Kia Kue Concept Preview - 2007 Detroit Auto Show: Len Hunt is Kia’s head honcho in the U.S., and he understands how to build the value of a brand. First, a company must build a good product to promote confidence in the customer and build integrity in the brand. Next, customers must feel pride in the product, which ultimately drives passion. Once people are passionate about a brand, the sky’s the limit. The Kia Kue Concept that debuted in Detroit is all about driving pride and passion through design and performance.
Though Kia’s recent models have won critical acclaim and are selling better than ever, few of them inspire pride of ownership and none of them get the enthusiast’s juices flowing. Kia has hired a new global design chief to address this issue, and the Kue Concept intends to provide a clue as to why people might become passionate about the company’s products.
What’s this, a V8 engine? And it’s supercharged to make 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque? Better yet, it drives all four wheels through a five-speed automatic with manual shift capability? Oh Kia, you shouldn’t have.
Kia is adopting a less-is-more design philosophy with the Kue Concept. Says chief designer Tom Kearns: “Good design shouldn’t look like it’s trying too hard.” With its 22-inch wheels pushed out to the corners and the skin spread tautly over the frame, the Kue Concept looks stable and surefooted. Crisp, clean, complementary forms are the rule, and the Kue doesn’t look too far from production form, though the company insists that this crossover suv won’t be crossing over into showrooms.
Kia says the Kue Concept’s interior is technology-interface driven, with lots of programmable touch pads and motion sensing controls that help tailor the interior to the driver’s and passengers’ preferences. Four people can fit inside the Kue, gaining entry through scissors-style doors.
Kia’s press release for the Kue Concept says: “The Kia Kue employs a different approach to the crossover utility vehicle segment by taking elements of what makes a CUV to a new level, namely performance. Kue is designed first and foremost as a driver’s vehicle. While possessing SUV characteristics and capabilities, the Kia Kue focuses more on giving the driver an exhilarating driving experience on the way to the home improvement center than on how much it can haul.
Historically, design hasn’t been a strong point for any Korean automaker. Recently, however, this has been changing – one look at Kia’s Optima or Sedona shows that the company understands how to style a vehicle that people don’t mind being seen in by the neighbors. Kia’s added emphasis on design, and more importantly it’s understanding of the role design plays in making people desire the product, is heartening.