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Hyundai and Kia concepts debut at Detroit show

Korean manufacturers unveil two new concepts in US

Hyundai Curb concept

Hyundai Curb could be a Nissan Juke rival

The Hyundai Curb and Kia KV7 concepts wowed crowds at the 2011 Detroit North American International Auto Show.

The Hyundai Curb is a compact CUV – that’s Crossover Utility Vehicle – aimed at young buyers and packed technology; the Kia KV7 is a big boxy MPV inspired by the Kia Soul, and out to prove that people carrying needn’t be boring.

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Hyundai Curb Concept: Hi-Tech Rugged

Hyundai describes the design of the Curb Concept as Hi-Tech Rugged, and says it is as at home in an urban environment filled with potholes as one filled with nightclubs.

With features including massive 22-inch alloy wheels, exposed structural elements with glass panels ‘applied like shields’, sleek lights and bold curves, the Hyundai Curb certainly makes a strong impression. Passenger space is cleverly managed, too, with ultra-thin seats made from air-cells similar to those found in running shoes, and a third door for rear occupant access – like that on the Hyundai Veloster coupé (and Mini Clubman).

 Hyundai Curb concept

Curb is Hyundai’s showcase for its new Blue Link system

It also features pop-out exhaust vents that double as a bike rack, and pop-up spars in the roof that form roof rack towers. Entry to the doors and wrap-around bootlid is made via a swipe of a small touchscreen, and the LED lighting illuminates sequentially, including hidden badging that appears from beneath the surface of the specially created paint when lit.

But the Curb’s real focus is on technology. It’s a rolling test-bed for Hyundai’s forthcoming Blue Link system. Similar to OnStar in America, this gives emergency assistance, but can also be used to remotely unlock or start the vehicle, perform diagnostics checks wirelessly, provide a panic alarm, and give turn-by-turn navigation.

Meanwhile the interior of the Curb is filled with screens and monitors – even the steering wheel is opaque to avoid blocking your view of them – there’s a head-up display, and instead of rear view mirrors it has door-mounted cameras. Power comes via a 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine, turbocharged to an estimated 175bhp.

The Hyundai Curb is just a concept, but it strikes us as a potential preview of a forthcoming Nissan Juke rival. Watch this space.

Read about the 3-door Hyundai Veloster, also unveiled at the Detroit show

Kia KV7 concept

KV7 could be the replacement for the Kia Sedona

Kia KV7 Concept: embracing the box

The Kia KV7 is like the Soul made large – a funky seven-seater MPV concept of very boxy proportions.

In fact, it builds directly on the Soul’s embracing the box philosophy. It’s been designated an activity MPV, so it’s supposed to be functional but not boring – hence the inclusion of a lounge-like interior and wild, passenger-side only gullwing door.

This door is supposed to enable the KV7 to function like a ‘social hub’ during outdoor gatherings. There are four individual swivel seats, including one for the driver, plus a three-seater sofa-style arrangement at the rear. The interior is packed with unusual materials, the dashboard moves out six inches when the engine starts, and there is LED lighting throughout.

Kia KV7 concept

Kia KV7 concept’s gullwing door is a standout feature

At the front a large screen integrates all the major controls, operated via a trackball, while in the rear a floating tabletop computer provides an interface for the passengers – including internet access, smartphone connectivity and social networking capabilities.

The whole thing is powered by a 2.0-litre GDI turbo petrol, borrowed from the American specification Optima saloon and providing 285bhp. This drives the 20-inch alloy wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox, aiming for V6 performance but four-cylinder efficiency.

Again, the Kia KV7 is only a concept. But the distinctive design could be just the thing to replace the aging Sedona.

Read our review of the Kia Sedona

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