2009 Kia Koup Concept

March 20, 2008


Considering the number of designers, engineers, manufacturing workers, marketers, and everyone else needed to bring a new car to market, it’s not surprising to hear the process described as a symphony. But pulling together a truly standout design is a more jazzy process, a lot like “a live, improve solo,” suggests Tom Kearns, head of U.S. styling operations for the Korean carmaker, Kia.


Kearns and his team have laid down some interesting riffs in the form of the 2009 Kia Koup Concept vehicle, a striking show car that could add some real flair to a brand not normally known for standout styling.


The coupe, said Kearns, during its New York Auto Show debut, “puts a premium on simplicity and precision,” but it also shows a sleek athleticism that could soon make the move from concept to production.


Face-on, the Koup’s most distinctive feature is its large grille and brake ducts, which Kearns hints “could be the new face for Kia.” The concept needs plenty of air for a free-breathing 2.0-liter Theta in-line four-cylinder direct-injection engine. Thanks to its twin-scroll supercharger, the powertrain produces a solid 280 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque.


The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox that can be manually operated from a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.


From the side, the Koup features a swooshing line that flairs forward from the C-pillar, then sweeps back to the decklid.


The automaker turned to the aftermarket for inspiration, opting for a set of oversized, two-piece alloy wheels.


Inside, the 2009 Kia Koup Concept features a three-gauge instrument cluster and a distinctive racing-style steering wheel. The dual-tone seats are offset by silicon insert bars.


On the tech front, the show car features an array of infotainment technology, including a slick audio jukebox and Bluetooth, for hands-free cellphoning.


As the automaker’s newly-updated, 2009 Optima shows, Kia is looking hard for a way to stand out in today’s crowded market. Rock-bottom prices alone aren’t enough. Styling is critical, and an automaker needs to establish a consistent brand look.


Whether the Koup will hit showrooms isn’t clear, but Kearns told TheCarConnection.com that it is a “production-ready design that could find a way into the Kia line-up sooner than you might think.”

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