Kia 'Imagine by Kia' electric car: production version spotted testing

Kia's new electric 'halo' car, based on the ‘Imagine by Kia’ SUV concept, has been spotted testing ahead of its 2021 launch

A new Kia electric car, inspired by the March 2019 'Imagine by Kia' SUV concept (see below) and known internally as the Kia CV, has been spotted undergoing testing wearing heavy camouflage.

The test mule pictured in July 2020 appears to combine elements of the Imagine concept at the front end, with aspects seen on November 2019's Futuron concept at the rear – suggesting that the eventual production version could take styling cues from both of those vehicles.

Unlike the existing e-Niro and Soul EV, which share their platform with combustion-engined counterparts, this will be the South Korean brand's first dedicated electric car, using cutting-edge technology to provide a 310-mile range and the ability to charge at up to 350kW, for a sub-20-minute recharge time.

The new model, which doesn't yet have an official name, will use know-how from Kia’s tie-up with Rimac to offer what bosses refer to as “incredible” performance and will squarely target the just-launched Tesla Model Y in the battle for mid-size electric SUV sales.

Speaking to DrivingElectric previously, Kia Europe’s product planning boss Pablo Martinez Masip said: “[Imagine by Kia] will have 800-volt technology like the Porsche Taycan. We want a product that can benefit from our investment in the IONITY 350kW charging network.”

The company will use its first dedicated electric car to showcase what it has planned for future, more affordable models. It'll sit at the top of the Kia product range, acting as a 'halo' car for the brand and forming part of the company's ambitious ‘Plan S’ business strategy. Similar architecture will also underpin the 45 and Prophecy electric cars from Kia's sister brand Hyundai.

The production version of the Imagine by Kia concept is set to launch in early 2021, with first customer deliveries expected later that year. As it's a flagship product, we can expect prices to start from around £50,000.

'Imagine by Kia' concept

The unusually named 'Imagine by Kia' concept was originally described as a "visual embodiment" of a move towards electric cars. The front of the car stands out thanks to an illuminated ‘tiger mask’ encircling the headlights, while conventional wing mirrors have been ditched in favour of cameras that are sleeker and more aerodynamic.

Elsewhere, an illuminated Kia logo sits where the brand’s conventional, oval badge would ordinarily be placed. There's also a pair of grooves interrupting the bonnet line. A single glass panel is used for the windscreen and roof, with the pane tapering into a “double-bubble” above the rear passenger seats. The bronze-coloured paintwork, meanwhile, is intended to represent warmth. It’s made of six hand-applied layers of chrome-effect silver base coats, with the bronze tint added on top.

According to the South Korean manufacturer, the 'Imagine by Kia' has been deliberately designed to not fit into one vehicle category, borrowing elements from SUVs, family saloons and crossovers.

Other notable features are the 22-inch wheels, a spacious four-seat interior and rear-hinged back doors. The two front seats have diamond cross-cut shells, while the rear seats form a bench. On the dashboard there are no less than 21 individual high-resolution displays, curving from one side of the interior to the other, as well as a long 'floating' centre console.