Introducing a new kind of dynamic aesthetics

The new Kia Sportage marks a dramatic shift in design direction for Kia's compact SUV. Longer, lower and wider than the previous generation model, the new Kia Sportage is immediately identifiable by its 'tiger' face - incorporating Peter Schreyer's striking signature grille design that links all new Kia models.

"The new Sportage is fresh and bold and could not be mistaken for anything other than a Kia," said Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer. "It embodies Kia's new-found visual dynamism by successfully taking the key features of an off-road vehicle - the raised ground clearance, the commanding driving position and heightened sense of security - and enveloping them in a sleek and urban-friendly design with global appeal. With its athletic and muscular design the Kia Sportage fits its name perfectly."

Sitting below the central bonnet-mounted badge, the 'tiger face' sweeps out to effectively frame the grille before broadening out and encompassing the car's large and piercing headlamps to create a distinctive and powerful face. The strength of this look is reinforced by the clamshell bonnet and its contours that run into raised shoulders as they flow down to meet the headlamps.

"The clamshell bonnet gives a sense of strength and solidity to the front end," said Schreyer. "Together with the grille, these shoulders create a strong three-dimensional feel to the face of the new Kia Sportage, and they also help the driver accurately place the car on the road."

The new Kia Sportage's athleticism is reinforced by its rakish windscreen angle, which sweeps seamlessly into the low roofline. And the top of the screen itself reflects the grille profile. "The profile line of the top of the windscreen mirrors that of the grille," explains Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer, Kia Europe.

"We first featured this element on the Kee concept car, at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. This is followed through to the rear, which has the same distinctive outline at the base of the rear windscreen. These two features instantly heighten the Kia Sportage's on-the-road visibility - as do its sculpted flanks featuring a striking concave motif in the door panels and the flared wheel-arches."

The key design element of new Sportage's purposeful stance is the relationship between its high shoulders and narrow glasshouse, explained Schreyer. "We've created a vehicle with a sportscar-like ratio between sheet metal and glass. The side-windows are very narrow that gives an almost rally-car feeling. Follow the shoulder and roof lines and they meet at the striking reverse-angled C-pillar.

"The size, the shape and the proportion of the C-pillar on any car is absolutely crucial to its appearance, and as you can see on our new Kia Sportage, it determines the entire look and feel of the car," he added.

Using a tape-measure against the new Kia Sportage confirms it is slightly lower than the previous generation, but the design makes it look significantly lower, and both sleeker and more assertive.

Mirroring the large headlamps up front, the rear of the new Kia Sportage features prominent taillights that flow across the tailgate and into the car's broad rear shoulders. Raising the rear spoiler-topped hatch reveals a large, deep and regular-shaped cargo bay.

Many of the new Kia Sportage's external design features - the rakish windscreen angle, the radically angled C-pillar and the signature sculpting of the car's flanks, were first hinted at in the Kue concept car, star of the 2007 Detroit Motor Show.

"It's crucial that we draw real design inspiration from our concept and showcars, like the Kue, and inject that motivation into our production cars. The new Kia Sportage is clear proof of that," commented Schreyer.

A raft of details - the ribbed roof, the chunky door handles, the roof-rails, the raised ride height and the large wing mirrors - serve to further reinforce the Kia's go-anywhere credentials. The new Sportage's spacious cabin looks as dynamic and sporting as its exterior. It's dominated by the sweeping dashboard, which broadens from the edges and then narrows dramatically in the middle to create an eye-catching centre console. This emphasises the width of the car, making those on board feel protected, safe and secure.

Guillaume explained: "The horizontal layers break up the dashboard, so you are not facing a vast cliff of plastic, while the high centre tunnel bisects the front cabin. It's anything but the typical T-shaped dashboard/console layout you will find in most vehicles."

Those high shoulders and the narrow glasshouse hint at the new Kia Sportage's dynamic driving position, enhanced by the chunky small-diameter three-spoke steering wheel and deep-set cowled instruments.

"The exterior design is very sporty for a car of this type, and although you sit high in the cabin there's still something very sporting about it because the windscreen has a very fast angle and the shoulder line is very high," said Guillaume. "This gives you a cocooned and safe feeling, and yet from a practical point of view there is still plenty of rear headroom."

In the generously proportioned rear cabin, the boldly angled C-pillar cuts back on itself well behind the rear passengers, to enhance the car's low-slung profile without encroaching on their view out.

Peter Schreyer intends to transform the public perception of Kia all around the world. "I want to give Kia global appeal - I want that appeal to be about design above all else. The new Kia Sportage is a major step towards achieving that goal.

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