October 19th, 2009
08:48 AM GMT
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SEOUL, South Korea - There are a few reasons why Kim Han-Chal calls his supercar the “Tiger.”

The first is apparent when you get behind the wheel of the Spirra. Zero to 100 kilometers per hour (0-62 mph) in 3.8 seconds with 500 horsepower, your throat hits the back of your neck as the gas pedal hits the floor. The Spirra is the definition of supercar: fast, sporty, sleep, and a six-figure U.S.-dollar price tag.

But the more important reason Kim, the creator of the car, calls it the “Tiger,” is that the animal is a powerful symbol of Korea. That’s apropos for Korea’s first venture into the supercar market, made with all Korean parts, built with Korean hands. “We were the only country that didn't have a supercar,” Kim says. Neighbor Japan has a Toyota and Honda supercar, and Germany and Italy has Porsche and Lamborghini.

The car enthusiast, who pledges if you check carefully he has gas running in his veins, dreamed of building a car on his home soil. He believed in his countrymen’s ability to produce a high-end car, not just the reliable, eco-friendly Hyundai or Kia.

For 10 years, he tinkered with designs and poured his money into concept car after concept car. But it wasn't until he partnered with Oullim motors, backed by the wealth of a high tech company, that he began production. Now Europe is his first major customer. A dealer in the Netherlands purchased 145 orders of his handmade cars over the next three years, marking the first commercial entrée of his supercar into the global market.

CLSA auto analyst Christopher J. Richter says supercars are often losing business ventures and are built to send a message. “These guys, I think the message they want say is 'Hey, we can make a super car too, high performance car too, and we can do it with all Korean components. It stirs the pot a little bit and shows that auto-making is not just about Germany or Japan, but Korean auto-makers have a valuable contribution to make.”

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Filed under: Auto industryBusinessSouth Korea

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Jonny

    Definite improvements in the Korean auto industry, but even looking at the very first clip of the flex of the entire console around the push button start screams cheap. Hopefully this is just a prototype and little nuances like this will be addressed.

    Not a very inspired look either. Sort of a bland copy of other designs.

    October 20, 2009 at 5:01 am |
  2. inaka_rob

    dont get me wrong, this car is fast and all, but they have regular sports cars with better specs than this. The new Nissan GTR is well under 6 figures, and has a much faster 0-100 kmp speed. 3.4 I think but don't quote me. Not to mention, after watching videos of both cars, this so called super car looked a lot less fun and seems to handle like a brick compared to a 911 or GTR. But its their first try, so keep it up, and next time try to make the car actually look cool.

    October 20, 2009 at 6:13 am |
  3. Andreas

    "Supercar" is quite an elusive concept. It is very much in the minds of the public and the motoring press. Just making a fast car is not enough. It needs something more, something ethereal, something which is very difficult to put into words.

    That's why the Pagani Zonda is considered a supercar while the Ascari KZ1, despite blistering performance, is not. The Ascari just doesn't have "it", whatever that is. The Honda NS-X (Acura NS-X for Americans) mentioned in the article is definitely not a supercar for the simple reason that no self-respecting supercar has less than 8 cylinders.

    Thus, while this Tiger is quit impressive, I don't think it can be called a supercar quite yet. Time will tell.

    October 20, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  4. Nina

    Competition makes better change

    October 20, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  5. DeonTM

    Wow. Looks awsome XD wish i could get one

    October 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  6. Jason

    Umm, does it remind you of another car?

    Perhaps a Ferrari?

    Love it when Hyundai copies other manufacturer's designs, no imagination...

    October 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  7. John

    Nothing really new or exciting with the style...totally looks like a Ferrari wannabe.. Quite clear no one with any imagination created this car.

    October 21, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  8. Tuffy

    Jason, can you please read the entire article before making your asinine comments! Spirra is the creation of one man. Hyundai has nothing to do with it!

    Toyota didn't start with original designs either, but they have their own style now. Same thing is happening with Hyundai as well. Please keep up with the recent news instead of living in the past!

    October 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  9. odumcan

    I am happy for The Korean new super car call Tiger. Just coming back from Korea yesterday, all i see is Korean copying other countries model of car.

    I come to love Korean cars especially their brake system and i hope this will be all about Korean Model not only Korean handmade.


    October 22, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Right on!

    Bravo "Tuffy" . . . Credit given where credit is due. I think it is a great, mentionable first attempt. It is not usual or expected to start out at the TOP of the mountain. South Korea has given the world an excellent example to follow in many ways.

    October 23, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  11. 200MPH+

    While quite an interesting car. .... the Corvette Z06 at $80,000 USD beats just about any car on the road today and is cheaper than this car. 3.2 0-60mph, top speed 198MPH, 10s in the quarter. The Z06 does have the same interior finishing issues.

    As for supercar status .... far to subjective to say. Andreas is quite correct. There are those that consider the Z06 and ZR1 the American supercar, so perhaps this IS the S. Korean version. Remember a supercar above ALL has to be FUN!!!! That said it can not be too polished or the fun is lost.

    October 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  12. Andy

    Perhaps it does share similarities or have similar lines as a Ferrari, Ascari, Lambo or Lotus. But that can simply go down to the aerodynamics of racing cars for the sake of speed.

    It may not be the prettiest or must absurd thing in the Supercar category, but I applaud them for their effort

    October 24, 2009 at 2:03 am |
  13. vadim

    I have MUSSO, Korean off road car with mercedes engine. Very very good!

    So i am sure that a.m. tiger must be interesting


    October 24, 2009 at 4:23 am |
  14. randy

    hey gUys, i woULd Like to see North Korea create a sUpercar was weLL. Maybe they can ease on the nUcLear t IssUes of even incorporate that on a sUpercar. hehehe

    October 24, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  15. scott

    This is what I've been looking for! I want it now!! I heard that it's available in Europe but it's not yet available in the States. What's up with that?? Please don't tell me because most americans would not fit in this car.. so sad for trans fat !

    October 26, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  16. Jason

    Wow Tuffy, speak for yourself. Who owns Oullim motors? Ummm Hyundai?

    As far as Japanese cars looking similar to American cars, that is because the launching dates were around the same time, so there is no conclusive evidence to prove who's designs were who's...

    So if you look at the current line up of Hyundai's cars entering the US market like the Sonata and the Equus, they will look very similar to Toyota's camery and Lexus LS model. Now these launching dates post dates Toyota's.

    So please don't speak to me about reading the current news or living in the past when you clearly don't. Get a freaking brain and some info into it!

    October 26, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  17. Jason

    On a side note, Spirra was created by Proto Motors who was purchased by Oullim motors and then the majority shares owned by Hyundai parent company.

    October 26, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  18. JakTeach

    @Tuffy – While I can respect Korean car makers for trying something new, they do not have a great reputation for creativity and a worse reputation for copying. Its way too soon for you to compare yourself to Japan. (Lexus, Skylines, NSXs, and 20+ years of the 300 series going back to when they were Datsun 240s, let alone the Toyota Supra. Moto GP Bikes since the 1970s, the list goes on.)

    While the SK car companies are trying to take a step forward, it could actually stand to show how far behind they really are if the car is not unique, well built and fast.

    I used to live in SK and never understood why most cars were grey, with a few white and black. (Again, a serious lack of joy-de-vevre or creativity)

    Korea is an awesome place and has tons of potential, but until Korea embraces where it is deficient –rather than remaining defensive to some weak points– then they will not be able to embrace their own potential and future.

    I look forward to seeing the Tiger on Top Gear with Jeremy C & the Stig behind the wheel.

    October 27, 2009 at 2:17 am |
  19. george

    congrats to Korea.
    Why criticize Korea for making a supercar? Are you just jealous?

    October 27, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  20. Rowny J.Vidot

    they have to start somewhere, so it is no use criticising, dont forget, no one holds the monopoly over intelligence.

    October 27, 2009 at 6:19 am |
  21. Julian

    I've came through a phrase like this from BBC Top Gear,

    "Our grandfather grown up in a car while their grandfather grown up on an ox."

    LoL. Do they understand handling? Are those parts designed, tested, produced by Korean? Do they hired foreign engineers?

    But after all, in today's world, making money is the vital part of everything. Well, they've got the money, they can hire whoever they want to produce a Koean Tiger.

    October 29, 2009 at 2:03 am |
  22. Aditi

    Nice, six-figures for a sports car that's "sleep." ;)

    October 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  23. Toshie Mbaya

    On looks not bad at all however the question is supercars or sportscars for that matter are made to perform more that the average car and give ultimate driving pleasure..... am sorry to say this looks like ultimate driving terror .....no handling at all!

    November 1, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  24. Marvin

    Yawn....there are several cars made in Korea that cost at or over a 100K, so price isn't really an issue. 6 figures don't a supercar make. Handmade doesn't equal a supercar. Did this story auther own a car in the last 10 years? Maybe not. So, who's to judge? Of course, how many different aero shapes are there, only a few. To say one car looks like another, if it's not a direct knockoff, then what? Chevy trucks look like Dodge...and it goes on and on. A look is a look is a look. This is a slick new overpriced car. But so is the affordable new Sonata and Genesis Coupe.

    November 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  25. kioni

    As the name suggest "tiger"its unique animal,so also this supercar it might unique in Korea,being with that high horse power.This show that,consistent working for what our heart desire,it bring up strange result which every being will be proud of.kudus korean.

    November 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
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