2013 is still in its infancy but it has already been a productive few months for Kia, the once scoffed-at Korean minnows. However, nowadays small fry they are not, and for the first time earlier this year, a Kia model actually set pulses racing. That car was the C’eed GT hot-hatch and it certainly drew quite a crowd on its official debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. However, hot on its tail is something even more adventurous from Kia, the radical Provo hybrid sports coupe concept.
Apparently inspired by the muscle cars of old, the Provo Concept takes the distinctive power and aggression epitomised by these old war-horses and bottles it up in to a more compact and fun package. In fact, much like your typical overly friendly supermarket assistant, this hatchback is designed to be unapologetically cheeky and cheerful from the outset. Whilst it may be pushing it to label the Provo’s sharply chopped front and rear ends, both featuring adjustable aero-style splitters, as things of beauty, the overall design is nothing if not wacky. The long, flat bonnet, sculpted with twin creases definitely evokes that muscle car nostalgia, although the thin glass panel spanning the width of the nose grille and housing the tiny LED cluster front headlamps does make the Provo somewhat resemble a lost Power Ranger.
Glancing beyond the visor-style wrap-around front windscreen reveals the sort of environment more commonly found inside a stealth fighter. It’s black, very black – and pretty sparse in terms of shiny panels, flashing dials and bleeping monitors, but bizarrely the interior is perhaps the most striking aspect of the entire car. There is no big, bulky centre console dominating the interior; instead the dashboard is fashioned from a single, unimposing carbon fibre panel. The inner door panel, also carbon fibre and matching the exterior body colour, is a stylish touch, whilst the best features of all are the quilted leather front seats made from a single wave-like strip running from one door sill to the other. These rotate rather than fold to provide easier access to the pokey rear seats.
On the road, the Provo’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine will muster over 200BHP, power channeled through Kia’s first ever 7-speed gearbox. But with the help of its trump card, the 4WD hybrid power train, the Provo can call on an extra 45BHP boost through its regenerative electric motor.
As far as production is concerned, there has been no sign of hint-dropping just yet. However, if sales go well with the C’eed and Pro-C’eed GT in the coming months, a pure performance-based hot-hatch is surely the next step in Kia’s continuing evolution as a force to be reckoned with.