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Kia Design – Decoding the finer elements of Korea’s design powerhouse
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Kia Design – Decoding the finer elements of Korea’s design powerhouse

By Suvrat Kothari

Published on :
Kia Design – Decoding the finer elements of Korea’s design powerhouse

If you’re a car enthusiast who always keeps an eye out for what happens in the auto industry, you must have noticed the latest commercial by Kia Motors; a bunch of ballerinas hanging out with football players in a room with a tiger yawning and a hummingbird performing aerial acrobatics. Adding to the randomness of it all, there was also an astronaut, some fireflies, Felix the Cat and a bizarre slinky spring. But just when things started to slip into the surreal, all of them disappear in a cloud of smoke and through it emerges the beautiful Kia Stinger in its sexy California Red paint job. And that’s when Kia Motor India’s TVC made perfect sense.

Ballerinas represent style and elegance. Footballers are all about control, agility and skill. Astronauts are associated with technology and innovation. Hummingbirds are known for their aerial stability, balance and speed. Felix the anthropomorphic cat is known for its creativity and youthfulness. And the tiger? Well, all Kia cars sport the Tiger Nose grille and the striped apex predator is also a symbol of power.

Kia Design Stories – part one – click here

This isn’t a cartoon story for your 6-year-old here. Even though Kia’s design inspirations are far from conventional, their creations have impressed experts from across the globe. In the last issue, we decoded Kia’s core design philosophies and saw how the global design studios are contributing to the brand’s success. This month we’re looking into how these elements and inspirations of Kia Design are incorporated into their cars. Also, with the launch of the Seltos right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to understand how the company has managed to build such a flawless design.

Exterior design

Let’s take the latest generation of the Soul urban crossover that ed drove in Seoul recently. It is a great example to highlight the fine exteriors of a typical modern-day Kia. The new Soul’s Tiger Nose grille isn’t as evident as it is in other Kia cars where the grille sits between the bumper and the bonnet, while strong chrome lines form the famous shape. In the new Soul, the hexagonal radiator grille is embedded within the bumper and two extremely thin Tiger Nose-shaped panels are placed above and below the grille. One has to really observe closely to notice this subtle yet significant design cue. Even though the Soul’s proportions are tall boy-ish, attention to finer details make it very attractive. After all, it kickstarted Kia’s winning streak at the Red Dot Design Awards in 2009. And even today it remains a desirable car in the global markets.

Read our Kia Soul EV first drive review here

Interior design

There can be no better example than the Stinger, the first Kia car to sport the marque’s new design language. Everybody went gaga over its exterior design, but did the interiors impress as well? Very much! Hints of Tiger Nose are carried over to the inside as well. A thin silver strip borderlines the dash all the way up to the steering column in the same flowing manner of the exterior grille.

It’s another subtle element that showcases brand value. Similar silver strips flow through the door panels and above the door handles as well. This reminds us of the ‘Simplicity of a straight line’ philosophy which is one of the main elements of Kia Design. The turbo-fan shaped air-con vents and the large touchscreen in the centre are just multiple cherries on top of the cake.

Test drive review – Kia Stinger GT – click here

Kia Design and performance

The launch of the Seltos SUV is right around the corner, but before that let’s take a look at another of Kia’s global SUV. When it comes to SUVs, a Kia wouldn’t strike instantly, but the biggies from US and Japan surely would. But the Sportage has muscled up against them and to supplement its sex appeal, offers some great oomph as well. In the global markets, its top-of-the-line variant is propelled by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that makes 236.7bhp and 352Nm of torque. It’s combined with an intelligent AWD drivetrain that uses electronic sensors for power distribution. Driver-activated low-speed traction too helps in slippery conditions on poor roads. Focus on design clearly doesn’t compromise technology and engineering.

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The Stinger, on the other hand, masters aerodynamics. It sports some functional adornments. The front air curtain, wheel arch gills and integrated rear diffuser that boosts its performance. They play a key role in ensuring high-speed stability. The chrome accent line along the fastback silhouette runs from the A-pillar to the base of the rear screen. When you look at it in profile you don’t notice the coke-bottle waist. But from the rear you see the car has proper hips. Kia has made sure that their flagship isn’t just about outright power and hard-edged dynamics. It’s also about luxury, comfort and grace. The GT’s cabin quality and pliant ride is up there with the German rivals.

Looking forward

Globally, the brand has gone from being just a bargain to a challenger. In India, buying a Kia won’t merely be a rational decision, but also an emotional one, because a good-looking car isn’t a need — it’s a want. But Kia cars aren’t just designers’ indulgences; they also have strong purpose to them. And Kia’s Indian journey is set to carry the trend forward, first with the Seltos and later with international bestsellers coming in every six months. And that Kia TVC? That has garnered more than 200 million views in India. 200 million! If you stumble across it while switching channels, don’t ignore it, for there is a whole lot of meaning behind it. And you never know, it might even inspire you to buy a Kia in the future.