Kia makes the station wagon look good with Sportspace concept

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"A concept that has extracting the maximum from life at its heart" (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

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After previewing the intriguing Sportspace concept last month, Kia has tugged the cloth to the ground, turned the bright lights on and put the details in writing. The concept car houses a punchy but efficient turbo powertrain in a body that finds a comfortable niche between shooting brake and full-sized wagon. In other words, it's a sports car with space, a Sportspace.

“Kia does not have a wagon in this important segment of the European market, but I was determined that we would not simply create something that conformed to tradition," says Kia's European design chief Gregory Guillaume. "This car comes from an ambition I had when I was studying design in Switzerland as a young man. I always had this picture in my mind of creating a vehicle that I could have used to go for a weekend’s skiing with friends before driving back for it to be displayed at the Geneva Salon."

We'd prefer to drive the sporty wagon into the Alps after we finish up covering the Geneva show, but we get where Guillaume is coming from.

Strangely, while Kia's official description and photos of the car all include wintry imagery of winding, snow-packed mountain roads and sugar-coated scenery, the Sportspace's 2.0-liter turbo engine sends power only to the front wheels, no AWD, hybrid or otherwise. The 250-hp T-GDI unit is positioned to give the car quick, spirited performance that comfortably exceeds the average wagon.

The car's overall proportions tell the story of the sporty ride waiting at the driver's seat. The sloping glass roof, forward-angled D pillar and sculpted rear give the 4,855 x 1,870 x 1,425-mm (L x W x H, 191 x 73.6 x 56-in) car the feel of a sporty, stretched hatchback, as opposed to a big, boxy, family-hauling wagon.

"The normal wagon treatment would include a long third window to suggest and show the luggage carrying capacity," explains Guillaume. "But by applying a strong D-pillar treatment and a much more swept back rear hatch, we have given the back of the car a strong character – muscular and athletic. It has great power and strength within its mass. The visual weight of the rear is reduced with careful shaping of screen, door and rear bumper. The edges cut into the mass to make its raked appearance believable and less wagon-like."

A full-width carbon fiber rear diffuser and roof spoiler add to the sense of power and poise at the rear. A vertical fog lamp and twin tailpipes are set into that diffuser.

Up front, the Sportspace has an evolution of Kia's tiger nose grille set between "ice cube" LED headlights. A plexiglass grille insert features active louvres that increase air intake when driving conditions warrant.

A few satin aluminum accent strips and a set of carbon fiber kick plates provide a bit of color contrast with the Ignition Red paint. The car stands on 20-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels with carbon fiber accents.

The Sportspace's exterior sets the stage for an interior that is roomy and practical but also performance-focused. The hypothetical Sportspace owner would be able to take full advantage of the extra space of his or her sports wagon using the 28 integrated rolling balls on the load floor. This design makes it easier to slide heavy, awkward and fragile cargo aboard. To ensure the cargo doesn't keep sliding once the driver toes the accelerator, the balls automatically lower into recessed position when the is ignition turned. The load area also includes a pass-through between the two rear seats, purpose-built for accommodating skis.

With interior utility taken care of, Kia dresses the cabin with the materials one has come to expect of a high-performance coupe: black leather, carbon fiber and anodized aluminum. The two rows of seats are split by an extended center tunnel, and each of the four passengers enjoys the comfort of a sports seat at his back. The driver interface includes a digital instrument panel and a widescreen infotainment display, the latter of which can be viewed in full- or split-screen mode. In place of a touchscreen, Kia equips the infotainment unit with physical dials below the screen and just behind the the gear shifter. The view behind the vehicle is also digitized, with a rearview camera display standing in for the mirror.

The rear cabin doesn't include an integrated, concept-specific infotainment system like we thought it might, but it does offer built-in tablet docking notches. The rear passengers can also use the tablet mounts on the backs of the front seats for their viewing pleasure.

Kia doesn't mention any plans for production, and until it does, we have to believe this'll end up in the growing pile of attractive Kia concept cars that never see the light of day. Enjoy the view while you can from within our Geneva gallery.

Source: Kia Europe

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