Kia Motors revealed its new Futuron Concept, an illuminating all-wheel-drive SUV coupe which proposes new designs for future electric vehicles.
The Futuron Concept represents the modern and confident image of a progressive electric SUV coupe envisioned by Kia. The Futuron name itself is a portmanteau of ‘future’ and ‘on’, hinting at the switched-on, electric nature of future SUV designs from the brand.
With a design based around the notion of dynamic purity, the Futuron Concept merges elegant proportions with pure shapes and surfaces. Its lightweight SUV coupe body incorporates a fully-electric all-wheel-drive powertrain, wrapped in bold yet modern exterior surfaces, and with a flexible, high-tech interior.
The concept car made its public debut at the 2019 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai a few days ago.
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An electric SUV coupe with a ‘360-degree core’
The Kia Concept is built around a single, strong ‘360-degree’ design notable for its pure, smooth form devoid of ornament. The delicate diffusion of the body’s surfaces creates a series of taut, flowing shapes that twist, expand and contract around the body. The result is a sleek and streamlined shape, creating an aero-efficient profile.
The novel proportions of the car are immediately striking. Its low-profile SUV coupe body makes a strong statement of intent for Kia’s future cars, which will be confident, sporty and modern, yet also elegant. At 4,850 mm in length, 1,550 mm tall and with a 3,000 mm-long wheelbase, the Futuron’s elevated ground clearance is matched with a low, lean body to create a dynamic, confident posture.
The Futuron’s fully-electric powertrain makes this shape possible. A high-capacity battery is mounted low in the vehicle’s body, beneath the cabin floor, providing electrical energy to four powerful in-wheel electric motors. The elevated stance of the car is therefore matched with a low centre of gravity and a cutting-edge e-AWD system which delivers lightning-fast responses to driver inputs.
A sports car on an SUV platform, combined with comfortable, lean-back seats, Futuron offers users a new type of interactive driving experience suitable for urban city environments. Various elements of the vehicle’s structure and design foster the important connection and interaction between car and driver.
The front fender flows backwards from the front of the hood before plunging into the cabin itself, establishing a connection between the driving seat and the road ahead. The concept’s roof is a diamond-shaped panoramic glasshouse which sits atop the 360-degree core, in the best traditions of UFO and flying saucer design. While flooding the cabin with natural light, it also extends down the bonnet to give drivers an unparalleled view ahead. The glasshouse also incorporates a network of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors capable of providing Level 4 autonomous driving features, enabling hands-off and eyes-off driving in most conditions.
Furthermore, the 360-degree theme is evident in the lighting that illuminates a sharp character line encircling the Futuron’s body. A playful and interactive new feature, this lighting responds to physical gestures and movements made outside the car, eliciting a close connection between vehicle and driver before they even set foot in the cabin.
Flexible and autonomous cabin space
The layout of the electric powertrain and incorporation of Level 4 autonomous driving systems has enabled the creation of a spacious and flexible cabin unlike any other vehicle on roads. The two front seats are created out of flexible materials and can offer an upright ‘driving’ position, or a reclined ‘rest’ position, similar to the flexibility afforded to first-class airline passengers. With the activation of the Futuron’s autonomous driving features, the two front seats recline as the steering wheel retracts. The ‘zero-gravity’ seating position this creates helps to reduce fatigue on long journeys.
The Futuron’s seamless interior also reflects its autonomous driving nature, with surfaces flowing uninterrupted from the dashboard and through the door panels. The doors feature the same Star Cloud lighting and scaled Dragon Skin motif found on the outside of the car, creating a glittering interactive ambient lighting system. The ventilation system is also housed behind Dragon Skin scales, which open and close to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the cabin.
One of the most prominent features of the cabin is the ‘cockpit’ area surrounding the driver. The graphical user interface (GUI) of the cockpit flows out of the driver-side door and wraps around the steering wheel in a seamless arc. This merges the instrument cluster directly with the audio-visual display at the centre of the dashboard and is linked to the display integrated within the surface of the steering wheel itself. The GUI is operated by artificial intelligence technologies, displaying useful information about the car various autonomous driving, powertrain and navigation features to create a unique user experience. The apex of the cockpit arc sees the GUI lunge forward towards the road, creating an interactive Star Cloud light display at the very front of the cabin.