Kia is injecting more design flair into its cars as it seeks to produce distinctive, fresher looking models.
Peter Schreyer, Kia chief design officer, says the company is going its own way by making more recognisable, sporty looking cars.
“The front look is key,” he told AM. “Our signature grille is on the Soul and the Magentis facelift. It’s sporty and aggressive looking and all our cars will have it.
“It’s important to have a recognised design language.”
Other common design features that will spread across the model line up include the look of the C-pillar and the lights.
“People look at the price for Korean cars – I want them to look at the design and want to have one; then look at the price,” Schreyer said.
“Their initial interest in the car should come from the emotion.”
He is working on a number of new car designs, both for new segments and reviewing current models.
A C-sector concept car in Korea called Forte features the new-look face and has been confirmed for production.
However, few of Kia’s new cars will have the obvious and immediate impact of the new Soul, due to go on UK sale in spring priced from £10,000-14,000.
Schreyer describes it as a “choker” in the range, a car that plays its own role. He claims the car is hard to categorise: it’s a city car, an urban runabout, a crossover.
“When I think about the Soul, I think about Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic. It’s a crosstown car,” he said.
Schreyer foresees a time when Kia can drop trim derivatives; where cars can be so individually tailored to customers’ requirements that it negates the need for badges. The Soul is his first such car.
“We need to getaway from the typical GL, GLS, GLX – it’s a very traditional approach to marketing,” he said. “I look at cars in a different way.”
It will take several years to get to that position, but he is confident that it will happen.
One hurdle that will need to be overcome is dealer stocking and order times; individuality could cause supply blockages as options will have to be fitted either at Kia’s Humberside import centre or in the dealership.