Design Overview: Gregory Guillaume on the Kia Sportspace Concept

The Kia Sportspace was conceived as the ultimate getaway car. A preview for the forthcoming Optima replacement, the concept was designed to shuttle its four occupants to the ski slopes in luxury. But it also stands as a sleek, driver’s car that owners would want to get into to cruise down long stretches of road.

“The Sportspace was conceived as a car that drivers would want to use at weekends to get out and enjoy the journey,” says Gregory Guillaume, Head of Kia’s European Design center in Frankfurt. “It was central to our thinking that the car should provide real encouragement to hit the road and make the most of every moment.”

Measuring 4855mm long, 1870mm wide and 1425mm tall, the concept rides on a generous 2840mm wheelbase. Its proportions are muscular and its wide body and low roofline give it a very sporty aesthetic.

Billed as a typology-blurring vehicle, the Sportspace concept is said to meet the demands of those who refuse to be categorized when it comes to their lifestyle and needs. But Guillaume is open about its origins: “Kia does not have a wagon in this important segment of the European market, but I was determined that we would not simply create something that conformed to tradition.

“This car comes from an ambition I had when I was studying design in Switzerland as a young man. I always had this picture in my mind of creating a vehicle that I could have used to go for a weekend’s skiing with friends before driving back for it to be displayed at the Geneva show.

Geneva is a special show for me — it comes as winter starts to release its grip. It has a special atmosphere and a particular appeal. The ideal concept vehicle had to reflect this.”

Exterior design
Unlike traditional wagons or even shooting brakes, the Sportspace concept presents an architectural outline that is distinct and sophisticated. Its long and lean profile with unbroken surfaces and purposeful lines is emphasized by a very forward-positioned D-pillar and almost hatchback-like rear door arrangement.

“The normal wagon treatment would include a long third window to suggest and show the luggage carrying capacity,” says Guillaume. “But by applying a strong D-pillar treatment and a much more swept back rear hatch we have given the back of the car a strong character — muscular and athletic. It has great power and strength within its mass.

“The visual weight of the rear is reduced with careful shaping of screen, door and rear bumper. The edges cut into the mass to make its raked appearance believable and less wagon-like.”

At the front, the Sportspace concept wears an evolution of Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille. But the solid plexiglas insert isn’t as solid as it appears. Close examination reveals it contains louvers that can rotate to allow more air in to cool the turbocharged 2.0-liter T-GDI engine when required. The powertrain highlights Kia’s commitment to introducing more efficient, downsized gasoline engines.

A satin aluminum strip runs across the front of the hood above the ‘ice cube’ LED headlights, giving a sense of strength, while subtle curves along the underside of the lamps add dynamism to the concept’s face. Further satin aluminum strips set into the chin spoiler hide inset turn signals that become apparent when switched on.

In profile, the Sportspace concept features flush mounted door handles and a strong character line runs along the body, visually connecting the front and rear. A satin aluminum accent strip arcs over the car’s long and narrow DLO while its high beltline, simple bodysides and low, inset carbon fiber kick plate add to the sense of muscularity. 20-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels inset with carbon fiber, which emerges from a pentagonal hub at the center, underscore the impression.

The design of the rear pillar — which is wider and slopes forwards — is combined with tapering side surfaces and a concave tailgate. The wide rear tail lamps and a full-width carbon-fiber diffuser further emphasize the car’s wide stance and sporty appeal. The tail lamps incorporate the turn indicators, which pulse outwards when in operation.


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