The Kia Cross GT the is the latest concept car to come from the creative minds of the Korean company’s German and US-based studios, run by Gregory Guillaume and Tom Kearns, respectively, under the direction of Peter Schreyer.
Designed in Germany but developed in California, the Kia Cross GT concept previews a forthcoming contender in the growing crossover segment and pushes now familiar Kia design elements onto a new, more practical, vehicle typology.
The concept lives up to its crossover designation by blending the attributes of the amazing GT concept revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show with those of a large SUV. As with the GT sedan concept, which explored the notion of building a full-size rear-drive luxury sedan, the Cross GT concept is Kia’s proverbial ‘toe in the water’ to gauge public reaction to a larger and more premium offering than the current Sorento.
“The Cross GT, with its raised stance and large cargo area, allows us to envision the GT in the form of a full-size luxury crossover,” Schreyer said at the concept’s debut in Chicago.
The similarities continue on the Cross GT’s full, organic surfacing combined with technical elements such as the winged taillamps integrated into the backlight and the vent that appears to pull the front fender into the door. The grille and its metal inserts are reminiscent to the Mercedes Concept A revealed at the 2011 Shanghai motor show, though the chromed elements are larger.
Based on the GT chassis, the vehicle’s proportions are similar to the sedan concept as well, with short overhangs, a long wheelbase and wide stance. Kia says the Cross GT offers even greater visibility thanks to its taller stature. Measuring in at 4.9 meters in overall length, the Cross GT concept is 210mm longer than the Sorento and its 3.1m wheelbase is 400mm longer than the production car’s. The 2.09m width is 124mm wider than Sorento, but the Cross GT’s overall height of 1.66m is actually 41mm shorter, giving the concept a lower roofline than most large CUVs.
The Cross GT is designed to accommodate four passengers and their cargo in luxurious surroundings, but the large greenhouse, airy cabin and gently sloping hood give the Cross GT a nimble feel that’s at home in crowded urban environments.
Access into the cabin is granted via conventional front and suicide rear doors. The configuration allows for easy access to the rear bucket seats and affords generous views of the Cross GT’s premium textures and materials.
Inside, the Cross GT exemplifies modern luxury. The four Almond Terra-colored leather seats – anchored to the central tunnel – appear to float within the cabin, lending an open, modern feel. Inspired by fine equestrian saddles, the seats feature contrasting stitching and are tanned with vegetable oil using natural dyes and no chemicals. Use of re-harvested American Walnut across the sweeping instrument panel and 100% eco-friendly renewable wool felt throughout the vehicle also add to the Cross GT’s environmentally friendly appeal.
The Cross GT’s subsystems, including HVAC, telematics and entertainment, are accessed via a touch screen and central mouse control technology to minimize driver distraction. The rear passengers have the ability to access the Internet and infotainment options through flat panel screens mounted to the headrests of the front seats. A large storage compartment has been incorporated beneath the flat load floor in the cargo area behind the rear seats.
Letting light into the cabin is a multi-paneled sky light with hexagonal glass inserts that enhance the Cross GT’s premium design aesthetic. The cargo compartment is accessed through a clam shell design that incorporates a traditional glass hatch and a tailgate.
The Cross GT is powered by a parallel hybrid system, which mates a 3.8-liter V6 with a a pancake-shaped electric motor sandwiched between the V6 and the 8-speed automatic transmission charged with sending power to all four wheels. Combined, the V6 and electric motor produce 500 lb.-ft. of torque and 400 horsepower, with an all-electric range of 20 miles.
Kia says the hybrid system in tune with reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint while providing the uncompromising performance that’s expected of a large, luxury crossover.