GENEVA – Kia's new Sportspace concept serves two very important purposes for the Korean automaker.
The bright red concept gives us our first look at the next generation of the Kia Optima.
It's is also an opportunity for the automaker to experiment with the wagon form factor.
True to its name, the Sportspace concept is sporty and spacious.
Large wheels feature carbon fiber inserts.
Carbon fiber trim also punctuates the rear end, highlighting the pentagonal dual exhaust tips.
Large LED tail lights are of a horizontal design and mesh well with the wagon's tidy rear end.
I'm largely a fan of the design, but this fender vent seems a bit haphazardly positioned and out of place.
The wheels enshroud large sport brakes.
The automaker's "Tiger Nose" grille shape continues to evolve and now integrates the blackened headlamp housings. Something about this angle reminds me of the VW GTI's current design.
Conceptual LED headlamps are attractively subdued, but almost certainly aren't street legal.
Inside, the Sportspace's design sort of loses the plot. The wagon features a central spine that runs from the front bumper to the rear cargo space.
On this center console, you'll find physical controls for infotainment and the shifter for the automatic gearbox.
Front controls feature a combination of knurled metal rockers and rollers, as well as a large control knob for navigating menus.
Rear passengers get their own control panel that is similar to the front bank.
The main screen is an ultra-wide display that sticks out of the dashboard like a tablet.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel has a sparse and purposeful look.
Just ahead of the wheel is the digital instrument cluster, which the driver can use to display a parts of the infotainment interface.
The rear seats don't look very Sportspacious. The central spine necessitates individual buckets rather than a 3-seat bench. This definitely won't make production.
The Sportspace concept's elongated rear end leaves a lot of room for cargo.
Wagons may not be very popular in the States, but they're a massive market for the rest of the world. Kia needs to leave its mark in this space.
Some of the Optima sedan's design cues look a bit odd on the wagon (such as the chrome accent that continues awkwardly from the top of the rear windows)
By and large, the Sportspace concept is a gorgeous concept that gets our hope high for the automaker's next move.
Under the hood, the Sportspace is powered by a turbocharged, direct injected 2.0-liter gasoline engine.
We were hoping for all-wheel drive, but the concept keeps it realistic with a front-wheel drive powertrain.