‘Chess-piece’ philosophy will bring Hyundai, Kia and Genesis cars greater individuality, as well as setting them apart from segment rivals

Future Hyundai, Genesis and Kia designs will become more differentiated from one another, and their models within each segment will become more individual.

That’s the strategy being pushed by the design chief of all three brands, Luc Donckerwolke, who said that “our core task is to differentiate the design philosophy of the three brands, not least because we have a big [around 70%] share in Korea. We need to differentiate each model, otherwise the landscape is too homogeneous”.

Donckerwolke told Autocar that he believes Kias and Hyundais must become more distinctive not only in the Korean roadscape that they dominate but also around the world, “by segment and by region. We will not have a global design language because otherwise it’s too rigid. [The alternative is] more work, but it’s more flexible.”

This does not mean that the brands’ designs will diverge completely across continents. “There will be some unifying themes, with varying treatments,” said Donckerwolke, who likened the approach not to “Russian dolls but to chess pieces, with a look that reveals its own charismatic character. For example, Kia used to be about the tiger nose grille, separate headlights and the lower intake. Now it’s going to be more of a mask that will deliver sportiness and a presence.”

Kia design head Byungchul Juh said that Kia will be “young, challenging and cool – cooler than before. There will be a distinct version of tiger face for each segment, and we’ll keep the tiger nose grille. In principle it’s the same, but there’s a different interpretation for each segment, and more of a 3D feeling. We’re moving from a nose to a face.”

He added: “The next Optima is the first step. It’s not extreme but progressive, with a strong brand identity. There will be even greater separation between Kia and Hyundai. Kia is more innovative, young, challenging, iconic and cool. There will be unexpected details, and influences from general product design, cars, architecture and fine art.”

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Because Kias have had a more distinctive look for longer than Hyundais, Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee, former Bentley colleague and now head of Hyundai design, determined that the Sonata represented the heart of the range and would be the design flag-bearer. The saloon is a model built over 35 years and eight generations but no longer sold in the UK.

Hyundai’s new look be “sexy, seductive and sensuous, sporty, eager and stylish”, said Donckerwolke. “Hyundai is good on value for money, but we need to add emotion.” He likened the new philosophy to that of fashion house Prêt à Porter, which ‘democratises haute couture’.

Kia, meanwhile, is about “streetwear – bold, fresh and young”, Donckerwolke said. “The next Sportage is even bolder than the new Tucson,” he added. A flash reveal of this model in sketch form promises something excitingly fresh.

“Genesis is haute couture,” Donckerwolke said, promising “a great new show car”. Expect to see more of Genesis, which has been mooted for a Europe and UK launch for some time and is expected to arrive by next year. “We had Europe in mind from the beginning,” said Donckerwolke. “We need a dealer network, and for that you need a palette of cars, not just two models.”

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Comments
8

24 May 2019

 I like they red car, but the other car looks like a sad Mondeo......

Peter Cavellini.

24 May 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 I like they red car, but the other car looks like a sad Mondeo......

Sad Mondeo :D nail on the head there, very good :)

24 May 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 I like they red car, but the other car looks like a sad Mondeo......

Perfect, I was trying to figure out how to describe it.

 

24 May 2019

Both Hyundai and Kia have the image of cheap and cheerful brands with little differentiation between them. It's not helped by a long standing pile them high, sell them cheap approach to marketing, though this has at least made the Korean models a popular sight on UK roads.

Why not keep things simple by making Hyundai the comfort oriented, value brand and Kia the more dynamic, sporty premium offering. Or maybe it should be the other way round given the recent appearance of Hyundai's N models?  I can't see much point in tweaking the appearance of various models until the role of each brand is decided.      

24 May 2019
LP in Brighton wrote:

Both Hyundai and Kia have the image of cheap and cheerful brands with little differentiation between them. It's not helped by a long standing pile them high, sell them cheap approach to marketing, though this has at least made the Korean models a popular sight on UK roads.

Why not keep things simple by making Hyundai the comfort oriented, value brand and Kia the more dynamic, sporty premium offering. Or maybe it should be the other way round given the recent appearance of Hyundai's N models?  I can't see much point in tweaking the appearance of various models until the role of each brand is decided.      

Isn't that what was said years ago that Kia was sporty to Hyundai's family oriented? It has never transpired as such with both brands being, to my eyes, identical in percieved image. VW have a similar issue with VW supposedly going premium which clashes with Audi, and Skoda and SEAT both being cheaper offerings of the same. SEAT never did become the sporty Alfa competitor it was implied it would be.

Maybe  Kia/Hyundai can get it right.

24 May 2019
LP in Brighton wrote:

Both Hyundai and Kia have the image of cheap and cheerful brands with little differentiation between them. It's not helped by a long standing pile them high, sell them cheap approach to marketing, though this has at least made the Korean models a popular sight on UK roads.

Why not keep things simple by making Hyundai the comfort oriented, value brand and Kia the more dynamic, sporty premium offering. Or maybe it should be the other way round given the recent appearance of Hyundai's N models?  I can't see much point in tweaking the appearance of various models until the role of each brand is decided.      

That's interesting.

Hyundai / Kia have put a massive effort into changing perceptions of their cars. Here in Australia they are now perceived as good cars. Five years ago I would never have considered buying one. Now, people I know drive them, like them... Plus they are releasing hot hatches and twin turbo RWD saloons. I'm a convert.

24 May 2019

Looks like huge, ugly grills are all the rage now (maybe because they look more 'aggressive', which presumably appeals to people who like driving aggressively), along with impractical rear door 'ticks' that steal visibility from rear seat passengers and cause car sickness in children too small to see out the partially blocked windows.

If we all convert to electric cars, such a focus on huge front grills seems even more redundant.

I saw a picture of a MK5 Ford Cortina the other day and thought "that was a good looking car" but when it was launched I didn't think it stood out as a good looking car at all. Maybe we've got used to new cars being so ugly now that older cars are starting to look more attractive (albeit with tiny wheels by modern standards).

 

 

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

25 May 2019

I wonder if they are just a little embarrassed or nauseated when they read back the nonsensical and dishonest drivel they write?

They’re only Kias and Hyundais, for goodness sake.

 

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