DETROIT, USA (AVING Special Report on 'NAIAS 2008') -- <Visual News & Press Release> The all-new Kia Kee sports coupe concept vehicle today made its U.S. debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Previously introduced at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in Germany, the Kee is an expression of the company's emphasis on design and incorporates styling cues that will establish a design language and identity for the brand.
Designed in Europe under the guidance of Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, the sports coupe concept is named Kee for several reasons. "Kee refers to the English word 'key' as the coupe embodies design elements which will become essential to the future 'look' of Kia vehicles," explains Schreyer. "The coupe also represents the 'key' which will open the door to success for our brand and acknowledges the Chinese and Korean word 'Ki' -- the cultural concept for life-force or spiritual energy."
A New Design Philosophy
The four-seater, 2-door coupe Kee is designed with svelte, newly-proportioned lines resulting from a slightly lengthened greenhouse. It is a new interpretation of a 2+2 coupe with an imposing road presence that demonstrates an uncluttered, pure and timeless execution which represents a new design philosophy for Kia.
"More than any other car-buyer, the sports coupe enthusiast knows instinctively when a car is right, when it is suited to its purpose," observes Schreyer. "Shape, proportion, stance and both tactile and emotional aspects can all add up to a car that stirs the blood.
"The Kee is a combination of all of those elements. It is a harmonious blend of everything that sets a sports coupe apart from a more functional vehicle that is typically used for a wide range of activities. The sports coupe is single minded. It is about driving, pure and simple. It is about appearance, performance, emotion," explains Schreyer.
Much more than just a concept car, the new Kee is also the dawn of a new design language for the Kia brand -- a language that is meant to speak to motorists around the globe about Kia's intention to become a major automotive nameplate.
Kee embodies Kia's desire to create a family of cars that will be instantly recognizable on the road and will have a simple yet sophisticated appeal in dealer showrooms. Whether wide-eyed admirers of this new generation of vehicles are existing Kia customers -- wise to the quality, safety and strong value of the brand -- or an entirely new audience, they will immediately recognize a range of cars aimed at those who enjoy driving and seek the perfect machinery to deliver that experience.
"Kee communicates a design language that will be seen on all future Kia products," continued Schreyer. "That language is stated in certain elements of the visual representation -- lines, shapes, details. It is meant to be consistent and easy to understand; visually strong and purposeful but capable of being transferred from this sports coupe concept to a city runabout, a family sedan, a load-lugging MPV or a go-anywhere SUV.
"It was essential Kee should consist of a rhythm of lines -- controlled, clean, and pure. It had to have classic proportions and be well balanced. This is the future for Kia design -- it displays purpose and function while still delivering emotion," added Schreyer.
Strong and Distinctive Presence
Measuring 14 feet long, the Kia Kee is a new interpretation of a 2+2 coupe, featuring a broad stance and a low profile with unique exterior elements such as a strong and powerful frontal design with distinctive headlamps and an eye-catching LED cluster, as well as a dynamic profile with striking greenhouse treatment. Kee keeps a simple yet distinctive outline thanks to its long sweeping hood, slightly lengthened cabin, sculpted flanks and strong, yet almost hidden, body lines.
Beneath the powerful and unique appearance are a host of fine details all hinting at the car's true purpose to create a sophisticated design entity. Whether it is the milled aluminum B-pillar visible through the panoramic grey-tinted glass, the distinctively individual 20-inch wheels or the small touches such as the electronic micro-switch door release set into the side- window glass, it is clear that this car has been lovingly created by people who care about design.
Sleek Yet Sporty Interior
Inside, Kee looks and feels like a true sports car in which the observant driver will instantly feel comfortable and at ease. The cabin is designed for maximum focus on driving. Clustered directly ahead of the driver, the main dials and controls are simple and straightforward utilizing Kia's new standard red-orange illumination.
Behind the square-bottomed steering wheel are paddles to shift the six-speed semi-automatic sequential gearbox. Instead of a standard gear stick, an ergonomically designed lever sits atop the milled aluminum center console and requires only a nudge forward or backward to select the desired drive mode. The top of the computer mouse-like lever flips up to reveal the electronic starter button.
Emphasizing the theme of real-life functionality, the rear of the 2+2 cabin is sufficiently spacious to allow two adult passengers to travel on individual seats in the back of the vehicle whenever necessary. While Kee is not intended to be a regular four-seater, Kia knows that real people have real needs and the Kee presents a viable packaging layout.
The design team has concentrated on producing a realistic sports coupe -- not a flight of fancy; the brand has no intention of moving into the exotic sports car territory that others so amply fill. Every element of the Kia Kee design is clear, easy to understand and use. All the main controls are fly-by wire, but their feel has been created to deliver a sense of tradition. For example, the toggle switches mounted on the dashboard -- echoing the DNA of generations of sports cars -- let drivers navigate intuitively through the interface menu of the info-media center.
New Generation Engine
After pressing the starter button the driver will immediately recognize the throaty roar of a V6 engine. The next generation 2.7-liter MUE-II engine produces 197 horsepower and delivers instant response, enormous flexibility and scintillating performance on any road.
Light-weight aluminum or plastic panels and components were used wherever possible in order to reduce engine weight and keep the emphasis on rapid and controlled acceleration that ensures simple fun and driving pleasure. The result is a low curb weight with excellent balance biased towards the front of the front-wheel drive car to deliver neutrally safe handling. Kee could also be built with rear wheel drive or even all-wheel-drive for even more spirited driving.
Kee is the first step towards a new family look for Kia vehicles underscored by a focus on distinctive design. Kee lays down very clear indications of how Schreyer and his design team intend future Kia vehicles to look and displays elements that its creators will transfer to future production models.