Kia pulled double duty this week, unveiling the 2016 Optima at the 2015 New York Auto Show, and a new concept car at its home-market Seoul Motor Show.
The Kia Novo concept previews the Korean carmaker’s future design direction, and hints at a possible upscale four-door coupe that would be decidedly out of character for the budget-conscious brand.
Based on the Forte platform, the Novo is a four-door car, but with a low roofline and short front and rear overhangs to give it a sportier look.
The front end looks like an evolved version of what we just saw on the 2016 Optima, with Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, flanked by very slim headlights, and a pair of muscular air intakes.
The suicide doors are a cool feature that adds a classy touch, but the Range Rover-like side gills look a little out of place.
The interior is fairly minimal, with most of the secondary controls operated by a “blind control” touch pad, which is designed for the driver to use without taking his or her eyes off the road.
It also features a fingerprint scanner, which can automatically call up presets for audio and the touchscreen information display for individual drivers.
The powertrain consists of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
There’s nothing too radical about that, but the Novo also features novel “adaptive concave profile tires.” They have a sunken section in the middle of the tread, which Kia says helps channel water away and improves grip.
Kia has no plans to put the Novo into production, but don’t be surprised if some of its styling elements make it onto future production models, particularly the next Forte.
The concept’s four-door coupe body style also provides a further hint that Kia is considering a more upscale model.
There have been multiple reports that Kia will build a rear-wheel drive model based on the GT concept from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as both a counterpart to the K900 sedan and a budget alternative to the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and other cars of its ilk.
While the Novo is a small, front-wheel drive car, it shows a possible design direction for that model.
Kia’s styling has been updated since the GT was first shown; a production four-door coupe would probably need to incorporate some elements from the Novo to fit in with the company’s upcoming lineup.