The KV7 concept's design stands in sharp contrast to the dramatically raked windshields and wedge-shaped noses found throughout the van segment, and builds on the philosophy of "embracing the box" established by Kia's funky Soul urban passenger vehicle to create a unique and alluring design language that brings SUV-like qualities to the segment.
"From the outset, we felt the category was in need of an honest reassessment due to the fact that everyone seems so desperate to attach the word 'sporty' to their minivan, even though vans, at their very core are simply a box," said Tom Kearns, chief designer, Kia Motors America. "Rather than reject the box we chose to celebrate it, just like we did with the Soul, and the result is a straightforward yet sophisticated vehicle that retains the functionality vans are known for and meets the changing and diverse needs of today's consumers."
The KV7 concept's most striking feature is its passenger-side gullwing door, which creates a massive point-of-entry to the lounge-like interior when opened in conjunction with the pillar-less front passenger door.
The KV7 concept's inviting face is highlighted by an interpretation of Kia's signature bold tabbed grille with vertical LED headlamps integrated within the design to create a clean, smooth look. The KV7 features several LED lighting elements that Kia's design team is evaluating for future production vehicles, including a continuous line of LED fog lights that span the entire front end of the vehicle and directional turn indicators on the outside mirrors and the rear of the vehicle that pulse in the direction being signaled.
The KV7 concept's distinctive windshield follows the unique designs found on the new Sportage CUV and Optima midsize sedan, and a series of near-continuous windows starting at the A-pillar provide uninterrupted views of a day at the beach or a night out on the town. And despite its non-traditional look, the KV7's length (191.85 in.), width (80.0 in.) and wheelbase (122.0 in.) are consistent with the van segment and allow flexible seating configurations and a multitude of storage options.
In the process of rethinking what a van's exterior appearance and image could be, Kia's Southern California design team also envisioned an interior to meet the needs of an entirely new group of consumers – a group of people referred to as "Ringleaders." Rather than using a van to transport children and their accompaniments, Ringleaders are busy organizing road trips, social outings and new adventures for themselves and their friends to experience together. As such, the KV7 concept's interior employs four custom-built swiveling seats, including the driver's seat, and a rear-corner mini-lounge with seating for three and integrated storage compartments to promote interaction in an open social environment.
When the KV7 concept's push button start is engaged, the entire front dash moves more than six inches toward the driver, bringing all controls within easy reach, including the large multi-use display which integrates infotainment, climate and navigation systems in one simple- to-use interface controlled by a trackball mouse mounted in the dash. Rear passengers have their own, separate interface in the form of a floating tabletop touch-screen computer display. The KV7 is Wi-Fi enabled, providing both the front and rear displays with Internet capabilities and the ability for multiple passengers to connect their smart phones to the vehicle at one time and sign on to social networking sites.
The final element that separates the KV7 concept from the rest of the minivan crowd can be found under the hood – the concept is powered by Kia's new Theta II 2.0-liter GDI turbocharged engine, which is capable of delivering up to 285 horsepower, and is mated to a six- speed automatic transmission to deliver V6-type power and performance while achieving better than 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
Click here for more photos
The four-seater, 2-door coupe Kee is designed with svelte, newly-proportioned lines resulting from a slightly lengthened greenhouse. It is a new interpretation of a 2+2 coupe with an imposing road presence that demonstrates an uncluttered, pure and timeless execution which represents a new design philosophy for Kia.
Much more than just a concept car, the new Kee is also the dawn of a new design language for the Kia brand – a language that is meant to speak to motorists around the globe about Kia’s intention to become a major automotive nameplate.
Kee embodies Kia’s desire to create a family of cars that will be instantly recognizable on the road and will have a simple yet sophisticated appeal in dealer showrooms. Whether wide-eyed admirers of this new generation of vehicles are existing Kia customers – wise to the quality, safety and strong value of the brand – or an entirely new audience, they will immediately recognize a range of cars aimed at those who enjoy driving and seek the perfect machinery to deliver that experience.
‘Kee communicates a design language that will be seen on all future Kia products,’ continued Schreyer. ‘That language is stated in certain elements of the visual representation – lines, shapes, details. It is meant to be consistent and easy to understand; visually strong and purposeful but capable of being transferred from this sports coupe concept to a city runabout, a family sedan, a load-lugging MPV or a go-anywhere SUV.
Measuring 14 feet long, the Kia Kee is a new interpretation of a 2+2 coupe, featuring a broad stance and a low profile with unique exterior elements such as a strong and powerful frontal design with distinctive headlamps and an eye-catching LED cluster, as well as a dynamic profile with striking greenhouse treatment. Kee keeps a simple yet distinctive outline thanks to its long sweeping hood, slightly lengthened cabin, sculpted flanks and strong, yet almost hidden, body lines.
Beneath the powerful and unique appearance are a host of fine details all hinting at the car’s true purpose to create a sophisticated design entity. Whether it is the milled aluminum B-pillar visible through the panoramic grey-tinted glass, the distinctively individual 20-inch wheels or the small touches such as the electronic micro-switch door release set into the side-window glass, it is clear that this car has been lovingly created by people who care about design.
Inside, Kee looks and feels like a true sports car in which the observant driver will instantly feel comfortable and at ease. The cabin is designed for maximum focus on driving. Clustered directly ahead of the driver, the main dials and controls are simple and straightforward utilizing Kia’s new standard red-orange illumination.
The design team has concentrated on producing a realistic sports coupe – not a flight of fancy; the brand has no intention of moving into the exotic sports car territory that others so amply fill. Every element of the Kia Kee design is clear, easy to understand and use. All the main controls are fly-by wire, but their feel has been created to deliver a sense of tradition. For example, the toggle switches mounted on the dashboard – echoing the DNA of generations of sports cars – let drivers navigate intuitively through the interface menu of the info-media center.
Light-weight aluminum or plastic panels and components were used wherever possible in order to reduce engine weight and keep the emphasis on rapid and controlled acceleration that ensures simple fun and driving pleasure. The result is a low curb weight with excellent balance biased toward the front of the front-wheel drive car to deliver neutrally safe handling. Kee could also be built with rear wheel drive or even all-wheel-drive for even more spirited driving.
Kee is the first step toward a new family look for Kia vehicles underscored by a focus on distinctive design. Kee lays down very clear indications of how Schreyer and his design team intend future Kia vehicles to look and displays elements that its creators will transfer to future production models.
Click here for more photos
The Kia Kue employs a different approach to the crossover utility vehicle segment by taking elements of what makes a CUV to a new level, namely performance. Kue is designed first and foremost as a driver’s vehicle. While possessing SUV characteristics and capabilities, the Kia Kue focuses more on giving the driver an exhilarating driving experience on the way to the home improvement center than on how much it can haul.
The Kia Kue has a monocoque platform that sits on 22-inch tires with a wheelbase of more than 114 inches, packaged in an overall length of 186 inches. Though purely a concept, the Kia Kue does, however, hint at future styling directions for Kia Motors.
‘Good design shouldn’t look like you are trying too hard,’ said Tom Kearns, KMA chief designer. ‘The future Kia direction will incorporate the ‘less is more’ philosophy but still include a heavy dose of boldness to be distinct.’
With its four wheels pushed to the corners and exterior skin tautly stretched over its underpinnings, the Kue sits powerful and poised. Draped muscular wheel flares play a nice contrast to crisp beveled sections found elsewhere on the body. Swept back headlights connect to the front grille to create a clean, aggressive down-road appearance. The side window shape flows effortlessly into the rear backlight where two centerline hinging doors open to access rear storage. A single side door that incorporates a negative skive shape opens scissor style for easy ingress and egress.
On the inside Kue continues the clean, athletic theme with bold understated simplicity. With a four-passenger seating arrangement and custom-built bucket seats, Kue is a vehicle both driver and passengers can enjoy. A technology-driven interface designed to adjust to driver and passenger preference is the focus of the interior functionality. Touch pad and motion-sensing controls are used to adjust things like audio and climate, and the entire system is programmable so that one surface may activate the stereo for one driver and temperature for another. Rear passengers have their own, separate interface.
The generation-next functionality of the interior is complemented by the use of sophisticated seat and surface materials and a modern color palette. Carefully selected materials and textures are vital components to the interior design of Kue, and they create an upscale feel that is both modern and inviting. A mid dark interior theme with highlights was chosen in place of the typical light interior common to many concept cars. Overall, the Kue interior presents a new perspective of upscale function with an emphasis on comfortable, user-friendly interaction.
Just as inviting is Kue’s appeal to be driven in a sporty fashion. Fitted with a 400-horsepower, DOHC, supercharged 4.6-liter V8 that twists out 400 lb-ft of torque, Kue is a true performance vehicle. Helping the driver harness all that power is a full-time all wheel drive system yielding predictable driving characteristics both on- and off-road.
Click here for more photos
As the world looks for more efficient vehicle designs that combine sophisticated and sleek lines with functionality and fuel economy, the Kia Ray concept is a bold new collaboration between design and engineering and inventively showcases a futuristic four-seat compact sedan based on the Kia Forte platform and demonstrates a prospective plug-in hybrid vehicle configuration from Kia. Designed with lightweight and recycled materials, as well as hexagonal roof-top solar cells embedded in the glass roof panel that power extra lighting or climate control systems, the Kia Ray is the fifth vehicle from the Irvine Calif.-based Kia Design Center America (KDCA) to be revealed in the last year. The latest design from KDCA follows award-winning Kia vehicles Soul, Forte, Forte Koup and the all-new 2011 Sorento CUV.
"It is important to imagine what people will want in the future from a green perspective early in the design process, because people want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies," said Peter Schreyer, chief design officer, Kia Motors Corporation. "Being green doesn’t have to be an obvious statement anymore and the Kia Ray exemplifies a viable blend of modern, eco-minded features for today’s environmentally conscious consumers."
The stylish, aerodynamic Ray combines design and engineering for maximum efficiency, incorporating clean, flush surfaces minimizing any unneeded edges, a flowing profile and pronounced rear shoulder ending in a slightly high deck lid for reduced drag, touch-screen controls, drive-by-wire steering, "cool-glazing" solar glass and a lithium-polymer battery - all possible indicators of future technology from Kia. As a plug-in hybrid, Ray is designed to reach driving distances of more than 50 miles using its electric motor on a single charge, and has a fuel economy rating of more than 202 miles per gallon, and has a total range of 746 miles.
As part of Kia Motors’ EcoDynamics sub-brand, the Ray concept demonstrates a unique vision for eye-catching vehicles with the goal of reducing environmental footprints. Kia models will carry the EcoDynamics badge as they are progressively introduced, and are designed to deliver significant environmental benefits, these vehicles also will retain a sporty design, fun-to-drive performance and a strong appeal for the young-at-heart.
Click here for more photos
“Soul’ster delivers something new, intriguing and relevant to today’s buyers – a fun, affordable convertible for active people who like to share good times with friends,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer, KMA. “Defying categorization and providing utility and practicality, the Soul’ster exhibits distinctive design cues and satisfies multiple consumer needs.”
A two-door concept with roadster roots, the brightly colored Soul’r yellow Soul’ster projects a hip industrial look with screw borders, reminiscent of a rivet design found on a fighter jet.
The windshield is shortened for a sportier and hunkered down appearance. A two-piece top enables passengers to expose the front and back seating areas independently, using elbow-grease technology. The roll bar serves a dual purpose and includes a place for the slider tracks, while providing protection not found in traditional convertibles.
With a unique face, Soul’ster has a tough but refined character. The toughness is expressed through details like the anodized skid-pad insert, which matches the fender vents, roll bar header and wheels.
The energetic, distinctive look carries from front to rear with dual chrome exhaust and polished aluminum exhaust tips featuring carbon-fiber interior sleeves. The large 19-inch, five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels perfect the Soul’ster’s appearance. Regardless of Soul’ster being viewed from front, back or side, it offers innovative perspectives derived from the original Soul.
Once inside, Soul’ster takes even more progressive variations from Soul beginning with the new four-passenger seating design, a diversion from Soul’s five-passenger arrangement, lending spacious versatility for long summer weekends. The surprisingly flexible Soul’ster provides real seating for two in the front with comfortable seating for two more adults in the back.
Adding to the edgy design scheme, the non-floor-mounted cantilevered seats project the illusion of being suspended in space when viewed from the side allowing for increased rear legroom. Storage compartments below each of the fold-flat rear seats, offer room for myriad cargo needs. In addition to the spacious cargo area, dual storage compartments also can be found in the rear and underneath the cargo hold area.
With young buyers in mind, Soul’ster offers an agile, smooth and spirited ride. As with its Soul cousin, Soul’ster’s can be made available with a myriad of engine choices depending upon each market’s needs. A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which produces approximately 120 horsepower.
For those looking for a little more power, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available with either the five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, producing approximately 140 horsepower. Fuel economy for both engines is estimated at 30 or more miles per gallon. Other markets might choose the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 124 horsepower or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel.
Click here for more photos
Kia Cross GT
According to Kia research, the Cross GT Concept the company introduced at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show"takes Kia in a bold new direction that hints at the future of the brand's premium aesthetic in a larger package." Kia is a design-driven company now, as evidenced by a string of products applauded as much for their styling as their sensibility, and though the Cross GT Concept is designed to seat four people, it is longer and wider than Kia's largest crossover SUV, the 7-passenger Sorento According to Kia, "the Cross GT reveals Kia's intentions to potentially offer a larger premium CUV than the current Sorento."
Designed in California, the Kia Cross GT is based on the same vehicle architecture that provided the basis for the automaker's Kia GT Concept sedan in 2011, albeit with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system replacing the Kia GT Concept's rear-drive powertrain layout. The Kia Cross GT is a hybrid SUV, equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and an electric motor integrated between the two. The combined power ratings are 400 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque, and Kia claims the Cross GT can travel 20 miles on electricity alone, indicating that the large crossover SUV concept is a plug-in hybrid model.
To get a sense of how large the Kia Cross GT Concept is, consider the existing Sorento model, Kia's largest crossover SUV. The Cross GT Concept adds 15.7 inches of wheelbase, 8.4 inches of overall length, and 4.9 inches of width. The Cross GT Concept is, however, lower than a Sorento by 1.6 inches. With Fusion Copper paint, the Cross GT Concept is equipped with rear-hinged suicide doors and a clamshell tailgate design.
Kia takes an environmental approach with the Cross GT's interior materials. The leather is tanned with vegetable oil, the fabrics are 100% renewable wool felt, and the wood trim is re-harvested American walnut. Additional cabin details include four leather-wrapped bucket seats designed to appear as though they float, anchored to a center console running the length of the cabin. The Cross GT offers an in-dash touch screen that can be operated using mouse control technology designed to keep the driver's hands on the steering wheel at all times. Flat panel display screens are mounted to the front seat headrests, providing rear passengers with Internet access and entertainment options.
Is the Kia Cross GT Concept a glimpse of a future 7-passenger crossover SUV from Kia? "Our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication. The Cross GT is the next logical step in that evolution. And while only a concept today, it signals one possible design direction we may explore for the future," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications, Kia Motors America.
The Track'ster's basic shape was carried over from the Soul-the front end and sloped roof are vaguely familiar-but much of the rest is unique. The concept rides on a wheelbase that's nearly an inch longer than the Soul's, and its fender flares contribute to an additional five inches of overall width It hides its size increase well; the extra width and lengthened front doors make it appear more compact and sporty than the five-door Soul.
The Track'ster's best angle might be the rear shot, which features two booster-rocket exhaust outlets and taillights that illuminate from behind the hatch's glass. Out front, Kia stuffed a pair of giant LED fog lights into the corners of the equally oversized lower intake. The headlights look like squared-off versions of the current Soul's, and between them is a rather conventional-looking take on Kia's corporate grille. Scoops and vents adorn both sides of the front and rear bumpers, each front fender, and both rocker panels just ahead of the rear wheels. Speaking of, they're custom 19-inch HREs wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 rubber.