Kia, primed and pugnacious

Kia is widely expected to design a rival to the Nissan Juke, that funky compact crossover that is sold across nations and has taken many of them by storm.

But instead, the Korean automaker has rolled out a concept rival to the Veloster, the funky compact hatchback from its corporate sibling, Hyundai.

Based on the platform used by the compact Rio, the Provo Concept is not quite as small as it looks, but the long wheelbase and stubby lines give it a real mini-bruiser look, while the snub nose reconciles a pugnacious attitude with puppy-dog cuteness. Because it is smaller than the Veloster, it is arguably cuter, and because it is far more cohesive than the Mini Coupe it rivals, it is a lot easier to love.

The Provo would also perform well were it built in its concept guise. Here it packs a 204-horsepower, 1.6-litre turbo engine driving the front wheels and a 44hp electric motor driving the rear ones. This provides four-wheel drive where relevant, and purely electric locomotion where fitting. Kia also reserved the debut of its first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for the Provo. Though Kia has not divulged where the transmission or hybrid drivetrain would be applied in its product line, they are clearly looking for a home.

Kia did divulge that market research into the Provo’s production prospects would begin right after the Geneva show. If a sufficient number of people convince Kia of a business case, the Provo could be launched sometime in 2015.

This would please many, but not Unionist MPs in Northern Ireland, for whom ”Provo” is shorthand for the Provisional IRA. Kia has thus been called on to rename the Provo, with some force. The automaker pleads innocence, saying the word is also used to refer to test plates fitted to prototype cars in Italy.

The Provo was designed by Gregory Guillaume, at Kia’s European studios.