How Kia Quietly Designs Some of the Best-Looking Cars on the Road


Kia, the South Korean automotive manufacturer, has been making significant strides in vehicle design, quietly edging into the spotlight as one of the progenitors of some of the best-looking cars on the road today. This transformation did not happen overnight – it is the result of a strategic overhaul that Kia has been investing in for over a decade.

The secret behind Kia’s design revolution can be traced back to 2006, when the company made a pivotal decision to hire Peter Schreyer, a designer renowned for his work with Audi and Volkswagen. Schreyer brought with him a philosophy that design should be at the core of brand identity, leading to the creation of the now-famous “tiger-nose” grille that has become synonymous with Kia’s aesthetic identity.

Schreyer’s influence extended beyond front grilles; it ushered in a new era of emphatic and cohesive designs that are both bold and stylish. His approach was to imbue Kia cars with a distinct personality, one that stands out in an overcrowded market. Schreyer’s tenure at Kia turned design into a narrative, telling a story about sophistication, reliability, and accessibility.

The evolving design language under Schreyer’s leadership emphasized simplicity and clarity. The lines became more dynamic and tensions were created on surfaces to give cars like the Stinger GT and Telluride SUV an impression of constant motion, even when standing still. The amalgamation of straight edges and smooth contours concocted vehicles that were not just aesthetically pleasing but also aerodynamic.

Moreover, Kia did not limit its focus on exterior design alone. The interiors of their vehicles underwent transformations aimed at creating driver-centric spaces infused with technology and high-quality materials while ensuring comfort and practicality. Features such as ambient lighting, intuitive touchscreens, and ergonomic seating are no longer reserved for luxury brands; they have become staples in many Kia models.

Kia’s strategy also involved diversity in their lineup. From compacts like the Rio to larger family-oriented models such as the Sorento or Telluride to eco-friendly alternatives like the Niro EV—the DNA of thoughtful design is evident across all categories.

Another contributing factor to Kia’s success has been strategic partnerships and collaborations with other automakers. These alliances expanded their technological capabilities in areas such as electric powertrains and autonomous driving systems which translated into futuristic designs complemented by innovative tech components.

Despite facing initial skepticism from critics and consumers alike accustomed to associating Kia with budget-friendly but plain designs, this persistence in innovation has paid off. Recognition in form of awards have been pouring in, further validating their efforts; for instance, the Telluride won the prestigious North American Utility Vehicle of the Year award in 2020.

In conclusion, Kia’s journey into crafting some of the best-looking cars on today’s roads is characterized by intentional investments in top-tier design talent, commitment to creating emotive stories through its vehicles’ designs, diversification of model offerings coupled with technological advancements, and an unwavering belief that great design is instrumental to transforming brand perception. Together these elements have sculpted an identity for Kia that is resonant with style-conscious consumers who no longer view aesthetic appeal as a mere luxury but rather as an essential aspect of their driving experience.


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