About a month ago, Kia previewed its Geneva-bound compact concept car. We thought it was intended to be a Nissan Juke competitor. We were wrong.
But even better, it’s an all-wheel-drive hybrid sports coupe, which Kia says shows off the evolved look of the brand and could foreshadow an upcoming model in the automaker’s portfolio.
Called the Kia Provo, the little hatchback comes powered by a familiar turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that can be found in the Hyundai Veloster and upcoming Kia Forte 5-door. It makes 204 horsepower and comes paired to a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. But it has a party piece by way of an electric motor powering the rear wheels to give them as much as an extra 45 horsepower. The smart-4WD, as Kia calls it, can help with both handling traction on a twisty patch of tarmac or can activate only the rear wheels to be used in low-speed conditions, helping bolster fuel economy.
Other cool features include the headlights, which are made of some 850 tiny LED lights that can be used as headlights, running lights, high beams, or can display images. We’d use them to display the running message “Stop left-lane camping.”
Kia says the interior of the Provo is a business-like environment, colored in black with blood-orange contrast coloring, to downplay distractions. instrument displays are large, and the gear selector has been made into a tiny knob to free up space within the interior; steering wheel-mounted paddles help with DIY shifting duties, and most information is displayed in a toggle-style selector on the center information screen.
The automaker says it “remains committed to delivering desirable, dynamic, and stunningly attractive vehicles that will deliver affordable enjoyment to real, everyday motorists. The Provo could be just such a car.”
The upshot to you: Don’t be surprised if the Kia Provo makes it to production. Be less surprised if it doesn’t make it to the U.S.–”This is entirely a car for European tastes and conditions,” says European chief designer Gregory Guillaume, in a statement. But expect some of the technology to find its way to a car you can buy sometime in the next few years.