The Future, by Kia: 'Imagine by Kia' EV Concept Bows in Geneva, Carries Familiar Baggage
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.
Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.
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