Designed at Kia’s Seoul design studio under the direction of President and Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, the CUB has rearward-opening rear doors and an "access-all-areas" interior concept. Essentially, the design team left the B-pillars out, hence the all access thing. Clever though, as it looks to significantly improve ingress and egress for the trend setters.
On the outside there are a number of personalized design cues going on. Side mirrors are almost non-existent, while strange little upturned winglets on the doors that Kia refers to as “turning vanes” look to be more nautical than dry land effective. These aerodynamic vanes at sill level are designed to streamline and add definition to the CUB’s profile.
On the hood, recessed "wing treatments" similar to the CUB’s hood and door details can be found. From the front, the CUB’s distinctive snickering, mustachioed face reminds one of the infamous masks used by Anonymous. Headlights feature two-point LED lights, similar to those on the Kia Quoris, while big 19-inch alloy wheels fill out the stubby wheel arches.
With seating for four the CUB’s interior is trimmed in black leather with yellow seat accents around the armrests and steering wheel. Think Bumblebee with suicide doors and twin-turbochargers. Kia says the instrument panel was inspired by wild animal eyes – although they look more robot-eyed than animal to us. The gauge cluster is deepset binnacle behind a thick, three-spoke steering wheel – which, by the way, can monitor your biorhythms. The dash overall is a minimalist affair with air vents controlled by a touch sensor and a place for an iPhone.
A DIS (Driving Information System) controller, similar to Xbox’s Kinect system, is connected to a gesture camera. With what Kia calls “well-defined motions,” drivers can scroll through and select menu items via the center display. So now you have people throwing about Dance Dance Fever like "motions" in an attempt to turn the AC down. I can’t see this being a problem ever.
Cute and urban trendy is nice but to ensure the CUB isn’t made fun of on the freeway, Kia has placed a new 1.6 liter engine with direct injection under the hood. This powerplant, recently confirmed for use in Kia’s “pro_cee’d GT” and “cee’d GT” in Europe, should provide ample power for most situations.
Fitted with twin-scroll turbochargers and beefed up internal bits, the CUB’s new engine generates 51 percent more power – 204 hp (154 kW) – and 60 percent more torque – 195 lb. ft. (265 Nm) – than the boring old 1.6 engine. In partner with six-speed manual gearbox, the wee CUB is reported to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in a sort of quick 7.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph).
Looking to go head to head with the Mini, this turning-vaned, suicide-doored, turbocharged urban assault vehicle could be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, there are no plans to put the Kia CUB concept into production as yet.