Kia Novo concept (2015): it’s another interesting Kia!

Published: 02 April 2015

► Revealed at Seoul motor show
► Just a concept, not production

► But does preview future designs

Kia concept cars continue to come thick and fast. Here’s the latest: the Kia Novo, a mean, green fastback saloon revealed this week at the 2015 Seoul motor show.

Does the Kia Novo preview a production car?

Short answer is no. Kia says there are no plans to turn the Novo concept into a production reality. It does suggest we’ll see some of its design cues reappear in the near future, however. As the company puts it: ‘Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to concept vehicles that precede them. The Kia Novo concept provides a glimpse into Kia’s plans for its future compact car line-up.’

So remember those vents, feature lines and light graphics: when the next-gen Ceed and co arrive, you saw them here first.

Kia Novo: the design story

The Novo was designed at Kia’s studios in Korea rather than at its European design centre in Frankfurt. It’s built on a modified version of the company’s global C-segment platform, which underpins Ceed, Proceed, Soul et al.

The front overhang’s ruthlessly short and the rear elongated – a coupe hallmark, and the curved roofline is more fastback than hatchback. Pop-out door handles and cameras rather than mirrors keep things help smooth along the sides and at the front there’s another variation on Kia’s current ‘tiger-nose’ grille theme and high-tech laser headlamps, with more lasers within the air intakes.

It’s a four-seater, with occupants perched on individual brown leather chairs with decent space to stretch out thanks to the car’s long body. Those seats had better be comfy, as Kia says the concept’s ‘aimed at modern urbanites with stressful jobs and frantic schedules.’

The dash is angled towards the driver, with a 3D hologram display for the instruments and a ‘blind control’ touchpad next to the wheel. This uses a fingerprint scanner so the driver can change the volume, music tracks and change information displays without taking their eyes from the road. Switches and buttons are so passé. Meanwhile there’s a wider, more conventional touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.

Anything else interesting about the Kia Novo?

It’s got weird tyres. They’re shaped with an ‘adaptive concave’ profile, which means the middle section’s sunken between two contact points, the intended benefit being better channelling of water and improved cooling for the rubber, as well as lower rolling resistance and reduced road noise.

It’s green in colour. Is the powertrain green too?

Not particularly – this is one concept that isn’t a hybrid. Power comes from the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine found in the Ceed/Proceed GT, this time paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Like its Ceed and Soul platform buddies, the Novo is front-wheel-drive.

Production or not, the Novo is another sign that Kia’s design language is getting ever more expressive. Take the 2014 GT Stinger concept, for example, or the 2013 Provo. The company’s days as a purveyor of achingly dull but sensibly high-value white goods really are long-gone now.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer