See, I am a firm believer that the FR-S and BRZ were developed as 2+2 coupes instead of two seater convertibles because there is no “affordable, RWD, 2 seater convertible” market. That niche is actually called “People who want Miatas” and people who want Miatas don’t want vehicles that aren’t Miatas. There is no market there. I am also a firm believer that the FR-S development schedule was purposely stalled to wait for the RX-8 to be off the market because that market was “People who want an RX-8”. Now there is just the market of “People who want an FR-S”. Why in the world would an automaker want to build a vehicle for that market? A person who wants an FR-S is not going to buy a Kia copy of the FR-S. The truth is that the FR-S and BRZ are not some revolutionary vehicle that is sorely needed in the market. That market has never gone, it is just rarely explored by automakers because in truth nobody actually wants a car like that and only the most die-hard of fanboys actually buy them. The “Affordable, small sports coupe” market doesn’t exist because every offering for it is not affordable. Auto makers worry about not being able to actually sell the cars and thus build them in limited quantities and the result is an inflated price. We are left with a car that is too useless to be a daily driver and too expensive to be a second car and thus only get bought by kids with disposable parental income and the most rabid of brand fanboys. If there was actually a market for such cars then Mazda would have tried to keep the RX-8 relevant and Honda would have kept the S2000 around.
So why does Kia want to build an FR-S? Here comes the rage… Korea HATES Japan and they HATE that they can’t buy the FR-S because they HATE Japan. It’s the same reason that they built the Genesis Coupe because they HATED the fact that Japan had the Skyline Coupe, they build the Genesis Sedan because they HATED the Lexus GS and they build the Equus because they HATED the Lexus LS. You’ll notice too that Hyundai compares these vehicles to makes from other countries even though you can tell they directly benchmarked the Lexus. They want to simply say “We are better than the Japanese.” So Kia isn’t building their little FR-S copy because they see a market, they’re building it to thumb their nose at the Japanese. Outside of enthusiast circles you never hear “I wish automakers would make more autocross ready, underpowered, sports coupes”. So sure, they’ll only sell a few but surely it will sell better than the Genesis!
So that brings us to the compact truck, the market that is so dead that the kings of trucks, Ford, won’t even bother to build one anymore. But Hyundai wants to build one, why? Toyota does. QED.
So the next time you see a Hyundai concept and think, “Why the hell is Hyundai building this?” Look at Toyota, Honda, Nissan or Mazda and I bet you’ll find a niche vehicle just like it.
Have a great day.