- Kia Carens, 2013
The all-new Kia Carens is a completely fresh model from the ground up, and its sleek and sculpted design marks a dramatic shift away from the more utilitarian look of its predecessor.
It builds on the functionality and versatility of the original Kia Carens, with a spacious five or five-plus-two seating layout, a generously proportioned luggage bay and numerous stowage spaces, but wraps this family-friendly adaptability in more purposeful sheet metal.
"I wanted to give the new Carens a sleeker look and feel, to create a design that envelops its functionality and versatility in something altogether more athletic and dynamic," says Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer.
"This new-found visual dynamism is important - this car needs to look appealing and attractive - but during its design and development stages, we never lost sight of the fact that its packaging flexibility and adaptability are why people buy these cars," explains Schreyer.
Both Schreyer and Gregory Guillaume, Kia's Chief Designer Europe, are candid when discussing the design of the Kia Carens. "A vehicle like the Carens is probably one of the hardest of all to get right because we are very tightly constrained by the car's functionality," says Guillaume. "That packaging versatility cannot in any way be compromised by the design of the car because to do so would eradicate the car's raison d'être."
Schreyer and Guillaume's team created subtle styling cues to enhance the Kia Carens' elegant and balanced proportions and deliver an air of sophistication and refinement.
As an example Schreyer singles out the understated chrome strip that runs from the base of the windscreen, along the lower level of windows and curls up to meet the C-pillar. "This not only adds a premium feel to the clean-cut exterior, but also creates a visual link with the new Sportage, which features the same design motif," he explains.
One of Schreyer's design goals was improved visibility - a key element for safe driving, particularly in congested urban areas. "The base of the windscreen is very low and this works with the front quarter windows and the low and wide sweeping dashboard design to deliver excellent visibility," explains Schreyer. The panoramic glass roof that floods the cabin with light further enhances this sense of spaciousness.
Similarly, the Kia Carens design team worked hard on ensuring the front and rear overhangs were kept as short as possible to boost manoeuvrability when parking and negotiating city traffic.
Neat touches abound - the integrated roof rails, the sleek rear spoiler, the three-way split second-row seats that feature individual fore and aft adjustment, and Kia's tactile new steering wheel.
"With its nigh-perfect balance of proportion, style and functionality, the distinctive new Carens marks yet another successful and stylish step for Kia's global design team," says Schreyer proudly. "There's a design honesty here - the Kia Carens is neither over-dressed nor does it feature contrived design elements. It's a car cleanly and elegantly defined by its functionality."