Design & Technology / Product
Behind the coupe-like package June 18th, 2010
By Package Technology Team 3
The silhouette is often the first impression of anything we see. The first impression of an automobile is also determined from the outline of the body, and the profile and roofline form key elements in determining a car’s image. Today, we learn about how package engineers found the ideal silhouette befitting the development concept of the all-new Sportage.
Drawing the profile of a compact CUV
Creating a compact CUV image to complement city driving required the interior design to be as spacious as possible while the roofline needed to be as low as possible. After some initial ideas were discussed, it was decided to continue the look of the concept car Kue which debuted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2007. However, Kue stood only 1,600mm tall compared to the previous Sportage (code named KM) which measured 1,695mm. Accordingly, as work began on developing a follow-up model to the KM, package engineers were faced with the question of how to lower the roofline but keeping it spacious enough for an SUV.
In tackling the first task of trying to retain the Kue concept, the team found that they could not reproduce the same design elements with the existing engineering conditions for passenger access. A new solution was necessary for the driver’s seat. To lower the roofline and satisfy consumers around the world, engineers lowered the driver’s position by 30mm compared to the KM and provided appropriate levels of forward and backward sliding seats that would be welcomed by drivers in the US, Europe and Korea. The second major task was securing enough space for drivers to enter or exit the vehicle in a comfortable way. Engineers were not satisfied with merely adjusting the driver’s seat. Accordingly, they created a mock-up vehicle using the previous Sportage (KM) and asked the opinions of 30 male and female researchers in the R&D center. As predicted, the respondents were critical of the cramped in feeling they received due to the A pillar, front and rear roof. This led to countless adjustments in the roofline of Kue which also considered the average physical conditions of drivers in the US or Germany. Thus engineers secured conditions that pushed the limits of passenger access. The third task was to secure enough headroom for the front and second row passengers. It was difficult to determine how much headroom was needed to satisfy customers while installing the new panorama sunroof system and maintain the ideal headroom befitting the CUV concept.
The beauty of a sleek roofline that breaks the mold
Perhaps the most urgent task was to retain the concept of the Kue. After much searching, we found a model and pored over various data to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. We were able to secure the results thanks to the seat access conditions that pushed existing boundaries. The headroom for the back seats was secured by enabling diverse seating positions. The remaining issue was executing the design profile.
There were growing pains in attempting a path never been before ventured. The team was split between those who had high and low expectations of our attempt to overcome previous development boundaries. However, a bold decision was made to realize the forward-looking design profile. In this manner, each of the key elements of the all-new Sportage package was solved one by one. Looking back on the process now, if we had hesitated and insisted on staying with the familiar, we would not have been able to see the birth of the Sportage with its sleek and attractive roofline.