From its divisive baroque styling to its status as the court jester of the rental car circuit, the Kia Amanti has so far lived a less than charmed life. The Amanti's tough luck story could change in a big hurry, however, if a new story from Motor Trend is true. MT is reporting that the Amanti is will be going rear-wheel drive as soon as late 2011 on a smaller version of the Hyundai Genesis Sedan platform.

Since Kia is more value-oriented as a brand than Hyundai, most expect the new Amanti to be a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Genesis Sedan. The current Amanti has a lofty starting price of $26,045, but boatloads of incentives are needed to move them off dealer lots.

Motor Trend speculates that the 375-hp Tau V8 engine probably won't make its way under the hood of the next Amanti, with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the 3.8-liter V6 being the more likely powertrains. We're thinking that a range of four- and six-cylinder engines would be sufficient, especially when considering tough new fuel economy laws scheduled for 2011 and beyond.

We do have one question, however. With such a radical rethink apparently in store and not having a great deal of brand equity tied up in the Amanti brand, wouldn't Kia be better off finding a new name? They haven't seemed too reluctant to change model names in recent years when bringing out new models, so perhaps they'll consider a change in designations.

Either way, with its hip and stylish Soul, the surprisingly competent Optima, along with the pretty new Forte and Koup models, Kia's lineup has gotten a radical overhaul for the better. If the next-gen Amanti is anywhere near as good as Hyundai's Genesis Sedan, the competition should keep a very close eye on boys from South Korea.

[Source: Motor Trend]