Sports coupe enthusiasts know instinctively when a car is right – shape, proportion, stance and both tactile and emotional aspects all add up to a car that stirs the blood. At the Frankfurt Show today, Kia is revealing just such a car. No one could mistake the purpose of Kee – it is a sports coupe pure and simple, designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.
Yet Kee is more than just a svelte, exciting sports coupe concept. It is also the dawn of a new design language for the Kia brand – a language that will speak to motorists around the globe about the Korean company¡¯s intention to become one of the world¡¯s major automotive names over the coming years.
Kia’s Frankfurt-based design team, headed by Gregory Guillaume, set out to make Kee a landmark car in Kia’s history. It is no coincidence that its name plays on the word Kee because that is how essential Kee is to the future of Kia. Kee also acknowledges the Chinese and Korean word ¢¥Ki` – the cultural concept for life-force or spiritual energy.
Uncluttered, pure and timeless in execution yet modern, effective and usable in purpose, Kee represents a new ethos for Kia and is not simply a flight of design fancy. With Kee the entire design team is laying open its mind and its heart. This car stands as a clear indication of Kia¡¯s design philosophy, an indication of how Kia wishes to be viewed – exciting, appealing, creative, aspirational, with products that are beautiful and yet functional, purposeful and realistic.
This car is about passion and energy. It is both the present and the future – something that could be built now or in the future. It will influence every Kia to come and will deliver to existing and new customers a realization that Kia is a company that embraces the future – rushes headlong to meet it and wants to build magnificent cars for very important people – our customers!
With its broad stance and low profile, Kee is a new interpretation of the 2+2 coupe, with a simple yet distinctive outline thanks to its long sweeping bonnet, slightly lengthened cabin with striking graphic treatment, sculpted flanks and strong swage lines.
Beneath the powerful and unique appearance are a host of fine details all hinting at the car¡¯s true purpose and harmonising to create a sophisticated design entity. Whether it is the milled aluminium B-pillar visible through the panoramic grey-tinted glass, the distinctively individual 20-inch wheels and hand-cut Continental tyres or the small touches such as the electronic micro-switch door release set into the side-window glass, the clamshell rear hatch opening supported by electronic dampers or the unique front windscreen shape that mirrors so many other details on the Kee, it is clear that this car has been lovingly created by people who care about design.
Kee lays down very clear indications of how future Kia vehicles should look and displays elements that its creators will transfer to future Kia products. Presented as part of the strong frontal design with its distinctive headlamps and eye-catching LED cluster, the new style grille will become the new ¡®face of Kia¡¯ across our product range.
This new concept car is our starting point. Kee shows how we think and what we want to do to appeal to the emotional side of our audience and bring that balance of purpose and emotion into the Kia design language. With Kee we are irrevocably heading off along our chosen path¡¦
Inside, Kee looks and feels like a true sports car in which the keen driver will instantly feel comfortable and at ease. The cabin is designed for maximum focus on driving. Clustered directly ahead of the driver, the main dials and controls are simple and straightforward, utilising Kia¡¯s new standard red-orange illumination.
Behind the square-bottomed steering wheel are paddles to shift the six-speed semi-automatic sequential gearbox. Instead of a standard gear stick an ergonomically designed lever sits atop the milled aluminium centre 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.
All the main interior surfaces are covered in semi-suede microfibre materials and the body-hugging sports seats use a hard-wearing but distinctive metallic-finish silver cloth. And continuing the real-life functionality of Kee, the rear of the 2+2 cabin is sufficiently spacious to allow two adult passengers to travel on individual seats in the back of the vehicle whenever necessary.
The design team has concentrated on producing a realistic sports coupe. Every element of its design is clear, easy to understand and to use. All the main controls are fly-by wire, but their feel in operation has been created to deliver a sense of traditional operation. For example, the toggle switches mounted on the dashboard – echoing the DNA of generations of sports cars – let you navigate intuitively through the interface menu of the info-media center.
Perhaps most importantly Kee is a simple corporate statement to the motoring world that Kia is a brand underpinned with quality and reliability and now on top of that comes the emotional element of distinctive design. The future for Kia products lies in balance, clarity and purpose, and Kee, our latest show car embodies that philosophy. The Kee represents an affordable dream for sports car lovers.