Design & Technology / Product
The future of the KOUP April 17th, 2008
By Jay Ryu
Assistant Manager, Overseas Product Marketing Team
We are grateful for how much interest the Kia KOUP generated at the 2008 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). There have been many inquiries as to the viability of KOUP finding its way into production. To be frank, it’s still too soon to confirm the KOUP for production but I can tell you Spectra (‘Cerato’ in many markets) is scheduled for a complete makeover this coming year and as you know we have both a sedan and 5-door versions for Spectra.
Let’s speculate a bit about how we could proceed with the KOUP design shown at NYIAS. For sure what was shown is a design direction that’s being considered for mass production. We strongly suggested as much during the press conference. What we mean by design direction is that you could expect to see the same profile and design themes like the ‘swoosh’ and ‘checkmark’ on the outside and some of the key interior elements.
Our thinking naturally would be to appeal to as many people as possible in the market for an affordable vehicle. To that end we would target the compact sporty coupe segment and appeal to those who look favorably on the Scion tC and Honda Civic coup, thus a young demographic who places a high value on style and fuel efficiency and not only on high performance.
Concept cars are designed to stretch the thinking of both designer and audience so it’s inevitable that not all what was shown in New York will make it to production. As an example, while 19” wheels and Brembo brakes are cool they aren’t practical in a production car. And as much as we all love the panoramic-view sunroof, while entirely possible its cost would belie the premise of a low-cost coup.
But some other exciting elements of the design, perhaps surprisingly so, are more practical than they might appear. The dashboard, instrument cluster, the high-styled door panels and the frameless doors are a good example of what I mean; very forward thinking and very doable.
The KOUP was a fun project for all of us at Kia and we learned a lot about which way we will proceed as we bring to market the next generation of Spectra. Will the KOUP see the light of day? Let’s put it this way, all of our concept vehicles have a firm toehold in reality and some are more real than others. If you take a look back at the concept cars we have shown on the international show circuit these past few years you will find your answer.