Peter Schreyer, 53, will add pizzazz to a company now known primarily for its low-cost and high-quality cars.
"Mr Schreyer's appointment will complement Kia?s significantly increasing emphasis on automobile design and support the ongoing regeneration of its model range," a company statement said.
Schreyer starts the new job on September 1. He will oversee Kia's regional design centres in Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Tokyo as well as the flagship Namyang Design Center in Korea.
He has headed the Volkswagen group's advanced design operations since last year, having been chief designer at