Hyundai Vision G Concept Aims Higher
As Hyundai rolled out the Vision G concept coupe at Los Angeles Museum of Art, Hyundai’s U.S. chief designer Chris Chapman took us back to the dark ages, specifically to the idea of chivalry.
“We passed around this word, ‘chivalry,’ the notion that one can be considerate of others regardless of financial stature,” he said. “While…cars [such the Vision G] aren’t necessarily for the masses, our version here is definitely more attainable than luxury cars of similar performance, size and quality. So in the design process we sort of thought about this idea that chivalry transcends class.”
The noble-sounding notion of transcending class has actually been happening at Hyundai for a long time, but frankly, until now, it’s been more a story of class ascension than anything else. The company has steadily upped its quality ratings, size, and creature comforts of its products since it first landed in the U.S. three decades ago, and its most ambitious endeavors to date involving the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan and sports coupe in 2008, and the audacious, full-size Equus luxury sedan for 2010. Buoyed by what it considers a positive experience with those products—the second-generation Genesis sedan in particular has been quite well received—Hyundai appears poised to expand the top of its range.
While many new cars—especially concept cars—rely on glitzy ornamentation to make a design statement, the Vision G does so just as much with its muscular body. The pillar-less hardtop body gets rather thick-waisted in the doors before tapering toward the back, so much so that the rear fenders stick out from the body like a 1980 Porsche 911 Turbo’s. Meanwhile, the roofline stretches rearward almost all the way to the end of the decklid, giving it almost a “baseball cap” profile and leaving some question as to whether Hyundai intended it to be a hatchback or a coupe. (The cut-line for the cargo area suggests that it is a hatchback.) Indeed, squint a little and you can almost imagine the Vision G rendered as a five-door, a la the Audi A7. Now there’s an idea for a future Genesis variant.
That said, there are abundance of nifty details whose originality is questionable but all of which seem to work nicely in sum. The taillamps, for example, are a departure for Hyundai, but would look right at home on the Cadillac CTS, while the hockey stick-shaped lower bodyside graphic is rather similar to the one on the new BMW 7-Series. (The grille holds a large degree of Aston Martin.)
The Vision G’s splendid interior is groundbreaking for Hyundai, if not the industry. The leather, suede and wood trimmings show an attention to craftsmanship not seen before in a Hyundai, though the dashboard design and many details like the silver buttons, speaker grilles, and the diamond quilted seats appear suspiciously similar to those of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe, another premium, pillar-less four-place coupe. The Vision G also brandishes a technology that automatically opens the door as if being opened by an invisible valet—the very definition of chivalrous.
For what it’s worth, the Vision G is a runner, powered by Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine producing 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. But most of that power will never be needed, as concept cars tend not to drive more than about 10 miles per hour, a tad faster, perhaps, if the trailer it is driving off is on a downward slope.
No, this car is all to show that Hyundai is in the luxury class to stay, and its luxury products, most likely to be marketed under the Genesis name, will have some visual distinction from workaday Hyundais. Next stop: the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where Hyundai will show the concept car to potential customers of said products.
“The confidence Hyundai has gained since launching Genesis in 2008 is the reason we feel that we belong on such prestigious ground [as Pebble Beach},” said Hyundai Motor Group President and Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer. “I think we’ve been successful in balancing the contrast of big strong luxurious coupe that doesn’t necessarily shout its presence…it celebrates luxury with respect and no superficiality.”