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The automotive world might still be congregating at the New York International Motor Show, but Kia has used the Seoul Motor Show to debut a new concept – a four-door fastback called the Kia Novo – that showcases the future design direction for its compact cars.

Based on a modified Cerato platform, the Novo features a wider, more inset iteration of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille, flanked by slim laser-powered headlights. Underneath them sit low, wide air intakes that house yet more laser lights, accentuating the car’s broad stance.

The clean bodyside is broken up by a sharp crease that runs off the shutline of the clamshell bonnet, prominent rear haunches, aluminium side vents and impossibly slim aluminium wing mirrors. The glasshouse is reminiscent of the Optima‘s, with a C-pillar kink and a rear windscreen that is visually aligned to the rear side windows, separated by an aluminium bar.

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Coming to the rear, there are broad tail lights (again powered by lasers), diffuser-like fins low down and triangular exhausts, while crisp lines are said to enhance the Novo’s aerodynamic efficiency. Large 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels with carbon inserts complete the look.

Opening the suicide doors reveals a cabin that continues the minimalist driver-oriented look set by recent Kia concepts. Behind the sporty three-spoke steering wheel sits an instrument cluster that puts up information through a three-dimensional hologram display.

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Next to it, a touch pad enables the driver to manipulate vehicle functions without taking their eyes off the road, and features a fingerprint reader to set up individual features such as music selection, audio volume and information displayed according to each driver’s preferences. The four sports seats are upholstered in brown leather and incorporate the inertia reel seat belts.

Under the bonnet, a turbocharged Kappa 1.6 litre T-GDI engine sends power to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The “adaptive concave profile” tyres are unique to the Novo, and features a sunken middle section to cool the rubber and disperses excess road water for better grip in the wet. The slim contact patches on the outer edges of the tyres reduces rolling resistance and road noise.