One of the highlights of today's Chicago auto show was the Kia Cross GT Concept CUV (crossover utility vehicle), the South Korean car maker's vision of a vehicle for customers after something larger than a Sorento SUV.
The Cross GT Concept CUV, which is based on the Kia GT Concept, is unlike an SUV in that it’s meant to be far more car-like while offering similar practicality to an SUV. Kia insists the show vehicle is purely conceptual at this stage but we suspect it has potential to make it to production, at least for the North American market, in the coming years.
Kia’s head of design (also now in charge of design for sister company Hyundai), Peter Schreyer, was largely in charge of designing the original GT, but the Cross is the work of the Kia America design centre in Irvine, California – the same folks that penned the new Kia Cerato.
“The debut of the GT in 2011 heralded a new frontier for Kia, both from a design and a business perspective. It beautifully illustrated to the world that the brand was ready to explore the possibility of perhaps one day offering a full-size rear-drive luxury saloon. The Cross GT, with its raised stance and large cargo area, allows us to envision the GT in the form of a full-size luxury crossover,” Schreyer said.
Measuring 4.89m long (21cm more than Sorento), 2m wide (12cm wider than Sorento) and 1.66m high (4cm less than Sorento), the Kia GT Cross concept is by no means a small car. Nonetheless, the concept can only accommodate four passengers, which is likely to change if it makes it to production.
The GT Cross is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 hybrid, which is coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. Kia says its electric motor and V6 engine combine for 298kW of power and an impressive 678Nm of torque. It can run on pure electricity for roughly 32km before requiring the assistance of the petrol engine for recharge.
Being a true concept means it also gains novelty features such as suicide doors and a three-piece glass roof. Nonetheless, the likelihood of a car based on the GT concept going into production appears more likely now than ever, so, would Australia get the Cross GT if it ever made it that far?
“It’s not a car that would have any real priority in Australia," admitted Kia's national public relations manager, Kevin Hepworth.
"Trying to place it against something in the market now, it’s almost a Range Rover competitor if they juice it up properly.”
In a sense, it’s a Mercedes-Benz R-class competitor, a CUV that sold just 213 units in Australia in 2012.
Furthermore, if it ever went to production, it’s likely to be built at Kia’s plant in Alabama, which means it may be a left-hand-drive only model. Either way, it’s unlikely that an Australian appearance is likely any time soon.