Kia has unveiled its first coupe SUV but you won’t be able to buy it, as it’s a concept – at least for now.
It’s called the Futuron and it explores a new design direction for the Korean brand’s future electric vehicles. As the name suggests and the photos attest, this is a futuristic concept we won’t see on our streets any time soon. However, the Futuron envisions a “progressive electric SUV coupe” from the Kia brand which should eventually go into production.
The exterior design is obviously the most striking thing about this concept, which debuts today at the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. Merging elegant proportions with clean shapes and surfaces, the Futuron introduces a new interpretation of the “tiger nose” grille which. Much wider, the grille now incorporates the headlamps featuring a “Star Cloud” design on a Dragon Skin surface inspired by Chinese mythology.
Taking inspiration from nebulae in the night sky, according to the press release, the headlights consist of a geometric patchwork of matrix LEDs that are echoed at the back by similar LED taillights. We’ve seen something quite similar in the teaser photos of the facelifted Hyundai Grandeur.
The vehicle’s proportions are equally striking, with the low-profile SUV coupe body contrasting with the elevated ground clearance. The Futuron Concept is 4,850 mm (190.9-in) long, 1,550 mm (61-in) high and features a generous 3,000 mm (118.1-in) wheelbase.
The concept features an unusual roof, namely a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse sitting atop a 360-degree core inspired by “UFO and flying saucer design.” The roof extends down the bonnet to give drivers an unparalleled view ahead and also incorporates a network of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors capable of providing Level 4 autonomous driving features.
The vehicle’s dramatic shape is made possible by the fully-electric powertrain underneath. A high-capacity battery is mounted low in the body beneath the cabin floor, providing energy to four powerful in-wheel electric motors. This results in a low center of gravity and an e-AWD system which is said to deliver “lightning-fast responses to driver inputs.”
The self-driving capabilities of the Kia Futuron Concept are reflected in the design of the spacious and flexible interior. The two front seats are made of flexible materials and can offer an upright “driving” position, or a reclined “rest” position. When the self-driving mode is engaged, the front seats recline as the steering wheel retracts.
The Star Cloud lighting and scaled Dragon Skin motif on the doors create a connection to the exterior, with the ventilation system being housed behind Dragon Skin scales as well. Another striking interior element is the cockpit area surrounding the driver which features a graphical user interface (GUI) flowing out of the driver-side door and wrapping around the steering wheel in a seamless arc. This effectively merges the instrument cluster directly with the audio-visual display at the center of the dashboard.