The Korean carmaker is attempting to show it knows how to do premium as well as practical with its Geneva Motor Show concept model, the Sportspace.
The car, which the company claims defies traditional classification, is essentially equal parts shooting brake (or wagon), crossover and GT and one conceived for a very specific customer type. Someone busy in the city and on the highway during the week but then who wants to get away from it all -- preferably to the mountains for skiing -- at the weekend.
As such it is designed to transport four in plush luxury along with their luggage and their skis, which will slide perfectly between the rear seats. Yet the way all of this practicality has been packaged is what makes the car stand out. It doesn't look like a traditional estate car, even one with serious sporting pretensions like an Audi S4 Avant for example. Instead it looks like a large hatchback or a four-door coupé.
Since Kia set up a dedicated design studio in Europe the change has been remarkable and now its cars can compete in terms of looks and aesthetics as well as in terms of efficiency or load space with the best that the likes of Ford or VW have to offer.
However, going for such a pronounced and focused concept suggests that Kia wants to be considered in the same breath as Audi or Jaguar.
The Sportspace is anything but a crazily futuristic concept, sharing many elements with Kia's existing vehicle range, such as the tiger-nose grille, ice-cube-shaped LED daytime running lights and its efficient 2-liter turbocharged gasoline direction injection engine generates -- good for 250PS. All of which means that there's a very good chance that something like it could arrive on the forecourt shortly if demand is strong.
Whether or not the brand can take such a significant step up remains to be seen, but the choice of a hybrid GT/wagon as a show car for this year's event also signals that ‘load-lugging' long-distance tourers are coming back into vogue.
At last year's Geneva show, Jaguar unveiled the XFR-S Sportsbrake, which is about blending performance with practicality and at this year's event, Audi's show car, the Prologue Avant is an exercise in how to make an estate car look like a sleek and sporting coupé.