Design & Technology / Product
All-new Sportage Design Development Story-Interior April 22nd, 2010
By Ralph Kluge, design manager
Jung Hyun Cho, designer
Kia Design Center
Designing for an international brand like Kia is exciting and challenging at the same time. Not only do we designers have to think years ahead into the future, but we also create products that will be understood and appreciated on different continents, by different cultures.
For us, the design of the Kia Sportage is a good example how a holistic approach towards design leads to excellent results.
Since starting the project, it was clear for us designers that we wanted to leap ahead and establish a paradigm shift in the way we look at Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), while at the same time strengthening the new Kia design language in the interior.
If you look at current compact SUVs, you‘ll discover that in the past the main focus was merely on the “utility” side: the cars were practical, but often aren’t show-stoppers to look at. A contradiction to how they are often used, with most SUVs are driven in urban environments, where style and a bit of “show-off” play an increasingly important role.
For the Kia Sportage interior, we clearly put the focus on the “sports” side, as our initial research led to three key phrases, that would accompany our design throughout the Project: “Rugged Elegance”, “Smooth surfacing” and “Hi-Style functionality.” These key phrases led us to balance of clean elegant volumes that still hint at some rugged 4×4 roots.
But how to put real “sportiness” into an compact SUV with a high seating position? It was clear that the driver should sit “in” rather than “on” the car to feel connected and cocooned as in a sports car. Since the Sportage is rather compact, it was important to strike a balance so that this didn’t feel claustrophobic. We achieved this by two significant changes in the architecture of the Sportage’s interior.
Firstly, the horizontal layout of the IP creates a feeling of space by visually stretching the car’s width. Secondly, the high middle console, that in combination with rising feature lines on the doors makes you feel like you are sitting inside of a sporty coupe rather than in an SUV. The Sportage’s exterior, with its high shoulder line and compact glass areas further support this.
The main feature of the IP is the “wing” that seamlessly integrates the radio, airvents and instrument cluster into one clean form. This wing sits in a deep cutout that reinforces the impression of solidity, and at the same time integrates a second level of controls for the HVAC unit below and a second screen above. This two-tier design stretches across the width of the interior, going against the convention of upright, blocky SUV interiors, and creating, instead, a much more harmonious atmosphere. The muscular IP section together with the high level tunnel further enhances the feeling of being in a solid, secure interior.
The interior continues the sporty and high-tech image of the exterior with three-dimensional molding and bold design elements. The prominent crash pad features a three-pot instrument cluster, while the center fascia and unique garnish form add to the modern and upgraded look.
The door trim design is also based on the three-dimensional molding created by internal and external elements. In particular, molding highlights are accentuated with bold color. This detail not only enhances the molding concept of the Sportage interior but completes the sophisticated sportiness of a CUV.
The console side bar was designed to convey a sporty and powerful image while allowing for diverse uses and storage purposes. The round TGS knob cover and connecting side-bar create a novel molding shape.
The refreshing look of the vehicle is the result of tireless efforts by researchers and engineers to bring the designer’s ideas to life. The new Sportage vehicle was a journey of endless internal reviews and evaluations, requiring repeated revisions and constant attention. Therefore, it is the culmination of developers’ unshakable passion and focused desire. So now, Kia customers will be able to drive around knowing they are in an interior that is translated straight from designer sketches, on all levels.