Hyundai wants to move upmarket. There’s good reason why: The company’s Genesis and Equus sedans have a much higher profit margin that the smaller, less luxurious cars in the lineup. But getting recognized as a premium carmaker when your history says otherwise is harder said than done.
Enter the Vision G concept, a 5.1-meter long premium coupe (with a 3170mm wheelbase) developed at Hyundai’s California design studio — under the direction of former BMW Designworks designer Chris Chapman — with input from the carmaker’s global design team in three continents. We spoke to design manager Rogerio Flores (exterior) and Andrew Moir (interior) to find out more about it.
“We wanted to create a high luxury car but maintain a sense of sportiness,” says Flores, “So we designed wide wheel arches for the 22-inch wheels and a high beltline.” Indeed there is a lot of forward energy in the Vision G’s bodyside: Its long hood, rearward cabin and short rear deck are characteristic of the proportions of a rear-drive luxury car. But it’s the bodyside feature lines – aluminum rocker treatment with incorporated airvent, pronounced lightcatcher and robust shoulder — that really dominate in side view and make for a great stance in the rear three quarter view. Here, the connection to the car’s vertical taillamps lends a slingshot-like feel as it carries forward towards the front grille.
All of the exterior feature lines point forward towards the massive grille, a signature ‘coat of arms’ made from aluminum that consists of wing-like shapes as on the Genesis logo. This is flanked by headlamps with integrated bronze elements that pull the eye around the corner and onto the front fender, accentuating the width of the car, while vents nestled in the lower bumper tie in with the fog lamp shape and brake duct inlet for a harmonious feel.
Clever exterior details include the directional door handle – recessed into the body aft of the door – that relates to the side on which it resides; the satin brushed aluminum brightwork on the lower front bumper that works to pull the car down and give it a road-hugging stance; the Zagato-like valley on the roof that contrasts with the hood’s power bulge; and the cutouts around the rear lamps that give the rear corner visual interest whilst simultaneously denoting the amount of space in the trunk.
But it’s the trunk’s design that I find most interesting: at each side of the circular backlight – which Flores calls a “3D walkaround line” – is the opening mechanism for the rear hatch. When the rear is opened the backlight stays in place, yet it provides a large opening that eases access to the cargo area. And it’s a very neatly concealed shutline that makes for a very unique design: “It’s a hatch without being a hatch,” says Flores.
Another interesting design element is the DLO trim that carries forward onto the front fender, matching the unique hinge style on the trunk. It’s an element we’ve seen on Hyundai’s Sonata, though shorter and more elegant.
The Vision G’s interior saw themes submitted by Hyundai’s main design center in Korea as well as the California studio and the European design center in Germany. “These came to California where we pulled it all together,” says Moir. “The keywords were ‘modern premium’, we wanted to create an interior that felt contemporary and fresh.”
This was achieved by quilting the white leather seats in a pattern that is new and inspired by Fox studio’s search lights and incorporating cutting-edge technology such as the curved LG-sourced HMI screen that is slightly canted towards the driver. Designers also fused different materials together; materials that were both contrasting and complementary. The shiny and polished elements are bronze and brushed aluminum, which are inlaid into oak and walnut woods — more traditional materials that are native to California – that were “just barely treated” to retain their tactile and authentic qualities. There has clearly been a lot of time and attention spent poring over details.
The four-passenger cabin is airy and spacious — as expected of a car this size – thanks to the long IP and continuous theme. While the stretched IP emphasizes the horizontal width of the interior, the wood and bronze inlay provides a sense of depth and space.
Getting into the consciousness of premium car buyers isn’t going to be easy, but the Vision G certainly has the potential to be seen as a halo product for the Korean brand. We hope to see more concepts along this line as Hyundai prepares for its family of future premium products.
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