Kia's compact four-seater urban CUB concept


March 29, 2013

Kia's compact four-seater CUB concept at Auto Shanghai

Kia's compact four-seater CUB concept at Auto Shanghai

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Kia's new CUB concept unveiled at the Seoul Auto Show has been designed with the trendy urban demographic in mind. Measuring just 13 feet (3.96 m) long, the concept vehicle still manages to provide space for four within its compact cabin.

Designed at Kia’s Seoul design studio under the direction of President and Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, the CUB has rearward-opening rear doors and an "access-all-areas" interior concept. Essentially, the design team left the B-pillars out, hence the all access thing. Clever though, as it looks to significantly improve ingress and egress for the trend setters.

On the outside there are a number of personalized design cues going on. Side mirrors are almost non-existent, while strange little upturned winglets on the doors that Kia refers to as “turning vanes” look to be more nautical than dry land effective. These aerodynamic vanes at sill level are designed to streamline and add definition to the CUB’s profile.

On the hood, recessed "wing treatments" similar to the CUB’s hood and door details can be found. From the front, the CUB’s distinctive snickering, mustachioed face reminds one of the infamous masks used by Anonymous. Headlights feature two-point LED lights, similar to those on the Kia Quoris, while big 19-inch alloy wheels fill out the stubby wheel arches.

With seating for four the CUB’s interior is trimmed in black leather with yellow seat accents around the armrests and steering wheel. Think Bumblebee with suicide doors and twin-turbochargers. Kia says the instrument panel was inspired by wild animal eyes – although they look more robot-eyed than animal to us. The gauge cluster is deepset binnacle behind a thick, three-spoke steering wheel – which, by the way, can monitor your biorhythms. The dash overall is a minimalist affair with air vents controlled by a touch sensor and a place for an iPhone.

A DIS (Driving Information System) controller, similar to Xbox’s Kinect system, is connected to a gesture camera. With what Kia calls “well-defined motions,” drivers can scroll through and select menu items via the center display. So now you have people throwing about Dance Dance Fever like "motions" in an attempt to turn the AC down. I can’t see this being a problem ever.

Cute and urban trendy is nice but to ensure the CUB isn’t made fun of on the freeway, Kia has placed a new 1.6 liter engine with direct injection under the hood. This powerplant, recently confirmed for use in Kia’s “pro_cee’d GT” and “cee’d GT” in Europe, should provide ample power for most situations.

Fitted with twin-scroll turbochargers and beefed up internal bits, the CUB’s new engine generates 51 percent more power – 204 hp (154 kW) – and 60 percent more torque – 195 lb. ft. (265 Nm) – than the boring old 1.6 engine. In partner with six-speed manual gearbox, the wee CUB is reported to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in a sort of quick 7.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph).

Looking to go head to head with the Mini, this turning-vaned, suicide-doored, turbocharged urban assault vehicle could be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, there are no plans to put the Kia CUB concept into production as yet.

Source: Kia

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. With an education in automotives and marketing, Angus has rebuilt the carburetor on his 1963 Rambler Ambassador twice, gotten a speeding ticket in an F430 once, and driven & photographed everything from Lamborghinis to Maseratis to various German and Asian designs. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine. All articles by Angus MacKenzie

This should be put into production exactly as the concept is presented. attractive little car that i would buy if priced right.

Denis Klanac

I want this in my driveway NOW! Hear that KIA?


good looking car. little too graphical tho, I want to see more surface treatment.


Clever! But drop the arm-waving controller idea ... totally impractical on the road. Bad enough that people still talk on mobile phones while driving. Can you imagine an expressive Italian driver getting totally screwed by the camera mis-reading his expressive punctuation on the phone, or even talking to his passenger?

The Skud

No denying Peter Schreyer's influence in the design. From a rear 3/4 viewpoint, the proportions and rear light treatment remind me of an Audi A1. It is a good looking car though. Hopefully, the final design of the production vehicle doesn't differ too much from the concept.

David Fobrogo

It appears that the writer made a mistake about the doors. Most cars have rearward-opening doors, this one is different because the rear doors are forward-opening and are known as suicide doors because the wind can catch them and possibly allow a rear passenger to fall out.

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