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How Hyundai used Italian students to design its new mid-engined concept sports car

Alex Lloyd
February 27, 2014

Let's talk about things you don't see every day: A gaggle of skydiving retirees, for instance. Or Gary Busey not being strange. Or perhaps a stunning two-seater, mid-engined sports car designed by Hyundai that can visually compete with the Italians.

Yep, that last part isn't happening, or at least that's what you'd say having not seen the Hyundai PassoCorto Concept, a machine heading to the Geneva auto show as a result of a collaboration between Hyundai's European design center and the students at the Istituto Europeo di Design of Turin.

And yes, Turin is in Italy, which is why all of this makes perfect sense.

We're not expecting the PassoCorto (Italian for short wheelbase) to make production, but with both Kia and Hyundai delving into the luxury segment, a future sportier car might not be out of the question.

The students were asked to design a car for today's Gen Y buyers, and refreshingly, it didn't turn into a nerd-fest of technology nor an exercise in appeasing the hipster. It's a proper, racy sports car that could technically compete with the Alfa Romeo 4C; in my opinion, that's exactly what's needed to get the younger generation off Flappy Birds and excited about cars again. The two best designs were picked by Hyundai's European designers, and meshed  along with adding some of their own flair  to create the wild concept we see here.

Under the hood sits a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder unit, slated to produce around 268 hp. At 4.1 meters long and with a 2.45 meter wheelbase, the PassoCorto is short and fat, much like the 4C. We'll see its stance in all its wideness at the Geneva show next week.

Hopefully this remains a sign that more sportiness may derive from Korea, and that when it does, the designers turn to their Italian counterparts for inspiration. Apparently Italians have never heard of hipsters, or geeks, or chaps. Which is why everything they design turns out to be stunningly beautiful. Except the Fiat Multipla. That was presumably designed by a Norwegian beluga whale enthusiast during siesta.