A Kia concept car. How exciting!
More exciting than you might suppose. Kia has been riotously successful but freely admits that people only buy its cars because they are cheap and fairly reliable. It wants you to love your Kia too, and in a bid to inject some passion into the brand has hired Peter Schreyer, the man responsible for the Audi TT, as chief designer. He has only been with the Korean firm for four months but the Kue concept he has just unveiled at the Detroit show already hints at Kia's future design direction and previews how the replacement for the excellent Sorento will look. The Kue might not have the impact of the original TT concept, but for a Kia, it's sexy.
So how will future Kias look?
They will all take their cue from the Kue, copying the concept's more dynamic stance with the wheels pushed out to the corners, taut surfacing and lamp details. The production Sorento will, of course, have rear doors, and they won't be scissor-hinged like the Kue's. Nor does the concept's supercharged 4.6-litre V8 with 400bhp stand much chance of being made. The interior, with touch-pad and motion-sensing controls, is pure designer's daydream stuff.
How long do we have to wait?
Perhaps not long. Last year's Detroit concept from Kia was the Soul, named to suggest the Korean capital and Detroit's other claim to fame as the home of Motown label. A small (4 metres long to the Kue's 4.7m) crossover with front-wheel drive and a 2.0-litre engine, it will go into production in 2008 and will almost certainly come to Europe. Both the Soul and Kue were conceived at Kia's design centre in Irvine, California.