Quirky Korean Coupe shown at Seoul Motor Show as Kia pushes its sports car assault with this VW Golf GTI rival
THE Kia Novo concept has been shown at the Seoul Motor Show as a rival to the Hyundai Veloster and benchmark VW Golf GTI hot hatch. In a segment choc-full of high-performance heroes, from the VW to the Renault Megane RS265 and Ford Focus ST opposition, the four-door Novo coupe isn’t as convincing as the brilliant Kia Stinger GT4 concept wheeled at the 2014 Detroit motor show, and is an awkward step back in the brand’s suite of design hits since designer Peter Schreyer too the company reigns at the end of 2012.
The name ‘Novo’ means fresh, but the new Kia Cerato-based concept looks like a cross between a Porsche Panamera and a Kia hatch. Led by the trademark Kia grille and smart hockey-stick LEDs, the coupe’s odd side profile sees shut lines reminiscent of the original Audi TT (see that front guard) and are mimicked today by the recent Volvo concepts designed by Thomas Ingenlath, who is ex-Volkswagen, as of course is Schreyer. While the Novo rides on 20-inch alloy wheels, the smart, crisp edges create definitive, confident look until the C-pillar, where the frumpiness makes the Novo seem a little rear heavy with a puffed-cheek look.
The Novo’s cabin is much more convincing, with a wide, low dash focussed on the driver with a holographic three-dimensional instrument cluster serving up the critical data. The design is smooth, sophisticated with detailed stitchwork but an over uncluttered appearance. There’s a smart ‘Blind monitor’ to the right of the deep-dish steering wheel that allows the driver to operate menu functions without their eyes leaving the road. That’s the theory, anyway.
Sadly, power comes from the competent but hardly GTI-rivalling 1.6-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder found in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo and the Kia Proceed GT – both more tepid hatches than tyre-scorching performance pin-ups – mated to a seven-speed dual –clutch transmission. Kia makes no performance claims for the Novo, yet in the Proceed GT the same driveline propels the hatch from 0-100km/h in 7.4sec. We’re waiting for more power from Kia/Hyundai powerplants to server up an even stronger alternative to the armada of Euro hot hatches currently on sale.
The Kia Novo remains a concept for now, but expect its features and design ideas to filter down into Kia production future models.
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