By Kurt Kahl
Kia America Design Center
My name is Kurt Kahl and I am a Senior Designer at the Kia America Design Center in Irvine, California. I was the Lead Exterior Designer of the Forte (known as ‘All-new Cerato’ in some markets) project.
Back in early 2005 we were handed a brief by Chief Designer Tom Kearns about a new C-segment sedan. I was enthusiastic about this project because the package had an ideal size and proportion. Compact sedans can deliver a good sense of driver involvement while not compromising on everyday practicality.
The image of a bulldog seemed appropriate for a small sedan with an aggressive stance so this became our ideation starting point. A bulldog’s front legs are dominant and more flared out than the rear and this accurately communicated the car’s front wheel drive layout. Having a background in architecture, I am inspired by modern buildings with their geometric shapes and shear surfacing. I wanted this design to be mathematically organized yet have enough natural feeling to keep from being too cold or unfamiliar. During the initial process, a sketch that had a clear checkmark shoulder theme was selected. This shape started at the base of the a-pillar and continued to the rear of the car while at the front, a separate front fender element developed out of the body side.
The first three-dimensional representation of the sketch would be a 1/4 scale clay model. After working with our excellent modeling team for only a few weeks, the Forte (All-new Cerato) had taken shape and was true to the initial sketch. The model had a solid feeling that appeared to be carved and honed rather than organically sculpted.
The profile was stretched rearward giving the car a short deck and a coupe-like image.
Stance was critical in achieving an athletic and agile appearance. The tension in the body side, trapezoidal forms in the front and rear graphics, and focus on fender forms allowed the model to have a planted look.
The decision was made shortly after design work had completed on the Forte (All-new Cerato) sedan to make a coupe variant. This was great opportunity to go a step further with the same theme but exaggerating the look with the flexibility of a sleeker 2-door package.
With the Forte (All-new Cerato) Koup, the first thing that we wanted to address was the overall height of the car. We compromised a small amount on head room to achieve a lower overall height but not to the point of encroaching on passenger space.
Next, the wheel flares were exaggerated and rocker areas simplified to visually plant and lower the appearance of the car. A sports coupe should have a sense of aggressiveness and this was further enhanced by enlarging the openings in the front fascia. The outer fog lamp apertures grew to the point that the body appears to stretch out to meet them. In the rear, we wanted the tail lamps to have a more sinister look so they were squeezed down to thin horizontal bars. The lower fascia took on a race inspired look with its vertical finned diffuser and twin exhaust outlets.
We feel very proud of the Forte (All-new Cerato) and it is only possible because of the dedication and hard work from Kia’s worldwide design and engineering teams. Go Forte (All-New Cerato) brothers!