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All-new Kia Imagine: Think of a different four-door battery car

  • Kia’s first pure-electric four-door car
  • Shows ‘a desire to move into electrification’
  • Features a bold new illuminated ‘tiger mask
2019 KIA ELECTRIC pos 1
2019 KIA ELECTRIC:  The name – ‘Imagine by Kia’ – might be a little long-winded but who cares – this is perhaps the most beautiful car at the 2019 Geneva auto show. Image: Kia Motors

GENEVA, Switzerland – Kia Motors has revealed an all-electric concept car, perhaps rather over-badged as the ‘Imagine by Kia’, at the 2019 Geneva auto show.

Gregory Guillaume, Design VP with Kia Motors Europe, told The Corner in a media release: “Our all-electric concept is designed not only to get your pulse racing but to also signpost our holistic and emotional approach to electrification.

SIX MORE images at the end of the feature.

“People have many questions about electric cars – range, recharging network, whether electric cars will be dynamic and engaging to drive. So we knew that the best way to answer those questions and address concerns was by approaching electrification purely from an emotional point of view.”

2019 KIA ELECTRIC pos 1
2019 KIA ELECTRIC:  The seats might not look very comfortable but their ergonomic design says otherwise. And, on the facia, what looks like a cascade of CD packs is actually a series of 21 screens that, from the driver’s point of view,  creates the biggest info display yet in a car. Image: Kia Motors

He pointed out that, when many automakers talk about electric cars,  they use rational and data-driven messages – as they do with liquid-fuel vehicles. Kia, he said, has ”focused on being emotional,  more human”.

Kia describes the new car as a cross between sport utility vehicle, an ”athletic” family sedan, and ”a versatile and spacious crossover that doesn’t sit with current industry-defined vehicle categories.

READ MORE Geneva auto show features here

“It’s a large C-segment car – the only things it holds on to are Kia’s brand values,” Guillaume said. “It hints at the familiar but is entirely new –  a category-buster.”

The long-time identifier, the ‘tiger nose’ grille, has morphed horizontally into what Kia has tagged as ”a tiger mask’ that spreads to enbrace the headlights. ”The effect is to create a pair of piercing eyes floating free of visible support,” Kia explained. ”It creates a distinctive and recognisable lighting motif.”

DIAMOND FINISH: The Kia 22'' wheels on the Imagine showcar at Geneva 2019 each has four diamond-like insert in each wheel. Image: Kia Motors
DIAMOND FINISH: Each one of the 22” wheels on the Kia Imagine show car has four diamond-like inserts. Image: Kia Motors

It might be found on future Kia battery cars.

The finish is special, tool. The cars will be finished with six hand-applied layers of chrome-effect silver paint covered by a bronze tint – the whole said to be ”highly sensitive to changing light conditions”.

One curved glass sheet is used for the windscreen and roof – a sort of sky window, Kia explains.

READ MORE Kia features on Carman’s Corner

Guillaume again: ”The lighting systems play a key role in underlining the concept car’s friendliness and accessibility. Kia script on the front of the concept up glows as the driver approaches, followed by the illuminated tiger mask – a welcoming gesture to the driver at the start of a journey.”

EVEN IN GREY IT LOOKS GREAT:  For years the defining motif on Kia products has been its ”tiger’s nose” headlights. Those on the Kia Imagine have morphed into a tiger’s-eye mask.  Image: Kia Motors

Even the 22” wheels are unique: each has four transparent acrylic glass inserts, polished at the front and diamond cross-cut at the back, to reflect and refract light, ”much,” Kia says, ”like a cut diamond as the wheels rotate. They will be shod with Goodyear 255/35 R22 Intelligrip EV concept tyres.

Kia has also experimented with the cabin. Ralph Kluge, Kia Motors Europe’s cabin design boss, explained: “We wanted the interior to have a twinkle, to have surprising, amusing and engaging touches.”

The electric power train maximised cabin space: the result, Kia says, ”has created an airy and spacious interior – one with a wry sense of humour.”

HIGH-RES SCREEN CASCADE

Twenty-one individual ultra high-resolution screens curve in a synchronised way across the top of the facia. Kluge explains: “The 21 incredibly thin 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.”

The feature is, however, said to be ”highly functional”. From the driver’s viewpoint, it makes a single display without the ever-increasing size and rigidity of in-car displays. ”It’s a fresh and witty approach to moving away from fixed screens.

“It delivers information on the car’s aircon, bird’s-eye satnav, and drive and media systems as well as Kia concepts from years gone by, present, and future,” says Kluge. “With this arresting combination of artistry and information we’re drawing on memories of our past in a car that’s heading straight into our future.”

GIANT ACCESS THROUGH SPECIAL DOORS

Event the seats are special – upholstered with leather and silk. Kluge explained: ”The cabin’s sense of light-heartedness is underpinned by the striking shockwave design of the seats. Their diamond cross-cut shells look slim and lightt but are incredibly strong and robust, comfortable, and supportive.”

The floating centre console hovers independently above the low and flat floor. The rear doors are rear-hinged and covered with a metallic fabric and leather to emphasise upper and lower levels., visually splitting the cabin into two distinct upper and lower levels.

Space-saving battery propulsion allows not only larger cabins but also luggage space. The Imagine has two ”boots” a ‘frunk’ (Kia’s little joke!) and a normal rear boot.

Guillaume has the last word: “It’s time to free your imagination, to stop wondering, to start driving!”

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