Kia’s bionic-looking electric concept car packs a 21-screen infotainment system

Kia is looking to make a splash at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show by unveiling a head-turning electric concept named Imagine. The car surfs some of the biggest waves sweeping across the automotive industry while poking fun at one of the biggest trends in car design.

“Automotive design is about capturing the heart and making it beat that bit faster for that bit longer — and we believe that there’s absolutely no reason why that should change simply because the car is electric,” Gregory Guillaume, the vice president of design for Kia Europe, said in a statement.

The South Korean firm called the Imagine a visual embodiment of its desire to move forward in the exciting world of electrification. Unlike Kia’s existing electric cars, the e-Niro and the e-Soul, the concept is based on a platform developed solely to underpin battery-powered models. It blends SUV, crossover, and sedan styling cues to purposely blur the lines that separate traditional market segments. The end result resembles a tall sedan with a fastback-like roofline, and a bionic stare that sets it apart from other members of the Kia family.

Rear-facing cameras replace the door mirrors, and the design study inaugurates a more stylized version of the Kia logo. It’s backlit, which has become the new norm on the auto show circuit. Designers also gave the Imagine massive, 22-inch alloy wheels, and they crafted the windshield and the panoramic roof from a single piece of glass. It’s as futuristic as its name suggests. The interior is far wilder than the exterior, though.

Kia arranged 21 individual, high-resolution screens onto the dashboard to display information about the car and its surroundings. They replace the single (or, sometimes, double) infotainment screen normally found on a car’s dashboard. Why 21? It’s a joke; Kia calls the feature “a humorous riposte to the industry’s current obsession with ever-increasing dashboard screens.” We think Kia is looking at you, Byton.

In Geneva, the screens showed images of previous Kia concept cars to illustrate how far the company’s design has come in recent years. We wonder where we’d put a phone mount if we had to drive the Imagine from coast to coast.

Kia chose to keep technical specifications under wraps. All we know is that inductive charging technology sends the power cord the way of the carburetor. Similarly, it’s too early to tell what the future holds for Kia’s Imagine concept.

The company promised to launch more electric cars in the coming years, so the design study could accurately preview an upcoming addition to its battery-powered portfolio. However, we’re not ruling out the possibility that it’s a design-led model built only to show the direction stylists will take the brand in. If that’s the case, it will most likely never see the inside of a showroom. One thing is for sure: Don’t expect Kia to approve its 21-screen infotainment system for production anytime soon.

Updated on March 5, 2019: Added full information about the Imagine.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz fires its first salvo in the luxury electrification war

The EQC is Mercedes-Benz's answer to the Tesla threat, bringing performance, tech features, and luxury to the growing electric SUV segment. We headed to Norway, the electric car capital of the world, to get a taste of it.

The recently revealed McLaren GT is a road trip-ready supercar

This is the first-ever McLaren built exclusively for the road and not the racetrack.

Hyundai invests $90M in Croatian startup Rimac to build an electric super-hatch

Croatian startup Rimac is attracting the attention and money of big-name automakers. After taking an investment from Porsche, it has announced it will help Hyundai develop an electric super-hatch and a high-performance hydrogen-powered car.

This futuristic concept car shows how Citroen envisions road-tripping in 2119

Paris-based Citroen is celebrating its 100th birthday by looking at what the next 100 years have in store. The company unveiled a concept car named 19_19 that explores how road-tripping might change in the coming decades.

Tesla’s recent Model S fires prompt the company to update its battery software

Following three Model S incidents where the cars caught fire while parked, Tesla has started pushing out an update for Model S and Model X batteries to improve their safety. The company is still investigating the cause of the fires.

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra keeps an eye on the road even if you’re not looking

Hyundai has again updated the Elantra, one of its most popular and most affordable models. For the 2020 model year, the Elantra receives standard driving aids like lane-keeping assist and forward collision warning.

Six advanced tech features that make off-road driving easy

It wasn’t too long ago that driving off-road required serious skills and a lot of equipment. Thanks to technology, any family crossover SUV can hit the trail today and have a good chance of coming back in one piece.
Product Review

The 2019 Ford Mustang GT 350 finally has the grip to (almost) tame its V8

Four years after its debut, the standard GT350 finally gets the suspension and tire package it always needed. While evolutionary rather than revolutionary, Ford’s update takes the Shelby’s track prowess and fun factor to a new level.

Lamborghini’s ST-X will likely spawn a super-Urus with the soul of a race car

Lamborghini is taking the Urus racing in 2020. The racing version will be lighter than the production model it's based on, and we expect it will be a good deal quicker. It is also trickling into a performance version of the Urus.

Volvo’s new app walks you through what to do after an accident

Volvo's Accident Advisor sends information on what to do after an accident directly to a driver's smartphone. Drivers can also use it to notify their insurance companies and find a repair shop.

Aston Martin will revive James Bond’s DB5 at a price only Goldfinger can afford

Aston Martin will build 25 new versions of the DB5 from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, complete with gadgets. These "continuation cars" will cost millions of dollars, but won't be road legal.

Hyundai wants to make sure you’re seeing the outside world, not inhaling it

Hyundai is developing an intelligent air purification system for its cars that continuously monitors the quality of the air inside the cabin, and cleans it when it detects the presence of harmful particulates.

Nissan claims its upgraded ProPilot system enables hands-off highway driving

Nissan is launching a new version of its ProPilot Assist system that's much smarter than the current version. It can handle acceleration, braking, and steering on highways, while using a camera to ensure the driver doesn't fall asleep.

2020 GMC Sierra sees a bunch of updates, including adaptive cruise

GMC announced updates to its 2020 GMC Sierra pickup truck, including much-needed adaptive cruise control, a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine option, improved towing cameras, and expanded availability of the 10-speed automatic transmission.