Design & Technology / Product

Cadenza Design Story December 3rd, 2009

By Kim Chi-young, Researcher, Kia Exterior Design Team 2
By Lee Seung-young, senior researcher, Kia Interior Design Team 2


All about perfect combination of light and lines

Once work began on the landmark project of creating Kia Motors’ first large luxury sedan, our design studios in Korea, the US and Europe collaborated and competed with each other to submit ideas. To give concrete form to a luxury sedan that would provide continuous expression of Kia’s young & dynamic brand image and design statement on simplicity, designers made diverse modeling attempts and conducted extensive research into the finer details. The process of selection and rendering was lasted over and over again until a final model was approved.


The process also included asking people around the globe about desired features in a luxury sedan. Analysis of those answers and research into numerous topics like lifestyles were conducted to design a car that would meet customer desires.
Based on the research on customer preferences and brand image, the main concept for the Cadenza was established as “A dynamic and luxury sedan with refined sophistication.”


The length and height of the car body were reduced to achieve a dynamic and sporty feel. The length and height of the car body were reduced to achieve a dynamic and sporty feel. The wheelbase – among the longest in its class – provides a solid stance and a greater feeling of interior space. A deeper front windshield angle and raised beltline creates an impression of nimble speed.


The key features of the Cadenza exterior are the perfect combination of bold and subtle lines that create refined surfaces and upscale details. Kia’s distinctive front grille and muscular bumper complete the strong front mask that sets it apart from cars in the same segment. The clean-cut rear exudes pure elegance with a high-tech combination lamp, dynamic trunk lid, wide chrome molding and sporty dual mufflers integrated into the bumper.

The profile best conveys Cadenza’s singular styling. The unique C-pillar graphic, in particular the upswept end of the beltline and the character line which imparts both boldness and subtlety, harmonize to deliver a sense of dynamic speed. The voluminous wheel arches project a mysterious appeal with the reflection of lights.

The individualistic and unique graphic LED indirect-lighting position lamps and rear combination lamps convey Cadenza’s singular identity at night and highlight Kia’s progressive values.

Cadenza Interior-1

Cadenza’s interior is a progressive and luxurious space with a harmony of refined planes and lines, and high-tech lighting. With the main interior concept set as “a space formed through light and lines via communication with the driver,” we attempted to maximize the feeling of spaciousness and openness with dynamic styling. By focusing analysis and research into the IP(Installment Panel or Crash Pad) section, we were able to complete an interior that combines both beauty and function.

Cadenza Interior-2

The bold styling of the center fascia grabs occupants’ attention as soon as they enter the car. After dissecting 3D images of modern architecture and high-tech products from multiple angles, in addition to an extensive refining process, we created a “floating fascia.”

Cadenza Interior-3

Lighting was a major focal point of the cabin development process. A key task was figuring out how to express the diverse light elements portrayed in the initial sketches. Ultimately, we settled on the concept of ‘harmony of chrome and light’ to develop style elements that highlight chrome finishes during the daytime and lighting during at night.

Cadenza Interior-4

Initially, the only light options available to us were bulbs and LED lighting. Accordingly, we conducted continuous studies into futuristic and stylish lighting systems by closely collaborating with suppliers of related technologies.

The light-permeating film (waveguide sheet) used in the large mood lamp and semi-transparent plastic panel (light guide panel) represent the culmination of diverse pattern applications and result in an upscale cabin atmosphere while avoiding a bulky headliner shape. Dozens of modelings were produced for the garnish alone to develop the optimal form.

Cadenza was born through such tireless efforts of designers. It is a product of design-centered management that is aimed at reinventing Kia’s brand image. As we devoted more time and effort to the development of Cadenza compared to other models. I feel confident that it will hail in a new era of Kia luxury sedans. And lastly, I hope that it will be embraced by consumers for raising their quality of life with an enhanced driving experience.


  • jtz

    I hope you guys are prepared because the Cadenza’s toughest rivals is the Taurus and LaCross. Those are the cars to really worry about. I think the better designs is the Cadenza and I hate to admit it but the LaCross is a nice design too. However unlike Kia, it seems that GM is stuck on the Cruze’s headlights or a certain design. Sure the Cruze has a nice design and all but it’s based from the LaCross. And the LaCross has the Cruze’s headlights. Kia is more on design becasue even though Kia cars have signature grilles, none of their headlights look alike. That to me is more creative.

  • jtz

    Also, Mitsubishi’s Lancer’s face is going to the RVR and the facelifte Outlander. That’s easy to do. There is no real style just click and paste.

  • jtz

    So Kia’s face is more creative than what Mitsubishi is doing to their face. It is also more orginal. Mitsubishi’s face is found on the VW Iroc concept, Toyota Tundra or even Audi. I never seen a sideways hour glass for a grille before though.

  • Roger

    Very nice car, terrible name though.

  • Pamela (Korea)

    The family-look grille was Kia’s first step in creating a common design DNA throughout the entire family line-up which will add to the premium feel of the brand and help boost brand recognition. (Kia will be the first Asian maker to apply such a consistent design language throughout its line-up much like European brands.)

    You mentioned “a sideways hour glass” to describe the grille. I’ve never heard it referred to as that, personally, but I definately see it now that you pointed it out!

    The grille is actually termed by Peter Shcreyer as the “Tiger’s Nose” grille as it represents the roar of a tiger and adds a strong, dynamic feel to the most recognizable part of a car – the front.

  • Darren

    The cadenza k7 it’s replace the magentis ? and the k9 replace the Amanti / optima ?? . Kia it’s better to focus on small cars like ford fiesta in B segment and the A segment to replace the old look picanto WITH LOW CO2 EMI ENGINES.

  • darren

    For kia k9 comments , see today , the title is {this the much anticipated Kia K9 luxury sedan}

  • Pingback: История дизайна Kia Cadenza (k7) – часть 2 | Клуб любителей Kia Cadenza()

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  • Harry Escobar

    Felicito a KIA por este modelo. No se que tanta participación tenga el Mr. Peter Shreyer; pero realmente es asombroso como se están cerrando las brechas en la majestuosidad de estilo entre KIA K7 y las marcas de prestigio histórico Alemán.