The Latest Korean All-Electric Concept Car
Forget some fancy futuristic name for Kia’s latest all-electric concept car. Debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show this week, the Korean company went with “Imagine by Kia.” The interesting thing as Kia embraces electrified vehicles, currently with five models, is that they would have to ask us to “imagine” this EV concept.
An Emotional Connection
Gregory Guillaume, Vice President of Design for Kia Motors Europe, says that Kia “wanted to move away from the rational and focus on the emotional, and embrace a warmer and more human approach to electrification.” Kia’s vision is to take drivers out of the usual mindset of range, economy and performance, and into one where owning an electric vehicle is no more of a stretch than owning a gasoline-powered vehicle. The Imagine by Kia is what they hope will start that emotional connection.
A quick classification of the Imagine isn’t easy, which is exactly what Kia was going for. It is a C-segment car, which is the best-selling car size in Europe. In America this would be a Volkswagen Golf or Honda Civic. After looking at all views of the Imagine, it is a muscular C-segment entry, so the debate begins—is it a crossover, a hatchback or a sedan? Yes, Yes, and Yes. The lines are blurred. Purposefully so.
The front end takes the Kia signature tiger nose grill and morphs it into the tiger mask. The result is an attractive, slim, low-placed grill that thankfully doesn’t follow the current big mouth bass grill trend found on many cars. Sitting above the illuminated tiger mask is one of the sharpest lighting designs we’ve seen, what Kia calls “horizontal eyelids” over LED headlights with turn signal slits found high on the hood. Even the Kia logo has been updated to a far more expressive “KIA” script that glows as the Imagine approaches a car from behind.
For a very seamless and sleek look, the windshield and roof are all one piece of glass that Kia calls a “sky window.” The roof then continues to a double-bubble over the rear passengers and to the lift back rear glass that ends in Stinger-like wrap-around brake light strips. The surface on the Imagine by Kia concept is six hand-applied layers of chrome-effect paint topped with a bronze tint.
The 22-inch alloy wheels have four flush inserts of transparent acrylic glass, polished at the front and diamond cross-cut at the back, to reflect and refract the light, much like a cut diamond would, as the wheels move. The Goodyear Intelligrip EV concept tires are specially designed for Kia to detect and transmit road conditions to the driver, so handling and driving can be adjusted as necessary.
Think the exterior is cool? Open the wide-swinging suicide doors to reveal what Kia calls an “interior to have a twinkle in its eye, to be full of surprising and delightful touches that amuse”. The cabin is airy and spacious, with a flat floor and floating center console, with what Ralph Kluge, Kia Motors Europe’s General Manager of Interior Design, says “has a wry sense of humor too.” What he is referencing are the 21 individual ultra high-resolution screens that curve their way across the top of the dashboard. The 21 screens are a “humorous and irreverent riposte to the on-going competition between some automotive manufacturers to see who can produce the car with the biggest screen”. While this design would never be in a production Imagine, we certainly get what Kia is doing by taking a poke at Tesla, Polestar and startups like Byton.
Kia wanted Imagine viewers to “free their imagination” and have “goose bumps” when they first looked at it. An apparition or not, the Imagine by Kia is a truly interesting and unique concept. Clean Fleet Report recognizes Kia in their drive to be a leader in fuel-efficient, stylish vehicles, making the Imagine a pleasant look to the future.
Is there any reality of seeing an Imagine on the road? Not as shown at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. But it’s guaranteed that bits and pieces of it will be in a Kia coming to your dealership in the next few years. Just imagine that.
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