The Mercedes GLC Coupe and BMW X4 have finally gotten under Korea’s skin.
As of late, Germany has been pretty skillful at predicting the automotive trends that designers end up chasing years down the line. The four-door coupe and coupe-ified SUV are two such body styles, and evidence that the trend will further proliferate before it either becomes accepted as the norm or dies out entirely, is the Imagine by Kia Concept (not the Kia Imagine Concept) that debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Much like the Mercedes GLC Coupe or the BMW X4, the Imagine By Kia Concept has a coupe-like roofline descending onto a fastback rear end that doubles as a hatchback lid. The only thing making the four-door concept an SUV rather than a fastback sedan or a mild wagon is its ride height.
But it’s one thing for a carmaker to design a concept car and allude to what its design team has in mind for the future. It’s another thing entirely to build that car, which is what Kia plans to do, according to an interview Auto Express conducted with the brand's chief designer, Luc Donkerwolke.
Donkerwolke thinks that the resulting SUV/Coupe could evolve to become Kia’s "emotional flagship” vehicle, since the Stinger and K900 appeal to more niche customers and don’t aim to sway the masses, while the Telluride targets the more practical consumer. "I believe we will see a completely new diversification of typologies,” said Donkerwolke. "This car hybridizes between a typical fastback five-door coupe architecture and an SUV. Finding its own identity.”
What may come as less of a surprise is that the real-life incarnation of the Imagine By Kia will ride on a new all-electric platform that Kia is currently working on. The Korean automaker hasn’t really given out any details regarding the technology behind it - like expected range, battery size, or performance - but we should certainly expect the platform to migrate over to Kia’s corporate cousin, Hyundai, in the same way the Kia Telluride is the basis for the Hyundai Palisade.
Kia’s design lead didn’t give out a concrete timeline for when we could expect a production version of the electric SUV, but he did mention that work is already underway. "We are imagining it. We are creating it as we speak. This is the start of a process, but you will see soon the result,” said Donkerwolke. "It’s not a free exercise. It’s not just a last-minute car for Geneva. It has a purpose. This is more business than show. We are definitely not entertaining here, but actually communicating with our customers.” If you’re a fan of the car or the idea of an electric Kia platform, then rest happy knowing you'll see it again, since Donkerwolke claims the brand will have more show cars based on the platform out by year's end.