NY Auto Show: Kia Came To Play

Usually Thursday morning at The New York Auto Show is the dead zone, as is the lower level of the Javits Center in NYC in general.

But Kia may have stole what was a mostly lame auto show with its Kia Koup. The Korean automaker kept it a surprise until Thursday with no advance photos.

Slickly designed, and with a very cool interior, the real story is under the hood of the Kia, which could hit U.S. streets as early aas next year by the looks of it. A four-cylinder 2.0 liter turbo-charged engine that produces 290 horsepower and 290 pounds-feet of torque. Zounds. No all-wheel-drive for this little beast like the Subaru WRX. Can you say torque steer?

Don’t put any hot coffee in the cup-holder.

Given the tepid response by the media to the new Subbie WRX, Kia has a real opportunity to become the new favorite pocket rocket of the enthusiast and tuner media. That is of they can keep the car in one lane.

It was a good outcome for Kia, which has been in the news lately for firing its top two American executives, Len Hunt and Ian Beavis. Byung Mo Ahn, Kia Motors America new president who did the firing, was on hand for the unveiling. He was introduced, but did not speak and did not take an interview request.

It is not for his lack of English, as he certainly took the opportunity to address Kia’s U.S. dealers at the recent NADA meeting. Ahn has promised Hyundai chairman Chung back in Korea 450,000 sales in 2008, up 48% from what the company did last year. That’s in the middle of a U.S. Recession.

Good luck with that Mr. Ahn. We know how reasonable Chairman Chung can be.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.