Kia’s urban SUV Seltos has returned with a bolder and higher-tech design with a new name, ‘The New Seltos.’ The appearance of The New Seltos was completed by reflecting the properties of Kia’s new design philosophy, ‘Opposites United (creative fusion of opposing concepts)’ while maintaining the understated youthful luxury of the current Seltos. The exterior design has a bold and futuristic look, inspired by ‘Innovative Attempts for the Future’ among the five attributes of Opposites United. In contrast, the interior design reflects ‘Technology for Human Life’ to become even more sophisticated, making a stylish and high-tech atmosphere.
However, it was not easy to reflect the new design philosophy in the design of the Seltos, which already boasted excellent perfection. Moreover, the New Seltos had many design changes that went beyond the level of partial changes, so the role of designers was more important than ever. If so, what process did designers go through to improve the design perfection of The New Seltos? Researchers Chang-Woo Shim and Seung-Hyeon Jeon, who were in charge of the exterior design of The New Seltos, and Sang-Hun Kim, responsible for the interior design, gave detailed stories.
Q. It may not have been easy to change the design of The New Seltos because of the high design perfection of the current Seltos. What did you focus on?
As in the question, the current Seltos is a car with a very high degree of design perfection, so there were a lot of concerns. The focus of The New Seltos was to inherit the powerful and dynamic style of the current Seltos and to reflect ‘innovative attempts for the future’ among the five attributes of Opposites United, Kia’s new design philosophy. For this, bold and futuristic elements were naturally instilled into the exterior design of The New Seltos, along with our new design element, ‘Star-map Signature Lighting.’
Q. As the size of the market grows as well as the popularity of SUVs, there are more competing models in the domestic small SUV market. What kind of competitiveness and differentiation does The New Seltos’ new exterior design have in this fierce market?
The current Seltos has been Kia’s top seller since its launch as a small SUV, and has been dominating the market until now. This is thought to be due to the larger body compared to the current small SUV, the dignified and strong exterior, the spacious interior space, and the diverse safety and convenience specifications that transcend the segment. In fact, the Seltos has a charm that encompasses not only the compact SUV market, but beyond.
In The New Seltos, to continue the strength and influence of the current Seltos, it further maximized the advantages of the exterior design that surpasses that of a small SUV. In the front part, the grandeur and wide appearance were further emphasized based on the attribute of ‘innovative attempt for the future.’ The rear part also tried to achieve the optimal balance of design by using the graphics that stretched left and right to make it look wider than the competitive model in the same class. The New Seltos is proud to continue to lead the fiercely competitive compact SUV market as a confident and unique urban SUV.
Q. The New Seltos seems to have become more calm and luxurious. What was actually intended?
As mentioned earlier, The New Seltos has the purpose of ‘innovative attempts for the future.’ At the same time, rather than making major design changes, we tried to refine and improve the details to add a fresh vibe.
For example, The New Seltos created a bold and dignified front image by using a larger and more magnificent mesh radiator grill while maintaining the strong and stable layout of the current Seltos. At the same time, we wanted to create a more modern and concise image by integrating the chrome garnish that crosses the front radiator grille and rear lamp into the black color garnish and lamp. In particular, by using the signature Starmap lighting that emphasizes horizontal and vertical robustness on the entire front and rear parts, the body looks wider and larger, completing the strong and unique design. Through this series of processes, The New Seltos was reborn as an urban SUV with enhanced high-end sensibility and urban sophistication.
Q. As you can see, the new grille and lighting design play a very large part in the design of The New Seltos. Please explain in more detail about these two parts.
The New Seltos creates a new and unique image with the signature Starmap lighting penetrating the center of the grille. This effectively reflects Kia’s design philosophy of ‘Opposites United.’ In other words, it is a design that fuses different parts in form and function. As a result, the huge grill creates a grand and wide image, and the dramatic lighting elements added to it maximize the character of The New Seltos.
The grill, which occupies the largest area in the front part, is one of the key elements of The New Seltos. We went to great lengths to bring design and engineering together; This is because as the powertrain has been upgraded, the functions of the grill, such as improved cooling performance, have become more important. This was also the most challenging part of the mass production process of The New Seltos. As a result, the Star Map signature lighting across the grill and the wide-shaped LED projection lamp realize the unique image of The New Seltos. In addition, the mesh grill design with the Star Map signature lighting shape created a progressive and unique detail image, and the vertical fog lamp design related to the Star Map signature lighting theme gave a more robust and sensual image.
Q. When making partial changes, automakers often do not change the design of the rear part significantly. However, The New Seltos also made a big change in the design of the rear part. Please explain why.
By designing the rear part, the image of the current Seltos was completely changed to accommodate the needs of global customers and to strengthen the character of The New Seltos. Going beyond the toughness of the current Seltos, it was intended to look like a completely new design by adding a solid image and newly interpreted sportiness.
Q. Please explain how the design of the rear part of The New Seltos has changed in detail. And what was the purpose of this?
The entire rear part of The New Seltos - rear lamps, rear body and tailgate, rear bumper, etc. - has been newly designed. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is a complete full-change level design change, emphasizing a solid and future-oriented image from the beginning of the initial rear design sketch.
Specifically, the design development started from the theme of creating a solid and robust body structure with vertical pillars at the rear and placing wide Star Map signature lighting on it. Here, we emphasized a strong image with a sense of unity with the front part, and pursued a wide and future-oriented design through Star Map signature lighting. A unique image was realized with the bumper’s backup lamp and reflector with the same concept, and a glossy black color was applied to the new design bumper to give it a sense of luxury.
Q. I would like to know how the philosophy of ‘technology for human life’ was reflected in the interior design of The New Seltos, and where this is clearly evident.
‘Technology for human life’ is well reflected in the development of a high-tech driver’s seat while inheriting the unique formative heritage of the Seltos. There are many differences in specifications depending on the trim, but basically, The New Seltos has many advanced specifications found in luxury vehicles. Above all, the biggest feature is that these convenience specifications and control systems are not simply arranged, but harmoniously produced in consideration of users in a themed structure.
The best examples of this feature include grouping the necessary buttons with different colors and layouts according to the usability and purpose, or trimming the center garnish with a harmonious shape to house the panoramic display stably. As such, the automaker’s philosophy, ‘technology for human life,’ is the answer to the question ‘how can we connect good technology with the users in the nicest and the most beautiful way possible?’
Q. Three years have passed since the release of the Seltos, and the number of competitors with a striking interior design has increased. What makes The New Seltos’ new interior design different from competing models?
It is impossible to predict the direction of competitors, but in a fierce market, each automaker is struggling for better products with their own competitiveness. That’s why I don’t think it’s helpful to imitate what others are doing or to try too hard to please everyone. Just as not everyone can like you, there can’t be a design that pleases everyone. Instead, I think it’s important to stick to the basics and work as closely as possible to the direction you initially set. In this sense, the strength and uniqueness of The New Seltos is that it stuck to the original concept of an SUV that combines boldness and high-tech in line with Kia’s interior design direction.
Q. It is rare to change from a partial change to the center console including the electronic shift dial. What was the reason for making such a change?
There are many differences between The New Seltos and other Kia models. However, within the framework of Kia’s interior design, they all share the same design direction and design philosophy of Offer United. In the sense that the design direction and identity can be experienced in The New Seltos through Kia’s unique electronic shift dial, beyond simply convenience and aesthetic format, the new electronic shift dial was a part that had to be applied beyond the limit of partial change.
Q. It must not have been easy to change the dashboard while maintaining the overall built-in design layout. Were there any memorable difficulties or episodes in this process?
There are always oppositions and concerns with change. And we humans instinctively make the most stable choice. However, I think that the attitude of a designer should always be new attempts and challenges that seem less likely. Of course, these challenges are also accompanied by conflict and discomfort.
For example, in the process of modifying the entire cluster and center garnish, there were difficulties in the process of creating a panoramic display that satisfies everything, such as usability, visibility, and safety. Not everyone agreed with the panoramic display from the start. As there were more and more parts to change, the cost of the investment soared, and parts that seemed technically impossible continued to be reported. However, everyone in each department worked hard to solve the problem. Whenever we faced a big problem, we gathered opinions to find a solution, and each time a better solution was derived. Fortunately, there was a consensus on the concept of Seltos - an SUV that combines boldness and high-tech -, and we were able to design the shape of the dashboard because we were confident in our direction.
Q. Are there any other changes in the interior design of The New Seltos besides the dashboard and center console? Can you tell us about other changes that consumers will notice in the interior design?
Aside from the panoramic display and electronic shift dial, the interior of The New Seltos has a few eye-catching minor elements. The first is a cluster: it has a more horizontal and lower structure than before. In particular, the center garnish was refined by adding a bold curvature to the top while maintaining volume and robustness. The current cheerful-looking central air vent has also been changed to a calmer look to harmonize with other elements. The integrated controller at the bottom also stands out. The climate control button and infotainment control button are designed in one control system, but the group is divided by color and chrome garnish for intuitive use. Of course, we have developed our strengths without losing the original concept in all aspects while inheriting the design heritage of Seltos to complete the overall looks.
The interior and exterior design of The New Seltos goes beyond the limits of partial changes. Thanks to this, The New Seltos was able to fully accommodate Kia’s new design philosophy while maximizing the design strength of the current Seltos. This was possible because of the constant efforts of many people to provide the owners with a new experience and perfect design. Many people are looking forward to what kind of changes The New Seltos will bring to consumers in the future.
Photography by Nam-Gyu Park
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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