IT’S a classic case of what might have been: Kia has officially unveiled the production form of its swoopy, angular Sportspace Concept with electronically variable suspension system and more responsive rack-mounted steering.
Unfortunately, they’ve hosed down the best bits of the vision unveiled in Geneva last year (pictured, below) to blend the showroom model, dubbed the Kia Sportswagon, right into the background. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction.
The Sportswagon – under consideration for Australia, according to Kia’s local arm, to compete against the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6 and Hyundai’s i40 Tourer – will become the first Kia-badged car to feature a two-mode electronic variable suspension system, allowing owners to switch between normal and sport settings.
In Europe, rack- rather than steering column-mounted electrically assisted steering will be standard on GT-badged cars fitted with Kia’s turbocharged 180kW/353Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission, and cars fitted with a 104kW/340Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel sending power to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or seven speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The Sportswagon keeps the same width (1860mm) and length (4855mm) as the Optima sedan, but grows 5mm in height (1470mm) to extend the roofline for the boot.
Up front, the Sportswagon keeps the same face as the Optima sedan, missing out on the sharp and sporty-looking profile of the concept.
Down the rear, the accented twin trapezoidal exhausts and black diffuser of the concept are replaced with a single oval exhaust and features an integrated diffuser.
On the safety front, the European market version of the Sportswagon features a short- and long-range autonomous emergency braking system that works at closing speeds of up to 80km/h, radar cruise control, and even a forward-looking camera that reads speed signs and displays them to the driver.