The Kia Elan Sport is a 2-door roadster marketed by the South Korean car manufacturer Kia from 1995 to 1999. After the final production run of the Elan in 1995, Lotus sold its production rights to Kia Motors, which produced its own version. Outwardly, the Kia Elan looks almost identical to the original.
History of the Kia Elan Sport
Lotus was losing money, so it was more than willing to sell its production rights and tooling to the Elan sports car to Kia. Interestingly, production of the Elan somehow continued in South Korea, but under a different brand. Kia continued building the Elan and marketed it using the name. Yes, there was a Kia Elan, and not even the British had the chance to own it. The second-gen Elan was a good car, but the MX-5 Miata was better and cheaper. Dwindling sales led Lotus to stop production of the Elan in 1995. But production of the Elan only ended at Lotus, as it resumed thousands of miles away at Kia's assembly lines in South Korea. However, the Kia Elan was not a rip-off of the Lotus-built original. On the outside, the Kia Elan pretty looks much like the Lotus Elan, except for some details inside and out. It should be since when Lotus ceased building the Elan, it sold its production rights to Kia. This gave Kia access to the design and other elements pertinent – including tooling – for the production of its own version of the Elan. Lotus, which was losing money at the time, was more than willing to sell its rights to the Elan to Kia. Interestingly, Kia became saw the Elan as an attractive product, particularly because it wanted to build a sports car for its home market. But since developing a new car would take both money and time, Kia grabbed the opportunity to purchase the rights to the Elan from Lotus. Essentially, Kia didn't rip its Elan off the original model that Lotus built in the United Kingdom, unlike many Chinese cars that copied existing models from other carmakers. After all, Kia managed to obtain all the rights to produce the sports car at its own behest. Nevertheless, Kia faced a number of hurdles before it could finally produce the Elan for the South Korean market. For instance, General Motors – which used to own Lotus – wouldn't allow Kia to use its parts for the production of the Elan. One of these parts was the original's 1.6L turbocharged engine, which Lotus sourced from Isuzu. But since Isuzu was another GM-owned company, Kia never had access to the mill. But since Kia needed an engine to propel its own Elan, it used its owned 1.8L naturally aspirated unit. The result was a drop in power, from 162 hp to 151 hp. Kia eventually produced a little more than 1,000 examples of the Elan sports car in its manufacturing facility in Ansan, South Korea. The carmaker sold the Elan not just in South Korea, but also in Japan as the Kia Vigato. Production was also short-lived, spanning around four years from 1996 to 1999. Lotus announced a new Elan at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, along with four other new models. The British had plans to commence production of the Elan in 2013. No thanks to financial difficulties, Lotus had to cancel the whole project before it could even start warming up its production line.
In 1996, Kia retailed the Kia Elan Sport with an original manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of 27,500,000 Korean Won, which is around 54,295,805 Korean Won or $43,868 in 2023.
Specs and Performance of the Kia Elan Sport
- 1.8L T8D engine
The Kia Elan Sport's 1.8L engine delivers 149 hp (111 kW) at 6,250 rpm and 137 lb-ft (186 Nm) of torque at 4,500 rpm. Kia marketed the Elan Sport as a front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicle, and it was available with a 5-speed manual. Kia Elan Sport accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (0–97 kph) in 7.4 seconds with a top speed of 133 mph (214 kph). Dimension-wise, the Kia Elan Sport measures 3,880 mm (152.8 in) long, 1,730 mm (68.1 in) wide, and 1,270 mm (50 in) high. Its wheelbase measures 2,250 mm (88.6 in) and has a curb weight of 2,359 lbs (1,070 kg).
Kia manufactured and marketed the Kia Elon Sport in the South Korean market between 1995 and 1999. It was also available as the Kia Vigato in the Japanese market.