Remember that Saab 9x that Saab fans got soooooooo excited about a decade+ ago only to have our hopes snuffed out by the realities of the automotive business?
The Saab 9x had 4WD, a potent turbocharged engine, a wedgy SUV-style body (well before small SUV’s were seriously considered anything other than utilitarian) and a futuristic interior. We drooled over the body shape and the promise of comfort, sporty driving and practicality. We got excited at the massive leap the Saab 9x would have represented not just for Saab, but for the automotive industry in general.
Small premium coupe SUV’s aren’t so unusual anymore, but the market is a long, long way from being saturated.
Kia has plans to get into the small-performance game: their production version Pro_Cee’d GT will show at Geneva. They will also show a concept car at Geneva that hints at what they’d like to do in the small SUV/lifestyle segment. It’s distinctly futuristic and decidedly upmarket. It wouldn’t look like this in production form, of course (850 LED’s per headlamp!), but the intention is pretty self-evident: Mini Paceman – we have an eye on you.
The car is called the Kia Provo and this is what it looks like. Click to enlarge.
Ok, so the nose is quite a bit smaller than the Saab 9x but the general shape is there, as is the futuristic styling (albeit in a much busier fashion) and it has a massive tip to Saab in the form of the wraparound windscreen.
It uses the same 1.6 litre turbo engine as the Hyundai Veloster Turbo to pump out just over 200hp to the front wheels but it complements this with a 45hp rear-wheel electric motor that can be called to action in corners, or allow an electric-only ‘creep mode’ for shorter distances. You can make your own jokes about putting your Kia into creep mode…….. now.
It’s not a Saab by any means, even if it reminds me of one (that admittedly, never actually existed in production form). What it is, though, is hope for those who really liked some of what the Saab 9x represented. In fact, one could argue that by using a 4-cylinder turbo to put out more than 100hp per litre it’s being more Saabish than the 9x’s proposed 100hp per litre 3.0l V6. Not only does it have more power per unit of displacement, it would also have much lighter weight which leads to greater agility.
Yes, it looks too fussy and sharp and yes it’s only a concept, but it’s a concept that I like. Hyundai might be the better selling Korean but sister company Kia is turning out to be the more interesting Korean. If they have to adopt some Saabish design cues and principles to do it, then all the better.
A final question – if I’d airbrushed the Kia badge off the rear and off the steering wheel, who would you think had made this car? Would it change what might have been a negative opinion simply because it’s a Kia?