2007 Kia Kee Concept

Eric Moon
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The Kia Kee is a sexy surprise from a company that certainly hasn't been known for voluptuous sheetmetal but which continues to advance beyond economy-car status. Kia's Germany-based design studio executed a proper, front-wheel-drive 2+2 with a number of innovative features including a "key stone" of exposed milled aluminum integrated into the B-pillar. The triangular chunk of aluminum, which is visible through the rear side glass, is inspired by the structural members of European cathedrals.

Overall, the Kee is a good-looking car, but if it had been up to us, we would have chosen a different exterior color, as the lime green-ish paint isn't particularly flattering. Furthermore, the big sweep of front LED lights mocks the Audi R8 in a not so clever way, marring an otherwise daring (for Kia) nose.

A clamshell-opening rear hatch and a pair of exhaust pipes any sports car would be jealous of finish off the exterior. The aim for the Kee's interior, says the cabin designer, Frenchman Etienne Salome, was simplicity rather than "wacky" or "freaky" design elements. A flat-bottom steering wheel, paddle shifters, a solid piece of aluminum for the center tunnel, and well-located, sporty gauges are complemented by what Salome calls "microvelvet" material, which is applied to the door panels, the instrument panel, and the steering wheel. It's a bit like Alcantara to the touch, but with a rubbery undertone.

Presumably, the Kee represents Kia's future design direction, although a production-based car would not appear until early in the next decade.

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