Kia seems really keen on changing their perceived image, and now that they've moved away from their 'bargain-basement' roots, and more into premium territory, they have realized that there's still a long way to go before they can actually match the brand image of their established mainstream rivals.
The brand lacks sporty pedigree, and that's exactly what they've set out to change. First we recieved the Cee'd and Pro_Cee'D GT versions, which will inject a dose of much needed excitement into the Kia name.
They will also make each and every car in the range seem more appealing, even though the regular cars they sell are not really sporty in any way – it is a trick pulled off by large automakers like BMW, with their M division, Mercedes-Benz and AMG or Renault with their sporty RS branch.
However, they want to push it one step further with the Provo concept, which is an all-wheel drive, 246hp turbocharged hybrid concept they will be showing at the Geneva International Motor Show this week.
As the official press release states, the Provo "hints at a potential future B-segment vehicle" - a smaller Kia version of the asymmetrical Hyundai Veloster.
The concept features the same 201 hp (204 PS) 1.6-liter T-GDi engine found under the bonnet of the hot Cee'ds that drives the front wheels. It is complimented by a 45hp electric motor that sends its power to the rear wheels, giving the car an extra surge of power when needed, or offering emissions-free motoring for short distances, in city driving.
It also features a dual-clutch DCT gearbox, which has seven gears for the driver to play with – this seems to be the norm, as other automakers are offering as many as nine gears.
However, aside from the technical details, the Kia Provo concept is a standout example of automotive design, and if they don't tone it down too much in its transition from concept to production, then the competition should start to worry.
By Andrei Nedelea