What Is It?
Kia's big news at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show is the Kia Niro concept, a compact crossover that hints at a future urban activity vehicle from the Korean upstart. Decked out with cartoonish 20-inch black wheels, a contrasting silver roof and Lamborghini-style dihedral doors, the Niro has plenty of concept-car whimsy to its credit. But if you look closely, you can see a production car taking shape beneath all that visual drama. Remember the original 2-door Toyota RAV4 or, if you're really into automotive trivia, the Isuzu VehiCROSS? We think Kia is looking to take that idea and run with it, drawing on the 2-door Sportage from the company's own archives, as well.
Will They Ever Sell It?
Don't put it past them. Kia's product planners showed they weren't afraid to take chances with the funky 4-door Soul, and look what happened. They more or less created a successful category of one, with a new Soul generation hitting dealerships as this article goes to press. Why not add an equally funky 2-door with a cool crossover vibe? The Niro's compact dimensions would make it easy to park, while its SUV-style ride height would provide both great visibility and enhanced safety in traffic. We'll go out on a limb and project a production 2-door crossover from Kia by model year 2016, likely with available all-wheel drive and some variant of the Niro's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood.
Why It's Important
Although Kia got its start by essentially copying successful designs from Japan and elsewhere, we view the company as an innovator these days, and the Niro projects this new identity to a global audience. Whatever the word Kia connotes for you in the abstract, you have to admit that the Kia Niro concept is pretty neat.