Design & Technology / Product
Breaking Kia’s Design Code: The Rio Design Story (Exterior) October 18th, 2011
How do you define a design? Is it a shape? A color? Or a form? Team Kia believes design is more than just visible elements. It is a subtle language which is spoken through a car, which you perceive not only with your eyes, but also with your other senses. It is a combination of everything you feel, touch, see and hear. The language of design should also contain a hint of the company’s philosophy and beliefs, but more importantly, it’s the passion that stands out from competitors. All of this was required when numerous engineers, project managers and designers from centers in Europe, North America and Korea put their heads together to create the all-new Kia Rio, a car that continues to fascinate its producers as it makes bold ventures into the automobile world.
Defining New Luxury
Can compact cars be luxurious? It was a simple question, but a daunting task for Kia designers who wanted to change the perception that compact cars meant only “small” and “practical.” New challenges required a new way of thinking. The developers involved with Rio were members who participated in the development of medium to large sized sedans or luxury models to ensure that they wouldn’t be entrapped by their concept of what a ‘compact car’ should be like.
The result was a new way of looking at what compact cars should offer, such as wide space to provide comfort to drivers and passengers. There are now features and functions that were unavailable to drivers before in sub-compact car segment, such as LED headlight lamps, a cooling internal compartment box, a seven-inch navigation system, a rear-view camera and much more. All of these aspects make the Rio a new luxurious, affordable vehicle that transcends its deceptively small size.
Simply a Beauty, Inside and Out
Before setting out to design the Rio, designers did their research. Months of market research and passenger preference tests were done in Europe and North America, targeted toward young drivers in their 20s and 30s. The results showed that this segment of drivers is attracted to economy, fuel efficiency, dynamic style and sporty design.
So it is no surprise that designers came up with two important words that were essential in attaining their goals: “modern” and “youthful.” Basic straight lines were used to emphasize a clean and modern look. Curves and volumes were used to give a youthful and dynamic look to the car. At the front, the intake grille and fog lamp graphics were expanded to establish a more confident and sporty image of the car while maintaining the design identity of Kia’s tiger nose grille. The eyes of the car, or the head lamps, are literally eye-catching. Both projection low beam and LED daytime running lamps are incorporated into the head lamps, capturing high-tech images and a forward-looking stance.
The Rio’s side profile is also the result of considerable deliberation among designers. Designers really wanted Rio to exude sportiness, so they added a dynamic window graphic with a cab-forward style and a black glass slant that continues from the front hood of the car.
We will come back next week with the All-new Rio design story-Interior. Stay tuned!