Rimac will help Kia turn the Imagine concept into a high-performance flagship

Ronan Glon

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The segment-bending Imagine concept Kia unveiled at the 2019 Geneva auto show will spawn a high-performance flagship in 2021. Rimac, which Kia and Hyundai jointly invested in, will help bring it to the market.

"This car will have a significant effect on how consumers perceive Kia and its part in future electrification. We want it to demonstrate super-high performance levels but in a package that is different," affirmed Carlos Lahoz, the automaker's marketing chief, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

"Super-high performance" isn't a term we've ever used to describe a Kia, even the Stinger doesn't merit this label, so Lahoz's comments sketch an image of a model that breaks all ties with members of the company's current range. Croatia-based Rimac, an expert in making quick electric cars, will play a role in the development process.

The extent of Rimac's involvement remains a mystery. Similarly, we don't know how Kia defines the term "super-high performance," and whether it alludes to straight-line speed, Tail of the Dragon-taming handling, or both.

Like the Imagine concept (pictured), the production model will arrive as a sedan-crossover cocktail vaguely reminiscent of the short-lived Volvo S60 Cross Country, among other high-riding four-doors. Its front and rear ends will likely be toned down, but Kia stylists have been on a roll in recent years so we expect a head-turning design. As for the 21-screen infotainment system, which Kia labeled a "humorous riposte" to the industry's obsession with in-car displays, we're betting it won't make the leap from the show floor to the showroom floor. 

The sheet metal will hide a new platform Kia is developing jointly with Hyundai specifically to underpin electric cars. Autoblog understands it will underpin future Genesis models, too. The architecture will be compatible with an 800-volt electrical system that charges the battery from 20% to 80% in 20 minutes, and Autocar reported the Imagine will offer up to 310 miles of driving range, though odds are that's on the optimistic WLTP testing cycle.

Kia's announcement that the Imagine — a name the production version won't wear — will arrive in 2021 suggests it could land on our shores for the 2022 model year. The company hasn't revealed whether it will sell the model in the United States, however.

Don't let the idea of a high-horsepower, quasi-luxury electric car from Kia fool you. The company has moved significantly upmarket in recent years, but it's not planning to challenge Genesis for a piece of its turf.

"We are not a premium brand, we are a mainstream brand, and we have to be true to that heritage. This car will be a halo and be priced accordingly, but it will demonstrate that you can get very high performance levels without having to pay the premium prices of, for instance, Tesla, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz," summed up Lahoz.

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