THE cradled hands resting in front of us on the boardroom table are among the most revered in the motoring industry. Belonging to Peter Schreyer, the designer who cut his teeth at Audi nearly four decades ago, he's the man who has almost single handedly changed the global landscape for Kia.
Debonair yet inconspicuous, his look is trademark. Black suit combined with a black shirt and cravat, along with thick black-rimmed glasses. Despite the dark attire there was an aura of colour.
Schreyer was unusually relaxed at the North American auto show in Detroit this month. Smiling and talkative, he rated the release of his latest model among his proudest moments with Kia.
"It's really a special car," he said after the rear-wheel drive four-door Stinger was unveiled.
The large fastback sedan has attracted attention the world over since its reveal. Departing from the usual SUV, sedan or hatch - a range he has overhauled from an eclectic rabble into a cohesive family since his appointment in 2006.
In fact, his work at Kia was so good that sister company Hyundai appointed him to also head its design work in 2013.
German born, he was first foreign president of the South Korean brand which lured him from the Volkswagen Group.
But despite all those accolades, there was a sense of accomplishment surrounding Schreyer in Detroit.
He is, ultimately, a designer at heart. Not an executive.
Remarkably close to the concept vehicle first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Stinger possesses the hallmarks of a true gran turismo - long bonnet, short front overhang, powerful haunches and a long wheelbase.
Schreyer said "this is another strong statement" from the brand which he sees as a youthful challenger in the market. "It comes from a company you would not expect," he said. "We are a volume brand, but if you look at the products, they are quality in design and performance…with a premium feeling.
"It's a new way of taking attention to performance and develop it together. We have done it with (performance engineer) Albert Beirman because as he said he wants it to drive how it looks.
"We are a volume brand, but if you look at the products, they are quality in design and performance…with a premium feeling."
While the large car market is shrinking, he believes there is life in the genre.
"There a lot of very positive examples, especially from the German brands like the BMW 4 and 6 and the Audi A5 and A7 and Mercedes," Schreyer said.
And as for the chances of a coupe or convertible derivatives of the Stinger?
"From a design point of view it would be a piece of cake to take out two doors and cut the roof off, it would look great. At the moment there is no plan for that, even if it would be great," he said.
"It's a big step for Kia. We'll have to see how this car comes to the market.
"There was never a discussion whether to do one or the other."
Nothing, its seems, is impossible for this man of enduring talent.
- Kia Motors Corporation was founded in 1944 and is Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles.
- Hyundai Motor Company owns about one third of Kia Motor Corporation after the brand declared bankruptcy during the Asian financial crisis.
- Kia Motors in turn has ownership in 22 different Hyundai companies.
- Peter Schreyer was appointed as chief designer officer in 2006.
- Schreyer's other design work has included the VW Beetle (1997), Audi TT (1998), Audi A4 (2000) and Hyundai Tuscon (2015)
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