“The working week is over. The late afternoon sun is glinting on the ice crystals in the road-side snowbanks and turning the snow-capped peaks ahead pink. The road snakes ahead toward a weekend of fun and action. The journey demands a swift, efficient and refined machine to allow the maximum pleasure to be extracted from the time available.”
Those aren’t the opening lines of a press release for a BMW. Those are, in fact, the opening lines of the press release for the Kia Sportspace Concept that made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week. While it may be hard to imagine a Kia filling that role, a production version of the Sportspace Concept could give it a serious shot.
Painted a bright “Ignition Red” for Geneva, the Sportspace Concept is eye candy like you don’t normally get from Kia. It’s definitely a station wagon, but it looks sporty and muscular. It has the room to haul quite a bit of luggage, but the need for practicality clearly did not limit the designer’s commitment to elegant design.
Station wagons may not be the sexiest segment in the automotive industry, but a very well done one can be incredibly beautiful. This is going to sound crazy, but the Kia Sportspace Concept may even be more striking than the Jaguar XF Sportbrake that was shown at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2012. It’s that good looking.
Details about the Sportspace concept are sparse, but Kia did say that power for the car comes from a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine that makes 247 horsepower. There is no all-wheel-drive system included on the concept, so the Sportspace is front-wheel-drive. That’s not a lot of power in the U.S., but with gasoline prices as high as they are in Europe, it’s fitting for the Geneva Motor Show.
The engine’s power is also very close to what the Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0 turbo makes here in the U.S. With the Kia Optima growing long in the tooth, could the Sportspace be a preview of what’s to come? Nothing has been confirmed for sure, but it seems likely. The taillights look like an updated version of the ones on the current Optima, and the front is an updated version of the corporate “tiger-nose” grille. The headlights look like an evolution of the current Optima’s headlights as well.
It’s unlikely that the Sportspace Concept will make it to the U.S. as a wagon, but the next Optima is expected to go on sale next year, and what we see here already looks close to production-ready. If this really is a preview of the next Optima, and the production version looks just as good, then Kia definitely has a winner on its hands. Even though the competition in the midsize segment has gotten intense over the last two generations, there’s always going to be room for a newcomer with a bold, aggressive look.
It would also be a great way for Hyundai and Kia to better define the difference between their brands. Other than different sheet metal, there isn’t a lot that separates the two sister companies. Hyundai has slowly moved into more of a luxury-focused role, and if it truly embraced that identity, it could do a great job. It seems common sense then to move Kia more toward a sporty focus. If Hyundai sold vehicles with more handsome styling and premium features, while Kia sold vehicles with a more aggressive look and a focus on being fun to drive, it would help minimize competition between the two. As of now though, both companies compete for very similar buyers.
If the Sportspace Concept does make it to production in wagon form, and if Kia did bring it to the U.S., that would just be all the better. It would likely only be sold in Europe, but who says we don’t deserve any wagons? The Kia Sportspace Concept is proof that station wagons can be sexy, and with compact crossover SUVs creeping closer and closer to station wagon proportions, who’s to say that the United States doesn’t deserve some sexy wagon action? If Kia could keep a production version of the Sportspace very close to the concept, the resulting wagon would likely serve as a tempting alternative to the growing field of compact crossover SUVs. Hopefully Kia is willing to give it a shot.
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