drive small RWD four-door makes more sense as it targets a larger base of shoppers who might have in mind a 3 Series or A4, or relative newcomers like the Cadillac ATS and Alfa Romeo’s upcoming Giulia.

Reuters’ sources say the sporty Kia, supposedly code-named “CK,” would use 2.0, 2.2, and 3.0L engines (probably turbocharged, technology the brand is already well-versed in) with the company forecasting global annual sales around 60,000. We’d expect pricing to be very competitive; a base MSRP in the low-$30,000 (CAD) range would undercut the models from which Kia wants to steal sales. As for the projected May 2017 production timeline, that would mean a global (or at least North American) introduction at either the Los Angeles Auto Show in November of this year, or Detroit’s NAIAS in January 2017. We wonder if we already got a taste of what the car could look like in the Novo concept Kia showed last April at the Seoul auto show, and is pictured here. In the meantime, we’ll be watching for an official announcement from Kia.

Kia Novo 5

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