Kia Koup – What a Concept!

Kia has an image problem. Well, not really. The South Korean automaker is often found in the shadow of Hyundai, the automotive giant which owns a significant chunk of the company. Kia is actually part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, which is based in Seoul and the two automakers share several platforms for various … Continue reading “Kia Koup – What a Concept!”

Kia has an image problem. Well, not really. The South Korean automaker is often found in the shadow of Hyundai, the automotive giant which owns a significant chunk of the company. Kia is actually part of the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, which is based in Seoul and the two automakers share several platforms for various models.

In North America, we’re familiar with the many different economically priced models including the Sorento, Optima, Rio, and Spectra, to name a few. Kia is also big on building concept cars, including the KOUP which made its debut at the 2008 New York International Auto Show.

The KOUP is an attractive sport coupe, reminding me of the Nissan SX cars and including expressive lines you see on today’s iteration of the muscle car. Clearly, if the KOUP comes out as shown (please, toss the name!) it could be a landmark model for Kia.

A 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged engine producing 290 horsepower paired with a GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) twin scroll turbocharger designed to deliver superior power and fuel efficiency. By means of injecting fuel directly into the cylinder under high pressure using the Kia GDI system, the intake charge is cooled and combustion behavior is improved. Improved combustion assures excellent fuel economy and low emissions. Lower grille openings enable additional air intake for extra power. Kia claims that the KOUP delivers torque of 289 lb-ft at a low 2,000 rpm sustained to 4,000 rpm.

Kia says this about the the car: utilizing a FWD unibody frame, coil springs and stabilizer bars complement an independent front suspension featuring MacPherson struts and an independent dual link rear suspension to provide the optimal balance of ride comfort and engine responsiveness. An engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system adds the finishing touch for precise handling. Continuous Damping Control (CDC) for quick movements and sharp turns paired with a sport-tuned, four-wheel independent suspension and strut tower bar offer a tighter grip for more spirited driving.

Will the KOUP go into production? Time will tell, but if the car is produced it could significantly improve Kia’s budget image.

(Source: Kia Motors)

Automotive Concept Cars

Concept cars is a term that the majority of car owners or drivers know nothing about. I had always thought that a concept auto was the clay model that is made for a new car style. That’s nowhere near close, because concept cars are actual real cars built and ready to drive. A concept vehicle is a show car or prototype meant to be driven around to showcase a new concept, style, technology, etc.

Concept vehicles are usually shown at the big motor shows throughout the world. They’re shown to consumers to gauge their reactions to radical design changes or concepts. The idea of the concept or show car was developed by the GM designer Harley Earl. The concept auto is a real car, but it never goes into production directly. It would have to changed for safety, practicality and costs to be a production vehicle instead of just a concept vehicle.

Concept cars have extreme or radical engines, designs, materials, layouts, doors or things not found on production cars. Most concept cars never get past the scale model or computer drawings. A small numbers of concept vehicles are actually fully functional and some can’t even move faster than 10 mph safely. After the concept vehicle is done being used, the cars are usually destroyed but some survive in company museum or in storage. The 1954 concept car Lincoln Futura was in a custom car shop for years until it was used as the Batmobile in the Batman TV series in 1966.

There are some concept cars that are well known for one reason or another. The Buick Y Job was designed in the 1930s by Harley Earl and is considered to be the first concept vehicle. The General Motors Le Sabre built in 1951 introduced the 12 volt electrics and aluminum 215 ci V8. The 1959 Cadillac Cyclone was one of Harley Earl’s last designs. Chevrolet Volt is one of the first plug in hybrid electric vehicle concept cars.

A concept vehicle that I would never want to see in production is the Ford Nucleon, a nuclear powered car. MIT worked with Frank Gehry to develop the MIT Car concept vehicle. Pontiac’s Bonneville Special was Pontiac’s first two seater sports car and debuted in the 1954 Motorama. Another Pontiac is the Club de Mer an all stainless steel sportscar from 1956. The Lancia Megagamma was the prototype for the current minivan. Volvo’s YCC was the first car designed entirely by women.