If it looks awesome, that’s because it is. The Genesis Essentia concept is a gaze into the electric future according to the fledgling Genesis luxury brand and the product of a global collaboration between the brand’s European, US and Korean design centers under the direction of Luc Donckerwolke and Sangyup Lee.
For the past three years, the Genesis brand has used the New York auto show to showcase concept vehicles. The first was the aptly named New York concept, a luxurious foray into the future of the Hyundai Motor Group’s luxury offshoot and a precursor to the G70 sedan revealed in New York this year. In stark contrast, the company showed the GV80 SUV concept at the 2017 New York auto show that was designed at Hyundai’s California studio.
But the Essentia concept is entirely new — a two-door Gran Turismo whose design is as captivating as it is groundbreaking. The high-performance concept is the antithesis of the self-driving autonomous pods that have been all the rage recently. The concept recalls a time when driving was fun, which people did just for the sake of it without any particular destination in mind.
The Genesis Essentia concept is said to reimagine the ‘Athletic Elegance’ design narrative while showcasing product performance and technology. As the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, the concept also features a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque to reduce weight.
“The Genesis Essentia concept defines our vision for an electric Gran Turismo that integrates Athletic Elegance and Genesis DNA as defining parameters,” says Luc Donckerwolke, Hyundai executive VP of design and head of Genesis design. “A Gran Turismo typology highlights our ambition as a luxurious car brand for the connoisseurs and it is the perfect base to project our DNA in the future.”
The Essentia concept is the first public exterior design project to come out of the Frankfurt-based Genesis Design Center Europe led by Sasha Selipanov.
Inspired by iconic Gran Turismo proportions, the Essentia concept is low, sleek and mean. The electric motors are prominently displayed beneath a long, glazed hood, its swept-back cabin is accessed via butterfly doors, and copper wheels and trim draw a striking contrast with its ‘Stardust Gray’ metallic paint finish.
“The search for dynamic proportions was contrasted with advanced aerodynamic flows to highlight the bionic combination of performance and aesthetics,” says Donckerwolke. “Essentia embodies the genetic elements of Genesis design.”
The Essentia concept’s front face introduces an evolution of the Genesis ‘Crest’ grille that highlights efficiency and aerodynamics. Visible through the transparent hood is the advanced carbon fiber chassis, pronounced formula car-style nose cone, as well as the exposed, pushrod suspension. Intakes positioned left and right of the grille function as air curtains, streamlining airflow around the front corners.
Flanking the grille are signature Genesis quad lights, first introduced on the GV80 Concept shown last year. Made possible by laser optical technology, the thin, flush headlights are integrated into the Essentia’s body. Extending onto a side blade aft of the front wheels, the lights create a unique light signature for the GT. Functional air outlets located just behind the front wheels reduce pressure buildup and contribute to reduced drag.
The side profile is dominated by the iconic parabolic line that provides visual structure to the body while also emphasizing its overall length. The anti-wedge parabolic line gracefully runs along the shoulder line until it meets the muscular rear wheelarches. Butterfly doors enable effortless ingress and egress while a sensor mounted in the B-pillar integrates fingerprint controls and biometric facial recognition for opening and closing the doors.
The rear of the concept is defined by an aerodynamic cut-off surface that houses the flush rear quad lights and emphasizes the muscles of the rear haunch. An elegant rear diffuser surrounded by carbon fiber acts as a clever, integrated venting solution for the rear wheelarch. Midas metal copper, which is also used as detail trim on the bespoke wheels inspired by the Genesis G-Matrix philosophy, surrounds the entirety of the DLO.
Created at the company’s California based Genesis Design Center America, the Genesis Essentia concept’s interior design revolved around the notion of maximizing the connection between car and driver. Reducing clutter and focusing on beautifully executed details while displaying the elegant transparent cockpit cell was critical.
“On the interior, purism has also dominated the creative process for the interior skin, the layer in contact with the occupants, but less traditionalist the connection between the outside skin and the internal structure. We connected both with our flowing G-Matrix that uses a dynamic web allowing lightness and internal air flow. This highlights the exciting opportunities being explored in 3D printing which transcends the lengthy, inflexible and costly tooling process,” says Donckerwolke.
The interior of Essentia concept utilizes a mixed-material approach influenced by high fashion and classic color combinations. The Color and Trim team based at the company’s Design Center in Namyang chose cognac leather seats with chevron quilting to envelop the driver and passengers in the cockpit, while a slim center console covered in Oxford Blue leather bisects the cabin. The front and rear seat belt slots are out of the ordinary, composed of glass pearl-finished and treated aluminum and polished aluminum. Layered carbon fiber décor adds a sporty and technical element to the interior details, with a 3D optical effect achieved through the latest technology of layering individual pieces of carbon.
Ahead of the driver is an 8-inch widescreen display with piano black surround. The information in the cluster includes only what is necessary for driving. The widescreen display is operated by a jewel-like central controller, providing a fulfilling user experience for both driver and front passenger.
The rear seats, which are accessed through Essentia’s butterfly doors, are covered in contrasting Oxford Blue velvet. In line with Essentia’s purpose as a true grand tourer, a luggage compartment behind the rear seats affords plenty of cargo room for a weekend road trip with no particular destination in mind.
Underneath the Essentia concept’s carbon-fiber monocoque is a high-density battery pack and multiple electric motors, which enabled the design team to redefine classic GT proportions with an extremely low, transparent hood that flows seamlessly into the windshield and the ‘bubble’ roof.
Unlike typical electric vehicle layouts, the Essentia concept’s battery pack is housed in an I-shape structure in the center tunnel (instead of underneath the passenger compartment). This allowed for a super-low, 1270mm roofline and spacious cabin while still keeping weight centralized.
The Essentia concept was designed to be connected to the world around it while providing its occupants a virtual escape. Its technology surpasses the industry standard, focusing on the connection between the vehicle and its environment in the near future.
For those moments when knowing what’s ahead is critical, the Essentia features advanced vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle technology. The technology can inform the driver of up-to-the-minute road conditions and help avoid accidents and traffic jams. In addition, the Essentia concept uses machine learning intelligence to recommend routes based on driver inclination.
When the optimal route is chosen, the Essentia concept automatically tailors the driving character to its owner’s preference for that road — from seat position to powertrain performance and audiophile system to chassis settings.
The Genesis Essentia concept also integrates with smart homes and devices, offering situation-based, personalized recommendations. Entirely customizable, the system also allows the car to connect seamlessly with the driver’s smart home systems to preprogram HVAC settings, turn on lights and allow for package deliveries, automatically taking the stress out of mundane tasks.
AI also plays a critical role in the technological capabilities of the Essentia concept. Voice recognition and the next-generation Genesis Intelligent Assistant allow for two-way dialogue and full vehicle control through voice command, as well as individual driving behavior analysis and driver mood determination. The Essentia can also transact mobile payments through its center screen, making electronic payments possible.