Worthy though its entry level hatchbacks, family minivans and small SUVs may be, Kia is not a brand you'd associate first with a big, V8-powered four wheel drive crossover. But that's just what the Korean automaker showed as a concept vehicle in Detroit this week.

The 4.7-metre long Kue puts the emphasis on performance and was designed primarily as a driver´s vehicle, Kia said.

"While possessing many SUV characteristics and capabilities, the Kue focuses more on giving the driver an exhilarating driving experience - on the open country road and on the way to the home improvement centre - rather than on how much it can carry," the automaker said.

The CUV has a monocoque platform, 22-inch wheels a 2,900 mm wheelbase and an overall length of 4,724 mm. Though purely a concept, it hints at future Kia styling directions, the automaker added.

Twin centreline hinged glass doors open to give access to the rear storage area and a single side door that incorporates a negative-scooped shape opens scissor-style for easy access.

The interior is a four-seat arrangement with individual custom-built bucket seats.

Touch pad and motion-sensing controls are used to adjust such items as the audio and climate systems. The entire touch-pad set up is programmable so that one surface may activate the stereo for one driver and temperature for another. Rear passengers have their own, separate interface.

The engine is a 400-horsepower, DOHC, supercharged 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine that develops 400 lbft (542 Nm) of torque.