One is real, one is Super, and one is the future. Such were Kia's offerings at Thursday's Chicago Auto Show.
The automaker used its news conference to unveil the all-new Kia Forte Hatchback, a special edition Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid show car, and the Cross GT Concept.
Only the Forte Hatchback is confirmed for production. The Optima Hybrid was created in conjunction with DC Comics to raise awareness for DC Entertainment's "We Can Be Heroes" charitable campaign, while the Cross GT was created to tease the design direction of a future Kia product.
Here's a look at Kia's products:
Kia Forte 5-door Hatchback
This front-wheel-drive hatchback is based on the Forte sedan that is headed to dealerships soon. That car is a direct competitor with other compact sedans like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and the Forte's distant cousin, the Hyundai Elantra.
This Kia’s hatchback version (they call it a 5-door) aims to spice things up a bit from the sedan. To do so, the base EX comes with an engine that's optional on the sedan: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. It will be available only with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Buyers looking for more go have the Forte SX to consider. This car comes with a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four cylinder engine not available on the sedan. It puts out 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque and will come with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
In addition to these powertrains, all Forte 5-doors will come with a backup camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, UVO telematics system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Sirius satellite radio, and LED trimmed headlights.
SX models will add to this 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips and LED taillights.
The Forte 5-door will also offer an impressive menu of options, given that this is a compact economy car. Add-ons include HID headlights, a navigation system, moonroof, heated seats (all four) and steering wheel, and leather seats. Kia says this new hatchback will go on sale this summer.
Kia's Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid sedan
Built in conjunction with DC Comics and Super Street magazine, this show car was created to raise awareness for DC Entertainment's charitable drive "We Can Be Heroes."
The Heroes relief effort aims to bring help and hope to people affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, which includes Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
To do so, DC Entertainment is raising awareness of the cause for the non-profit organizations Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and the International Rescue Committee.
To draw more attention to the campaign, DC, the publisher of iconic superhero comics like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman teamed up with Kia in early 2012. The pair will build a total of eight vehicles to be shown at various events like the Chicago Auto Show. The duo had previously unveiled five such cars at the 2012 SEMA show in October.
Kia said the Optima Hybrid car shown Thursday had a number of custom modifications done to represent "the strength and fortitude of the worlds most iconic Super Hero." To that end, the show car featured widened fenders for a more muscular look, a height-adjustable suspension system, and painted designed to invoke Superman's cape. Kia said it has one final car planned for this project, to be unveiled at a later date.
Cross GT Concept
Not content with just watching corporate cousin Hyundai move into the premium market with its Equus and Genesis sedans, Kia is looking to move on up itself. In January, the automaker debuted at the Detroit Auto Show the front-wheel-drive Cadenza sedan, and Kia is also expected to unveil an even larger sedan in the near future.
With a more premium lineup something the company is exploring, it used Thursday's Chicago Auto Show to unveil the Cross GT Concept.
"Our customers are looking to the Kia brand to offer relevant vehicles in the premium segments that take value to new levels of sophistication," said Michael Sprague, Kia's executive vice president of marketing and communications. "The Cross GT is the next logical step in that evolution. And while only a concept today, it signals one possible design direction we may explore for the future."
This crossover SUV concept is based on sedan concept Kia unveiled in 2011, dubbed the GT. It was designed in the same Irvine, Calif. studio responsible for the aforementioned Forte sedan.
A production version of this concept would be larger than Kia's current Sorento crossover SUV, as the concept is more than eight inches longer and four inches wider than the current Sorento.
This concept is a hybrid, and is powered by a 3.8-liter V-6 engine paired with an electric motor for a total of 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. The Cross GT has an eight-speed automatic transmission and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive, Kia said.