The Kia Provo concept is a clear signal that the South Korean brand is planning an ambitious move to take on the Mini.
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Kia has unveiled its stunning “coupe-style hatchback” concept the day before its official debut at the 2013 Geneva motor show.

The Kia Provo is said to “mix ultra-modern technology with luxury materials”, two factors that clearly pitch the concept into the profitable world of premium small cars that is dominated by Mini but includes other players such as the Citroen DS3.

While the design makes a statement, so does the technology.

Firstly, the Kia Provo debuts the company’s new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that will initially be added to other production models.

There’s also an all-wheel-drive system that employs an electric motor to provide a 33kW power boost to the rear wheels during cornering or acceleration.

That combines with the front wheels that are powered by the same 150kW 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as found in the new Kia Pro_Cee’d hot-hatch that has just been confirmed for Australia.

The Kia Provo can also run in rear-wheel-drive, electric-only mode at low speed, while the electric motor is recharged on the go via regenerative braking.

Kia says the Provo is designed for fun and will deliver exciting handling – a trademark of the Mini.

At 3.88 metres long, 1.77m wide and 1.35m high, the Kia Provo’s dimensions certainly place it right in the Mini ballpark.

Provo seems to take design cues from a range of brands, with elements such as the wraparound windscreen (Saab), floating-style roof (Mini) and the rollover-bar-mimicking rear roof section (Smart).

The aggressive-looking front end incorporates large lower air intakes with a carbonfibre splitter and headlights that comprise a cluster of 850 LEDs.

The driver can select from multiple configurations for the LED lighting design within the headlight, including options for something funny or racy depending on the mood.

Scalloped flanks include doors with flush-fitting, electronically operated door handles. Joining the car’s profile are huge, 19-inch wheels.

Expensive materials for the dark-themed interior include carbonfibre that’s used for the entire dash, and polished aluminium for the inner door releases, footrest and pedals.

One of the most striking aspects of the Kia Provo cabin is the single-piece, wave-like construction used to form the two front seats – covered in diamond-quilted leather.

Access to the “occasional” rear seats is via a great concept touch. The backrests of the front seats don’t fold forward in conventional style but are instead positioned on a rotating aluminium rack that turns them towards the centre of the car to create a gap.

A red engine start-stop button sits on the end of a rotary stalk that protrudes from the lower dash and is the transmission selector.

The larger dial is a ‘Multimedia Interface Controller’ that enables the driver to choose the appropriate array of screen displays for the occasion.

In Normal mode, the graphic display ahead of the driver shows a large speedo and rev counter, plus sat-nav instructions.

Select Cruise and the display switches to a large map with route instructions and speedo. Track is large rev counter, track map and lap timer.

There’s also an entertainment-focused display.

The Kia Provo isn’t confirmed for production yet, but Kia says the “fun-focused concept … points to Kia Motors’ future B-segment [city car] expansion plans”.

Join the comment thread below to offer your verdict on whether Kia should build the Provo.