Better late than never, Kia is racing to catch up to key competitors by adding a flood of new sport-utility vehicles to its line-up, and its giving a hint of what’s coming with two SUVs concepts making their debut at this week’s Seoul Motor Show.
The two bookend Kia’s future utility line-up, the Masterpiece hinting at a large SUV with serious off-road capabilities, while the Signature suggests where Kia will be heading with a compact urban crossover.
“While each of the concepts hint at the direction Kia’s designers could take in future, each also illustrates different elements of the brand’s future model strategy (in terms of) in terms of design, layout and use of technology,” the automaker said in a statement previewing the debut of the two new utility vehicles.
(Click Here for a review of the new Kia Telluride.)
Those who follow Kia closely might recognize the new Signature Concept. With only a few, subtle updates, such as the wheels, it’s the same as the Kia SP Concept that was first revealed at Auto Expo 2018 in Delhi, India last year.
The latest version is itself near production ready, according to several observers, with only minor tweaks expected, notably to the undersized sideview mirrors on the Seoul show car. is
Signature “hints at the company’s plans to introduce a new small SUV for its global markets,” the automaker said in its news release. That means it will slot under the current Sportage model.
Whether the Signature nameplate will carry over into production remains to be seen, some expecting it might be renamed the Tusker, at least in the States. And Kia has yet to discuss specific marketing plans, though, an American version, whatever it’s called, would target competitors like the new Mazda CX-3.
Despite its diminutive size, Kia aimed to give the Signature a larger, more planted feel, with a wide grille, long hood, and, around back, rear lamps and accent lines that run from corner to corner. The silhouette suggests Kia designers took a nod to the groundbreaking, albeit far more up-market Range Rover Evoque with a roofline that tapers towards the rear. The Signature features the classic Kia “tiger nose” grille, of course, here framed by thin LED headlamps.
(Hyundai teases 8th-gen Sonata. Click Here to check it out.)
Expect to see a 2.0-liter inline-four as its primary engine, though other options could be made available in different markets.
Kia suggests we’ll see a production version of the Signature concept revealed “later in 2019.” But we’ll see another compact Korean crossover well before then. As is so often the case, Kia’s partner brand, Hyundai, will roll out its own, sub-Kona CUV at the New York International Auto Show next month. Dubbed the Hyundai Venue, it will share the same underlying architecture as the Kia.
At the other extreme, the Kia Mohave Masterpiece concept is a classic, full-size, go-anywhere SUV that appears to rely on the same, underlying platform as the new Kia Telluride, as well as the Hyundai Palisade recently launched by its sibling brand.
Exactly how the smaller of the two marques will differentiate a production Masterpiece remains to be seen. But its design suggests the carmaker will emphasize the new model’s ruggedness. Among other things, it features the broadest application yet of that tiger nose grille which melds into the ute’s headlamps. The design of the nose is mimicked around back.
(Click Here for more on our first drive in the 2019 Kia Sorento.)
“The Masterpiece hints at how the brand could adapt its latest designs and features for the large off-road SUV segment,” Kia said.
While Masterpiece is designed for the Kia brand, the concept may also provide a preview of what’s coming from the Korean parent’s third, and newest, brand, Genesis. A variation may return for that luxury market as its planned GV90 model due out shortly after the turn of the decade. In that configuration it might wind up sharing both the turbocharged inline-six and V-8 models currently offered for the Genesis brand’s sedan flagship, the G90.