The Future, by Kia: 'Imagine by Kia' EV Concept Bows in Geneva, Carries Familiar Baggage

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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the future by kia imagine by kia ev concept bows in geneva carries familiar

Kia’s much-teased EV concept turned out to be less attractive and more serious than we initially assumed. Following an announcement suggesting the vehicle’s wild arrangement of 21 interior screens was a humorous jab at industry trends, the automaker officially debuted the car at the Geneva Motor Show. Styled at the company’s European design centre in Frankfurt, the “Imagine by Kia” concept manifested into a slightly puffy crossover serving as an exercise in design.

In the end, Imagine is guilty of some of the show car sins Kia seemed to be railing against. For starters, it uses a single sheet of glass for the windscreen and roof, features rear-hinged doors at the back, rides on bespoke Goodyear tires, and hosts the ever-popular menagerie of interior displays.

This all adds up to a billboard for features you’re not likely to find on any subsequent Kia — at least not in the foreseeable future. Officially, the automaker says the Imagine “represents a more progressive Kia design language for the future.” It also says it’s not a crossover; rather, it’s the joining of a muscular utility vehicle and an athletic family sedan “designed to not sit within the industry’s predefined vehicle categories.”

Which sounds at lot like a crossover.

“We imagined designing an all-electric car that not only answered consumer concerns around range, performance, recharging networks and driving dynamism, but one that also gave you goose bumps when you looked at it, and made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you drove it,” explained Gregory Guillaume, Vice President of Design for Kia Motors Europe, “That’s why our all-electric concept is designed to not only get your pulse racing, but to also signpost our holistic and emotional approach to electrification.”

Beyond contributing to an open interior layout, we’re not sure how electrification is telegraphed through the vehicle’s design. It’s unfortunate, because Kia’s playful joke about the industry’s obsession with interactive screens turned out to be affixed to a car that still takes itself a little too seriously. It almost feels like mentioning the angled, multi-screen display as a joke was an afterthought to avoid someone else bringing up how utterly ridiculous it is. And it is ridiculous, though it also happens to be one of the most visually appealing and clearly realized aspects of the car.

While the minimalist interior is fine for a concept vehicle, the exterior gives off a sense of pure confusion. We can see elements of modern-day models though the tiger grille illumination and Stinger-inspired tail lamps intermingling with its confused identity.

Every strong styling choice is muddled by the Imagine’s bloated bodywork. There are interesting little creases everywhere, the kind that you’d expect to find on a sporting vehicle, but they’re lost in the vehicle’s overall shape. It’s like encountering a professional bodybuilder decades after they’ve retired — the musculature is gone and there’s just enough leftover definition to subtly hint at their former glory.

As for what powers Kia’s concept, the company didn’t say much — and any answer given would be pointless, as this is a concept vehicle without any pathway to production. Despite being designated as an EV, helping to promote the other e-cars Kia brought to the Geneva Motor Show, the Imagine is both figuratively and literally powered by human creativity.

[Images: Kia]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Jatz Jatz on Mar 06, 2019

    Only eight year-olds and Yanomami could fit inside concept cars of the past 10 years.

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    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Mar 07, 2019

      @forward_look I live in NM but still haven't been to the Trinity site down south. It's on my bucket list but there's only 2 days a year they take visitors there due to the radiation.

  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Mar 06, 2019

    What feature makes this a "crossover" and not a fastback or hatchback sedan? The "stratospheric" ground clearance? Automotive segment boundaries have been so compromised that they're mangled beyond recognition. Maybe number of wheels, doors, ranges of curb weights would be more definitive.

  • Felipe Will it have the front bumper of the 1986 Ford Taurus?
  • Analoggrotto But not the Kia EV9 which exceeds all expectations, has won dozens of EUROPEAN industry awards and has thousands of pre orders. Just waiting for those ATPs to roll in so I can post about them here.
  • Funky D Wholeheartedly agree that the Patriot was a total automotive abomination. I drove a rental from Florida to Tennessee and it was a brutal ride. The undersized engine simply wheezed and huffed without any heft whatsoever. The tiny 13-gallon fuel tank was just ridiculous on that size vehicle! It was so bad that I had to peel myself out of the thing when we reached our destination. Made a RAV4 feel absolutely cavernous by comparison!Never drove a Renegade but I have no problem taking your collective description of it at face value.
  • Wolfwagen This is really sketchy. He bought the car from a Guy in PA and had it shipped to Utah and Louisiana but it still has the PA plate on it? Racing harness and removable steering wheel? Blew up the tranny? OF COURSE IT WAS RACED!
  • El scotto William Clay (Billy) Ford likes Mustangs. However, I think Ford only offers V-8s in Mustangs and F series trucks.I could see Ford just offering V-8s in Superduty trucks and Mustang GTs. Ecoboost for the rest of you!With all that said, I could see an all-electric Shelby Super Snake putting out 1966 BHP through all four wheels. The fastest Mustang evah!