as long as there are subjects, dumb wannabe car magazines like Clodsumer Retorts will continue to rake in American bucks. Like I've said before, Kia is supposedly the newcomer in America but they have the fat veterans Toyota beat BIG time in styling. Mazda too. If Protege is the best styling Mazda can come up with in a smaller 4-door sedan, there probably is something then to the fact that the Japanese car companies poo-poo spending any time and money with small cars that don't make them big money. Kia designers decided to stop and think first. Hey, if we style our cars with a nice looking design we'll sell them to an American public STARVED FOR NICE LOOKING SMALL CARS. Rio, Spectra and Sephia are pulling away Civic, Corolla and Protege shoppers when the people get a look at the body styles. No problem, Toyota's got the Calty Corolla on the books and up for sale in 2003. Gotta get a look at that thing. I KNOW TOYOTA can still design a nice looking small 4-door sedan.
Toyota has the best reliability in all vehicles. True, some may not be as stylish to some people. DaimlerChrysler minivans greatly outsell Toyota Sienna and probably because of more attractive styling. Kia is like DC in that styling is emphasized over reliability. Neither have yet developed the reputation equal to Toyota for reliability.
Sephia design... I can sum that up in one word: outdated.
Most modern designs use the wedge shape, meaning that the front end of the car is lower and overall profile escalates from front to rear. This is done for three reasons: profile gives the vehicle a sense of forward motion; profile is more aerodynamic; increased trunk volume.
The Sephia's profile has a sloping hood and sloping trunk. This design was used unsuccesfully on the Contour/Mystique and 96-00 Taurus/Sable. As a result, the Sephia has only 10.4 cubic feet of trunk space. That is small considering that most of its competitors have right around 13 cubic feet of trunk space.
The Sephia uses a straight character line which appears from the fenders to the rear quarter panels. However, the Sephia's hood and trunk profile are rounded, contradicting the character line and giving vehicle a bulbous appearance.
The window frames are painted body color. Traditionally, this is a trait of a base model vehicle, with the upper models having black window frames. Black window frames give the vehicle's greenhouse a more integrated look. The Sephia's monochrome treatment of the window frames lend to a choppy look. However, monochrome window frames can be done successfully if the monochrome treatment is carried throughout the design. However, the Sephia's black plastic sail panels on the rear windows and black plastic mirror-base treatment add to the awkward look.
The interior is just plain outdated. Those door panels? Exact replicas of the 1995 Protege. The switchgear? Exact replicas of the 1995 Protege. The steering wheel? Exact replica of the 1995 Protege. Or are they? I wouldn't be surprised if they are Mazda parts, just like the engine and platform. Everything's based on a design Mazda got rid of years ago.
Here's a 2001 Sephia and the same car with the character line removed, trunk redesigned to achieve the wedge shape (and two more cubic feet of trunk space), and window frames blackened:
I prefer the modified version. What do you guys and gals think?
Jstand, thanks for auto design 101. I had to pick up my roommate and your post had me looking at cars all the way there. After I picked her up, we both were looking at cars. You are right, the pillars look better black as opposed to the color of the rest of the car. Would improve the looks of the Sephia if they did what you showed.
I'm finding it much more entertaining than watching Gary Condit duck flying accusations. From Sephia's finely shaped headlights with just the right amount of mirroring inside to the lines gently sloping back from the inside edge of the headlights back towards the windshield she's nicely appointed all the way around. Beats the blocky chunkyness of Protege which conjures up images of Mitsubishi's Mirage or Mitsubishi's whatever. Feel free to post something that actually starts to argue against the fine body design of this hot-selling Korean import. So far it all adds up to one painstakingly long wait for Shaq to put up another UGLY free throw attempt that bounces desperately off the top of the backboard and over the top out of bounds.
I always thought the Protege was a nice-looking, classy car (sort of like a miniature Audi A-4). Personally, I think Kia would have done well to imitate the 1999 Protege body redesign, especially considering the Mazda bloodline already imparted upon the Sephia. Although I have to admit that I also think the Sephia is friendly-looking, too.
Lately I've noticed a real bloom in Kias on the road, especially in the Rio and Spectra 5-door. The Spectra, IMO, gives 5-door buyers (all 36 of us, it seems) a nice styling alternative to the Elantra GT. The GT is kind of odd-looking by comparison, whereas I think the Spectra styling is cleaner. I should know, because I have to look at the but-ugly back end of my GT every morning when I go out to the driveway! Woof!!
I read in USA Today (7/27) that 35% of Kia owners are under the age of 35. Food for thought.