by Nick Hull
Kia Motors Corporation unveiled its latest concept car at the Paris Motor Show the KCV-II. Designed as a crossover vehicle that mixes pick-up practicality with SUV toughness and a coupe-like interior, the new KCV-II showcases the direction that Kia may be heading in terms of styling and technology.
First impressions of the KCV-II show a very curvaceous body, which is much more flowing than conventional SUVs or pick-ups and a pronounced wedge profile. According to KIA, this aims to give it the feel of a softer, European hatchback or saloon. Kia hopes the KCV-II will appeal to female car buyers.
"We have created the car to European proportions," says designer Carlos Arroyo, "and picked-up elements from motorcycles, furniture design, architecture and consumer products to make a fusion of different design elements. Arroyos concept was picked from an in-house competition held amongst staff at Kias new European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany. A multinational team of designers under Jay Baek, chief of the design centre, and Peter Arcardipane, chief designer, pushed the concept to reality.
We identified the Bobo generation as our target audience for the KCV-II, says Jay Baek, that stands for bourgeois bohemians. He adds: These are people who are economically bourgeois, but spiritually bohemians a sort of mixture of 1960s hippies and 1980s yuppies.
The aluminium surf wave band running around the car is the most striking feature. Starting beneath the reptile-like head lamps, it runs up and along the flanks of the car, becoming the guardrail of the pick-up bed before finally turning down into the rear bumper. There are some unusual juxtapositions of soft and hard forms as one moves around the car, such as the softly sculpted bonnet sitting above the sharp-edged detailing in the front bumper and front wheel arch or the soft curve of the rear wheel arch flowing into the straight graphics in the tailboard.
Entered via butterfly-type front doors, the interior features a novel semi-cabriolet rear seat design. The rear glass screen hinges upwards so that when the rear seats are reclined, the passengers are partly exposed to the elements. The backs of the rear seats fold forward to open up the load bay to become a generous luggage carrier capable of carrying two mountain bikes.
All interior parts are detailed with carefully chosen finishes inspired by the precision-milled surfaces of machinery like cameras, stereo equipment and motorcycles. The flowing sports seats are mounted on machined-alloy bases inspired by the design of the superluxury Oracle 2500 stereo system.
Overall, the aim to mix car concepts and styles results in a somewhat confused message. Also the European feel is unclear. Think of new Megane versus old, Stilo versus Bravo, Enzo versus F50 European cars are becoming much more linear, with very controlled body sections and quite geometric graphics. On this basis the new KCV-II seems closer to California or Seoul than Europe.
Page 18 of 18