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Seoul show: Kia sharpens concept claws with CUB

Something brewing: Kia has revealed its second compact coupe concept in a month with the four-door CUB.

Four-door CUB coupe concept could signal Kia’s compact premium intentions

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Kia logo28 Mar 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

KIA could be preparing to dip its toes into the growing compact premium segment pioneered by the BMW Mini, Fiat 500, Citroen DS3 and Audi A1 with its CUB concept just revealed at the Seoul motor show.

The CUB could be considered further proof of the South Korean company’s premium compact intentions as it has barely finished showing the Mini-like, light-sized Provo hybrid coupe concept at the Geneva motor show.

Like the rear-drive GT concept unveiled at the 2011 Geneva motor show, the CUB has four doors, the rear pair of the reverse-hinged ‘suicide’ variety like a Mazda RX-8 and similarly lacking traditional B-pillars.

Also similar to the GT are the scoop-like air intakes at the front bumper’s outer edges, while other elements reference the similarly petite Kee 2+2 concept first seen at the 2007 Frankfurt show.

But at less than four metres in length, the CUB is even smaller than the 4.3-metre long Kee 2+2.

The sleek exterior features flush glazing, tiny low-drag door mirror pods and a front-end that marks a step away from Kia’s signature tabbed grille design.

Hints that this is a premium vehicle – perhaps Kia’s answer to the larger Mercedes-Benz CLA – include LED exterior lighting, arch-filling 19-inch alloy wheels, bold aerodynamic features and touch-activated door handles.

Finishing off the South Korean-designed CUB’s look is eye-catching exterior paintwork with offset go-faster stripe that accentuates the car’s broad, purposeful stance.

Inside is a sumptuous cabin trimmed in black leather with yellow highlights on the four individual seats, that are also applied to the armrests and steering wheel.

Kia says the instrument cluster was inspired by the eyes of a wild animal, while air vents are controlled by a touch sensor and the steering wheel can monitor the driver’s biorhythms – presumably for the purposes of detecting fatigue or impending health issues.

Switchgear can be activated via driver gestures to make life easier for the driver.

Kia Motors Corporation senior executive vice-president and COO Thomas Oh described the CUB as “a compact, four-door coupe created with a clear focus on driving performance and practicality”.

“Styled to appeal to trend-setting urban dwellers, the CUB features a comfortable four-seater cabin which generates an emotional, feel-good response and delivers everyday, real-world benefits.” Under the bonnet is Hyundai-Kia’s increasingly familiar 1.6-litre direct-injection, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, pumping out 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque.

In the CUB, this engine, also used in the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT hot hatch and Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo sportscar, is said to deliver the 0-100km/h sprint in a respectable 7.7 seconds on the way to a 230km/h top speed.

Kia has no current plans to put the CUB into volume production – but this third evolution of the brand’s premium coupe ambitions suggests the company is getting close.

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