Fu­ture looks small and clean

Kia’s con­cept car will not cost the earth, writes Karla Pin­cott

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

THE Kia Pop is not the next Kia Rio. But the tiny elec­tric con­cept car that starred at the Paris Mo­tor Show is a glimpse into a fu­ture where our roads are pop­u­lated by cute, an­i­mal-like ve­hi­cles.

For the moment, that vi­sion is mainly in the mind of Kia chief de­signer Peter Schreyer.

The man re­spon­si­ble for the orig­i­nal Audi TT is giv­ing Kia de­sign a ma­jor makeover, with the Pop one of the early point­ers to the fu­ture.

‘‘We wanted this car to act as a loose nu­cleus, a wild atom,’’ Schreyer says.

The Pop doesn’t point at the style of the next gen­er­a­tion of cars, but looks fur­ther into the fu­ture.

What you see that far over the hori­zon is aimed at the small­est nu­cleus of a nu­clear fam­ily. The ul­tra-com­pact con­cept car seats three — two in the front and one an­gled in the rear.

It’s been given an al­most­car­toon­ish ver­sion of the Schreyer tiger-face split grille, now be­ing bolted on ev­ery new Kia, and dressed in the kind of liv­ery that can’t help but at­tract at­ten­tion, with pur­ple ac­cents on the body echoed in the cabin, ob­long side win­dows and a full glass roof.

That fu­tur­ism car­ries through to the in­stru­ments, with in­for­ma­tion ap­pear­ing on a trans­par­ent dis­play in front of the steer­ing wheel. Rear vi­sion is done us­ing cam­eras in each door.

The most in­ter­est­ing part of the Pop can be found un­der­neath its colour­ful skin. The Pop has a ze­roe­mis­sion, 190Nm elec­tric mo­tor pow­ered by com­pact, ef­fi­cient, lithium poly­mer bat­ter­ies.

The bat­tery bank can recharge fully in six hours, an easy overnight or work-shift task, and give a max­i­mum range of 160km and top speed of 140km/h.

Schreyer says he can see some­thing like the Pop hit­ting the road for real, us­ing its cute and friendly fac­tor to en­dear its clean technology to buy­ers.

‘‘We did it, not to prove that we can do an elec­tric car, but to show how charm­ing an elec­tric car can be,’’ he says.

‘‘At the moment it’s a study (but) I think it would be nice to think, what the roads would be like in a city if you had many of them, like lit­tle an­i­mals, run­ning around.’’

‘‘It will change the en­vi­ron­ment and to see the traf­fic would change the per­cep­tion (of cars). It would be quite nice.’’

Bright: the colour­ful and fu­tur­is­tic Kia Pop has a ze­roe­mis­sion, 190Nm elec­tric mo­tor.

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