What does Kia’s Historic Rise Have to Do With a Jungle Cat?

12 Nov

2014 Kia Optima

Kia’s rise to prominence is one of the more dramatic stories in recent automotive history. If that sounds like an overstatement, consider this: Kia has improved by 56% in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study in the last 10 years. A brand that used to fall below the industry average in quality now ranks second only to Porsche in that department. Kia has come farther in the last decade than any other automaker, and much of that success can be attributed to Kia Motors President and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer.

When Kia snatched Schreyer, designer of iconic vehicles like the Audi A3 and the VW New Beetle during his years with Volkswagen AG, it was clear that the Korean carmaker was interested in tapping into the European school of automotive design. Schreyer has done a great deal to make Kias recognizable, but his signature contribution may well be Kia’s distinctive front-bumper adornment, the tiger nose grille.

KiaOptimaIn a description of inspiration that makes it clear we may never think like an elite car designer, Schreyer described to Bloomberg how he came to view the snout of a jungle predator as a unifying theme across the Kia lineup. “I was just working on the car and just thinking about different possibilities,” Schreyer told journalist Rose Kim, “and suddenly I found it. Think about a tiger’s face. You know, it’s very three-dimensional- with the mouth and the nose coming out with the nostrils and the whiskers and the eyes being very alert.”

All-new 2016 Kia Sorento

Fortunately, Kias haven’t yet started coming with whiskers, but the grille that takes its inspiration from a big cat’s snout is one way that Kias are becoming as recognizable as they are reliable. Different Kia vehicles have slightly different grilles, but thanks to Schreyer’s feline-themed revelation, every Kia comes standard with a fierce, in-your-face front-end. We at Butler Kia have loved watching the evolution of these vehicles, and we are excited to see where Schreyer and company take them next!