Design & Technology / Product

Peter Schreyer sketches the design elements that define a luxury sedan – Kia K9 April 6th, 2012

Kia K9 Design – Elegant Simplicity and Balanced Proportions

Have you ever liked a particular luxury car design, but found it difficult to explain why? What makes a premium luxury sedan look and feel like a premium luxury sedan? According to Kia’s Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, it’s about elegant simplicity and balanced proportions. At a media event held last week in Seoul, Korea, Peter explained the design philosophy behind the upcoming Kia K9 (domestic Korean model name for the new Kia luxury sedan). We reposted an awesome video sketch and explanation from the event on our official YouTube channel and wanted to repost it here and breakdown some of the key points and takeaways for our Kia-Buzz readers.

In the above video, Peter Schreyer sketches the soon to be released Kia K9 luxury sedan, and describes how designing for a rear-wheel drive platform opens an opportunity for proportions and ratios that define luxury. But don’t take our word for it, watch the video, and feel free to read our breakdown below and share your thoughts.

Decoding the K9’s Luxury Sedan Design

Here are some design highlights and takeaways we pulled from Peter’s K9 explanation.

Generous wheelbase – Starting with a long wheelbase helps setup the right proportions needed for defining luxury design. The large wheels also create a strong stance and feeling of power, and Peter mentions that designers are always happy when they get to use big wheels.

Strength, Confidence and Power – Rear wheel engines sit further back from the front tires, which permits a greater length from the front wheel’s center to the first door cut, known as the ‘prestige distance’ in Germany. This in turn, pushes the A-pillar further back and creates a longer hood, which drops down to a shorter front upright overhang. These lengths help define the right proportions to instill a feeling of power and dignity. Peter describes the upright overhang and front section as having the strength, confidence and power of a boxer’s attack stance. It’s an analogy he often shares with fellow designers when they are working on projects.

Sheet Metal to Glass Ratio – The greenhouse, or glassed-in upper section of the car’s body, is tensioned to create the ideal sheet metal to glass ratio. This smaller glass area helps produce sense of privacy and safety while giving the car a sporty expression.

All the elements and proportions mentioned above in addition with a long sweeping shoulder and long rear overhang all work together to give the K9 a premium and luxury feeling, which may remind others of modern European rear wheel drive packages.

K9 Design Focus Summary

  • Balanced Proportions
  • Sheet Metal to Glass Ratio
  • Elegant Simplicity – Window Graphics and Surfaces
  • Strong Stance
  • Length of Overhangs
  • Position and Size of the Greenhouse.

“This combination of power and styling for the K9 is a breakthrough for Kia, and it’s a breakthrough into new customer segments. The K9 signals our ability to be successful in competition with the European luxury brands. And for Kia, our customers, and for me – this car is like a dream” – Peter Schreyer

What are your thoughts?

What do you think about the K9 and its design? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and if you think others might enjoy this post, please feel free to like and share it.

Additional Resources

NOTE: The K9 is the name that will be used for the domestic Korean market only, while the name for export markets has yet to be revealed. The official launch date as well as availability for other overseas market is yet to be determined.

  • Crizzle

    I want one!!!!! I hope it’s coming to South Africa!

  • CodeWarrior Carling

    I am trying to get carmakers to think about how in car technology can help prevent deaths of infants and pets locked inside hot cars. Many of these cases are caused by infants managing to get into locked cars without being old enough to figure out hot to get out.

    When I was a child, I managed to lock myself in an old abandoned refrigerator and was very lucky to get out without suffocating. It’s now illegal to make refrigerators that lock.

    I hope you can make thinking about how cars can help people prevent these deaths part of your corporate culture. The problem is only going to get worse.

    Thanks for listening.

    PS – I love my Forte SX Koupe!