This is what an SUV concept should look like

The Pininfarina K350 concept finally broke cover at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show. Designed for Hong Kong-based automaker Hybrid Kinetic Group (HKG), the K350 is a fully electric SUV concept that the automaker is preparing to develop with the H600 and H500 electric sedan concepts. It’s still not confirmed if HKG is giving the green light to build any of these concepts, but if it does, look for the K350 SUV to be the most prominent of the three. Not only is it an EV, but it’s also an SUV, which, as we all know, is a segment that’s selling like hotcakes these days.

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior
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The K350 doesn’t have to deal with that because Pininfarina did a masterful job in giving it an identity of its own.

I just recently mentioned how impressed I was with the design of the Pininfarina K350 Concept. A few good night’s sleep hasn’t changed my mind. It still looks awesome, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, of all the concepts that were shown in Beijing, this is the one that HKG decides to build first.

I’m a big fan of SUVs that don’t try hard to be what they aren’t. Sure, there should always be an element of sportiness to them, but if they’re designed to look like high-riding sports cars, then they start suffering from a little identity crisis. The K350 doesn’t have to deal with that because Pininfarina did a masterful job in giving it an identity of its own. The smooth body, for example, is a great touch. It gives the SUV a fresh look. The body lines flow smoothly, a sign that Pininfarina resisted giving it too many layers. There are no overlapping elements, either. You can take a complete walkaround, and you’ll see how every panel seamlessly transitions to the other.

The front design is excellent. There’s a good balance between the thin-slit headlights, HK’s signature grille, and the vertical slats. The bumper is where you’ll see most of the body cuts, but they’re put in the right places to serve the right intentions. The horizontal line below the headlights is there to emphasize the SUV’s face while the contoured panel surrounding the intakes gives the section a chiseled look.

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior
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As impressive as the front section is, the rear end of the K350 is even better.

The hood gets high marks, too, in part because it doesn’t have any aggressive creases that could steal attention away from the overall design. It does have a pair of what appears to be aesthetic trim on opposite ends. I wouldn’t put it there if I were designing the car.

As impressive as the front section is, the rear end of the K350 is even better. I’ve gotten used to the end-to-end light setup, so it’s nothing special here on its own. But if you combine it with how Pininfarina used body lines to separate specific sections instead of actual panels, it gives off a crisp look that we don’t always see on SUVs. The way the roof slopes into the rear hatch also plays a part in the design.

If anything, the only thing I don’t like about the concept’s exterior is the set of wheels. They’re far too aggressive for a concept. But other than that, I’m not changing my mind on my initial thoughts about the K350’s exterior. It’s a work of art.

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Interior and Technology

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Interior
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The entire digital unit can be flipped out and pushed back into the dashboard.

The concept’s exterior is its best feature, but the interior design does well for itself, too. In keeping with its concept form, we get to see a lot of “what-the-heck-is-that" design elements in the cabin. I’m not going to bother with the premium materials because you can see a lot of them covering a majority of the surface area in the interior.

I will start with the dashboard, which actually doubles as housing for the stretched instrument cluster and infotainment system. It’s unclear how it works, but from the looks of it, the entire digital unit can be flipped out and pushed back into the dashboard. There’s another display unit occupying the space in the central tunnel that appears to float diagonally. It’s located near the gear selector panel, which conveniently kicked out the shifter in place of actual buttons that you can push to change gears. It’s great for a concept, but I’m not optimistic that it can translate into the production model.

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Interior
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Move to the seats, and you’ll realize that Pininfarina made liberal use of the floating design technique in the cabin

Move to the seats, and you’ll realize that Pininfarina made liberal use of the floating design technique in the cabin. In addition to the display unit, all four seat cushions are connected to the center armrest. There’s nothing underneath them so, from a visual perspective; they look like they’re floating too. The cushions are also separated from the seatbacks and, again, there’s no support underneath them, either. It’s a novel design feature that also creates invaluable space on the floor, but can it be done on a production model? Unless HKG can come up with a material that can withstand the weight of adult people sitting on these floating cushions, I don’t think you’ll see it in a production version of the K350.

That said, Pininfarina squeezed out a lot of creativity in designing this space. Should we have expected anything less?

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Performance and Range

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior
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Pininfarina did say that with its powertrain, the K350 can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds before hitting a top speed of 155 mph

Concepts rarely get specific engines to pair with their concept design. It’s no different with the Pininfarina K350. Neither Pininfarina nor HKG went into the specifics of what’s powering the concept. Instead, we’re told that the SUV has electric motors that produce 403 horsepower. It also has a control unit and a range extender, the latter of which comes into play to help the concept achieve a ridiculous range of 621 miles. The standard range was not announced, but Pininfarina did say that with its powertrain, the K350 can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds before hitting a top speed of 155 mph. They’re not mind-blowing numbers but, like with most EVs, range is just as important — if not more important, as top speed.

If this concept can really do 621 miles on a single charge with a range extender in the mix, then it’d be able to travel from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, Utah on a single charge. Incredible.

Final Thoughts

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior
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I’ve gushed over the Pininfarina K350 enough. I think it’s a tremendously designed concept by Pininfarina that HKG would be smart to find a way to turn into a production model. I don’t know if it will, but I think it’d be a waste if the K350 ends up being an out-of-sight-out-of-mind concept. It deserves to be built into a production model.

At the end of the day, isn’t that the highest praise you can give a concept?

References

2018 Pininfarina K350 Concept Exterior
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Pininfarina K350 Concept is The Electric SUV You Want To See Hit The Road

Pininfarina's H500 Concept Proves That The Design House Has Serious Goals of Becoming an Automaker
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Pininfarina’s H500 Concept Proves That The Design House Has Serious Goals of Becoming an Automaker

2017 Pininfarina H600
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Pininfarina H600 Mates Luxury And Style With High-Tech Hybrid Power.

2018 Pininfarina HK GT
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Read our full review on the 2018 Pininfarina HK GT.

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Read more 2018 Beijing Auto Show news.

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Read more Pininfarina news.

Press Release

At Auto China 2018 a full range of electric vehicles developed by Pininfarina
Turin, 25 April 2018–Pininfarinaand Hybrid Kinetic Groupadd new members to the family of electric cars born out of their collaboration at the Auto China2018 in Beijing, confirming their joint effort to develop clean energy vehicles while at the same time continuing to refine the identity of Hong Kong’s high-tech brand. World premiere for two new models, the H500 saloon, and the 4-seater K350 SUV, on display alongside the HK GTgran Turismo, which was presented a few weeks ago at the Geneva Motor Show.

The three cars, which share a clear, straightforward design language in perfect Pininfarina style, are all equipped with the cutting-edge technology developed by HK for the traction system, with battery, electric motors with a power rating of over 300 kW, control unit and a range extender that enables a range of over 1000 km to be achieved. The three models are capable of reaching a top speed of 250 kph and acceleration from 0 to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds (the saloon) and 4.7 seconds (the SUV). It is exactly this advanced technology, together with better ergonomics and sophisticated materials, that embody the philosophy of the Hybrid Kinetic Group.

The first of the two new Pininfarina products for Beijing is the H500 electric saloon that combines elegance and sportiness, pure forms and sophisticated details, designed for a dynamic lifestyle. The body is characterized by inclined ribbing that traverses the vehicle, giving tension and lightness and defining full, sober volumes. The front grille, now a signature HK feature, has even more character, while the two side air intakes emphasize the sporty, youthful positioning. The interior, featuring four single units like four comfortably protective cocoons, is a multimedia experience, with adjustable touch screens for both front and rear passengers, as well as a touchscreen that slides on the door panels making it easier to share entertainment.

The K350, on the other hand, is the most compact SUV in the range. Its proportions are perfect, its volumes lie well on the wheels, and its “body” is sturdily athletic. With the K350, the evolution of the codes and DNA created by Pininfarina for HK points the product in the direction of a wider, certainly young demographic, and an all-round use of the vehicle due to a design in which refinement and elegance coexist naturally with strength and sturdiness. The extremely refined seats become the fulcrum of the interior, bringing the passengers into contact both emotionally and architecturally and creating a light structure that shapes the space around it.

Finally, the HK GT, fresh from the critical acclaim it recorded at the Geneva Motor Show, is an elegant, refined and comfortable special car that skilfully combines pure design with environmentally friendly technology. And with a strong personality, characterized by the gullwing door opening that makes it unique and outstanding in the GT panorama.

The collaboration between Pininfarina and HK has already resulted in the H600luxury saloon presented at the Geneva Motor Show 2017 and the K550 5-seater and K750 7-seater SUV presented at the Shanghai Motor Show 2017.

“Hybrid Kinetic Group is a sound, crucial partner for Pininfarina”, explains CEO Silvio Pietro Angori. “We are creating a new range of electric vehicles together and preparing the way for their commercial debut with the presentation of the first Hybrid Kinetic produced car for the international market. The three models presented in Beijing are just another step forward in a long-term and fruitful relationship”.

Pininfarina was the first Italian design house to provide styling and engineering services to Chinese car manufacturers from 1996 onwards. Since then, Pininfarina has expanded its range of activities by developing partnerships with manufacturers such as AviChina (Hafei), Chery, Changfeng, Brilliance, BAIC, JAC and others, for which highly commercially successful vehicles have been designed, such as the DX7, the first outcome of collaboration between Pininfarina and South East Motor-SEM, which was followed in 2016 by the DX3 concept, a compact SUV that anticipates the next production car, also developed by Pininfarina in Italy.

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