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Five of Kia's coolest concept cars

New shooting brake concept set for Frankfurt is latest in a long line of funky concepts

  1. 2006: Kia Sidewinder

    Stratos. Intercepter. Vanquish. Sidewinder. As car names go, this surely ranks up there with the best, and the car itself was promising as well. Produced as part of a design competition at the 2006 LA Motor Show, it was envisaged as a specialist drift racer (yes, really). A hydrogen turbine feeding a series of in-wheel, high torque electric motors would’ve enabled the car to “hold the ultimate slip angle”, building on the then-trend in LA of officially sanctioned drifting events. Another version was also modeled with the iconic Gulf livery. All seem too good to be true? That’s because it was - the Sidewinder never made it past the drawing board. Boo, and indeed, hiss.

    Words: James Smalley

  2. 2011: Kia GT

    The GT saw rear-wheel drive makes a Kia debut. It coupled a 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 that promised 380bhp, with an eight-speed automatic ‘box. The official bumph talked of “creating something graceful, athletic and confident, but not aggressive or overbearing”, and the car was apparently inspired by the iconic GT cars of the 1970s. LEDs were present in both the headlights and interior instrument panel, where Kia were ahead of their time in producing a virtual cockpit programmable to the driver’s liking. Although the GT itself never got built, it laid the foundations for future concepts and the current Stinger saloon.

  3. 2012: Kia Track'ster

    Annoying apostrophe aside, this Kia Soul-based concept was billed as a 250bhp hot hatch designed to take the fight to Ford and Renaultsport. Certainly looked the part, with its squat stance, racy colour scheme and massively-flared rear arches. Beneath the aggressive bodywork sat a turbocharged 2.0-litre in-line four-cyl, and it meant serious business inside as well, with storage bins for racing paraphernalia, and a distinct lack of rear seats.

    Unfortunately, there were never any plans to make this car a reality, and it would be another year before we saw a vaguely-hot Kia hatch in the form of the pro_cee’d GT.

  4. 2014: Kia GT4 Stinger

    Not to be confused with the Stinger saloon that’s currently on sale, this was a more real-world sports car than the Sidewinder and constituted Kia’s first serious foray into non-family motoring.

    It weighed in at a mere 1,304kg with near 50/50 weight distribution. There was no stereo, carpet or even proper door handles (Kia instead plumped for 911 GT3–esque fabric pull straps), and the whole thing was powered by a 315bhp, 2.0-litre four cylinder engine derived from Kia’s successful Optima race car. More importantly though, Kia were keen to stress that the GT4 was not a grand tourer, but “a throwback to days when driving a car was a visceral experience unmuted by electronic gimmickry”.

    Don’t get to excited though - as with the Track’ster, mass production was never planned, but a Kia sports car does seem to be edging closer to reality.

  5. 2015: Kia Novo

    Seemingly the pre-cursor to the upcoming Frankfurt concept, the angry-looking Novo (from the Latin for “innovation”) was revealed at the 2015 Seoul Motor Show and previewed styling for upcoming Kias. This was more of a design showcase than an engineering one; at the time, the press release mentioned the aesthetic bits such as the “tiger-nose” grille, triangular exhausts and large front wheel arches at length, whereas the powertrain and mechanicals received barely more than a sentence. The introduction of “suicide” rear doors made Kia one of the only manufacturers to feature them, but as with a lot of things in this article, we’ve yet to see them on a production Kia.

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