Kia has gotten pretty good at rolling out a steady stream of concept cars promoting fun driving. So far none of these like the Track’ster, GT and Pop have made it to production. So are these projects just rewards for the design staff after they’ve sweated through the mainstream sedan and economy car breadwinners? Their latest work debuting at the 2013 Geneva Auto show is the Provo, Kia’s vision of a sexy road-legal mini race car. Yep, it looks awesome.
The exterior styling features taut surfaces with performance ques like the large front air dam and rear air diffuser taking on a more functional, geometric look. There’s lots of little race car inspired details. A safety engine ‘kill switch’ required on all real race cars is integrated into the lower fascia. The rims have a large center wheel nut similar to those you see pit workers shoving giant air guns on to change the tires during a race. Integrated into the rear lower bumper is a triangular light which looks similar to the rain lights on modern Formula One cars.
The interior extends the theme with an emphasis more on function and simplicity. There is also a blend of analog and digital. Controls like buttons and switches and the steering wheel are overscaled, a nod to those used by race drivers who have to wear fire proof driving gloves. The dash panels are digital but the instruments are styled to look like analog gauges. The driver and passenger sit on what is essentially a bench seat. It is an interesting departure from the molded driving seats used by race drivers and does away with the center console found on just about every passenger car on the road today.
So is this just more auto show eye candy? Even though the press release describes the car as being designed “for fun – pure and simple”, Kia just might be serious about this one. The Kia Pro Cee’d GT will go on sale in Europe later in 2013 as an alternative to VW’s GTI hothatch. It will be priced at the premium end of the line leaving room for an entry level performance car like the Provo.