Making its debut at the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE 2019), Kia’s new Futuron concept not only offers a glimpse into how the company sees the design direction of electric vehicles unfolding, but also some design cues for future Kia models.
First and foremost, the design is a vision of how Kia sees the styling of electric SUVs unfolding, particularly that of the “coupe” bodystyles that are bound to be coming as more drivers distance themselves from the traditional SUV slab-sided utilitarian box, without losing the interior space and versatility that attracts them to the segment.
The exterior is simple, shirking the ornate trappings present to some degree on just about every vehicle. Rather, the lightweight body twists, expands and contracts around the various mechanicals, resulting in a taut, sleek and streamlined profile.
Dimensionally, the concept fits about halfway between the current Sorento and Telluride models, though its wheelbase is longer than that of Telluride, and of course the body is considerably more athletic than either of the current models.
Probably the most interesting feature for future Kia buyers is the interpretation of Kia’s decade-old signature tiger nose “grille,” which here stretches full width, in effect creating a “tiger face,” says Kia. The headlights are a series of LEDs arrayed much like stars in what the company calls a “star cloud.” The matrix is reproduced at the end for the taillights.
The low-profile body sits high on the chassis, resulting in a sporty coupe profile that effectively conveys the high-ground-clearance all-terrain capabilities of the vehicle. The fully-electric powertrain helps create a stable stance, with the high-capacity battery mounted below the cabin floor and the four in-wheel electric motors combining to lower the centre of gravity.
The cabin narrows from the windshield to the rear fascia, creating a triangular roof that houses a diamond-shaped panoramic roof, bathing occupants in natural light. The greenhouse also houses a series of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors to set the groundwork for Level 4 autonomous driving.
The front seats are created out of flexible materials and can be adjusted from driving “upright” to resting “reclined” in a manner similar to airline First-Class accommodations. In autonomous mode, the seats go into “zero gravity” mode as the steering wheel retracts into the instrument panel.
The instrument cluster is a graphical user interface that flows out of the driver’s door and seamlessly wraps around the steering wheel. It’s operated by artificial intelligence technologies, displaying vital information about driving mode, powertrain and navigation to the driver.