Kia 'Imagine by Kia' concept to launch as Tesla-fighting electric car

Stylish ‘Imagine by Kia’ SUV concept will launch as brand’s electric “halo” car in 2021

Imagine by Kia concept

The production-ready Imagine by Kia model, known internally as the Kia CV, will be the brand's first dedicated electric car, using cutting-edge technology to provide a 310-mile range and the ability to charge at up to 350kW, for a sub-20-minute recharge time.

The new model will use know-how from Kia’s tie-up with Rimac to offer what bosses refer to as “incredible” performance and will squarely target the just-launched Tesla Model Y in the battle for mid-size electric SUV sales.

Speaking to DrivingElectric, Kia Europe’s product planning boss Pablo Martinez Masip said: “[Imagine by Kia] will have 800-volt technology like the Porsche Taycan. We want a product that can benefit from our investment in the IONITY 350kW charging network.” The firm’s marketing chief Carlos Lahoz added: “The technology is state-of-the-art – less than 20 minutes charging with more than 500km (310 miles) of range.”

It’s unclear exactly what form the new model will take, but it’s likely that it’ll look a lot like the Imagine by Kia concept car (pictured). That means it’ll offer a coupe-styled body with a raised SUV-style ride height – allowing Kia’s engineers and designers to mount the batteries and electric motors under the floor for efficient use of space.

The company will use its first dedicated electric car to showcase what it has planned for future, more affordable models. It'll sit at the top of the Kia product range, acting as a 'halo' car for the brand and forming part of the company's ambitious ‘Plan S’ business strategy announced last month.

Lahoz said: “It is important to make a statement. Every manufacturer needs a halo car that sets the pace for whatever is coming. We are going to launch 11 [electric cars] by 2025, and this is the first stepping stone to what the new Kia is going to offer to consumers.

”We have a lot of expectation to give our first message to the market that we are serious,” he told us. “The car that we will be launching in 2021 will be a super car. It will be super high-performance.”

The unusually named 'Imagine by Kia' concept was originally described as a "visual embodiment" of a move towards electric cars. The front of the car stands out thanks to an illuminated ‘tiger mask’ encircling the headlights, while conventional wing mirrors have been ditched in favour of cameras that are sleeker and more aerodynamic.

Elsewhere, an illuminated Kia logo sits where the brand’s conventional, oval badge would ordinarily be placed. There's also a pair of grooves interrupting the bonnet line.

A single glass panel is used for the windscreen and roof, with the pane tapering into a “double-bubble” above the rear passenger seats. The bronze-coloured paintwork, meanwhile, is intended to represent warmth. It’s made of six hand-applied layers of chrome-effect silver base coats, with the bronze tint added on top.

According to the South Korean manufacturer, the 'Imagine by Kia' has been deliberately designed to not fit into one vehicle category, borrowing elements from SUVs, family saloons and crossovers.

Other notable features are the 22-inch wheels, a spacious four-seat interior and rear-hinged back doors. The two front seats have diamond cross-cut shells, while the rear seats form a bench. On the dashboard there are no less than 21 individual high-resolution displays, curving from one side of the interior to the other, as well as a long 'floating' centre console.

The production version of the Imagine by Kia concept will likely launch in early 2021, with first customer deliveries expected later that year. As it's a flagship product, we can expect prices to start from around £50,000.