With a grill that could be described almost as a grin, the concept Kia Kee has been making the rounds at various International auto shows. It certainly is a departure from anything Kia currently produces. According to Kia the “face” of this car will be the new style design in future models. The sports coupe is named “Kee” for a couple of reasons. “Ki” means lifeforce in Korean and the success of this vehicle is “key” to Kia’s success.
The most striking initial feature of the KEE is its headlamps and use of LED lighting on the front. Kia, like other Asian automakers, has suffered from an identity crisis and is desperately trying to find a definitive style in which to be identified with. Whether this lighting treatment makes it to production or not, the design is certainly distinctive. Although concepts often bear little resemblance to production vehicles, Kia says it intends to stay true to the concept and also deliver a realistic sports coupe based on real world needs. Therefore the 2+2 configuration has been utilized which offers the flexibility of 4 passengers, though realistically only in a pinch. Like most cars built as a 2+2, the rear seat area is best left to shopping bags or kids. The car also features a hatchback to allow cargo to be easily moved in and out.
The 2.7-liter V6 engine produces 197 horsepower and is managed by steering wheel paddles to shift the six-speed semi-automatic sequential transmission. Inside the cabin the KEE has other unique elements. An unusually-designed lever sits atop the aluminum center console and requires only a nudge forward or backward to select the desired drive mode and the top of the computer mouse-like lever flips up to reveal the electronic starter button.
The vehicle as a whole makes use of light-weight aluminium and plastic components whenever possible to keep weight low and help deliver real performance to accompany its aggressive styling.
It will be interesting to see if the look of this car is a hit with buyers or not. If it is, it will give Kia something to smile about.