New Kia Imagine: an electric car that defies categorisation

The Kia Imagine is an electric SUV that reveals Kia's exciting new design direction

Kia Imagine conceptKia has unveiled its ground-breaking Imagine concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

It’s an electric car, but not like we’ve seen before from the Korean marque. Not that the Soul EV or e-Niro are particularly derivative – but the Imagine deliberately breaks the mould.

A category buster

Just look at it. Is it a crossover? Is it a saloon? Is it an SUV? Much like the Polestar 2 EV,  the Imagine borrows the handsome, chiselled proportions of a sporting car for an SUV-addicted audience.

Kia Imagine concept

“It’s a large C-segment car – the vehicle size that’s incredibly popular in Europe – but the only things it holds on to are Kia’s brand values,” explains Gregory Guillaume, vice president of design for Kia Europe.

“It hints at something familiar, but is something entirely new. I think of it as a category-buster, and a disruptor – it’s familiar and understood but at the same time progressive and new.”

A category buster, you say? Sounds good to us. if you’re re-inventing powertrains, why not reinvent cars altogether? The Imagine could potentially re-invent Kia, too. The styling at the front including the ‘suspended lights’ and ‘tiger mask’ are the possible future corporate face for the marque’s electric cars.

Kia Imagine concept

“The inspiration for the ‘tiger mask’ was to create the look and feel of the headlamps being suspended within a transparent block of glass,” explains Guillaume. “This identifiable lighting signature could potentially be deployed as a unifying design element across Kia’s future electric vehicle range.”

Underneath the distinctive skin is a ‘low-mounted induction-charged battery pack, powering a compact drivetrain’. There’s no word yet on what range that provides, but suffice to say it’ll top the current e-Niro’s 300-plus miles.

Helping the Imagine on its way is a smooth, aerodynamic design. “The front air curtain, the way the double-skin bonnet channels air through the nose, up and over the front screen and roof, the double skinned C-pillar that creates an air spoiler, the completely enclosed underbody, the wind-cheating ‘wingcams’ and the hard-edged break-away around the car’s rear – all these features collectively boost aerodynamic efficiency and reduce turbulence and drag,” Guillaume says.

Kia Imagine concept

Completing the look on the outside are standard-issue concept car wheels – a massive 22 inches in diameter.

A cabin with “a twinkle in its eye”

Inside, Kia wanted this concept to have a sense of humour: a “twinkle in its eye”.

That wrap-around wall of displays for instance, is Kia biting its thumb at the stuffy attitude the industry has to screens, and how they’ve more or less remained stubbornly fixed to centre consoles for 20 years or more.

Kia Imagine concept

“These 21 incredibly thin screens are a humorous and irreverent riposte to the ongoing competition between some automotive manufacturers to see who can produce the car with the biggest screen,” said Ralph Kluge, Kia Motors Europe’s general manager of interior design.

Imagine is clearly an important car for Kia, with those responsible for bringing it to life being proud of their leftfield creation. It’s a statement of intent, that the marque intends to diversify the EV marketplace with a strong, appealing and quirky range of cars in the coming years.

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