NEW YORK, New York — Who would have guessed that the auto brand that would sooth our sport/utility-sore eyes at the 2018 New York International Auto Show with a gorgeously organic, fluid, elegant gran turismo electric vehicle would be Hyundai’s luxury upstart, Genesis?
Actually, we would, had we properly decoded Genesis styling chief SangYup Lee’s hints from the Geneva show in early March, where the Hyundai brand showed off its Le Fil Rouge sedan, a concept that could easily pass for a Genesis. SangYup Lee was reunited with his former Bentley colleague, Luc Donckerwolke, when Lee left for the South Korean automaker a year after Donckerwolke left to become Genesis’ design chief. They’ve been killing it on the auto show circuit since, especially with concept models, which the rest of the industry seems to have all but abandoned.
The Genesis Essentia concept is, hands-down, the car of the New York show this year. We got a quick download from Donkerwolke on how it came to be.
1. It’s an essential part of building Genesis into a credible luxury brand.
“We were looking for an icon for the brand,” Donckerwolke says. “We wanted to find the right transport.” From a pure car enthusiast’s point of view, the only way to do that was not with a big, hulking SUV living room on wheels—the sort of thing traditional sports carmakers are fond of showing these days—but with a sensuous sports car.
2. Beautiful, organic lines, not a wedge.
Donckerwolke calls the Essentia’s lines non-aggressive and pure, “like a modern Ferrari Lusso.” He notes that the designs from the 1960s that defined the era and influenced lesser cars were not from Ferrari or Lamborghini, but from Bertone and Pininfarina.
3. It began with aerodynamics.
“We started with an aero concept,” and divided the concept into the cockpit and the body panels. Donckerwolke repeats that the results are “anti-aggressive, non-wedge.” He adds, “there’s a lot of movement” in the design, “but it’s all balanced.”
4. Making it an EV helps.
“There’s no hood,” Lee notes, though the piece between the front fenders is see-through. You can see the suspension pushrods below the transparent panel.
5. Build it and we will drive.
It’s a sports car, not an autonomous exercise, so it has a real steering wheel. So when will it hit Genesis dealers? It’s a concept only, Donckerwolke and Lee stress, but if Hyundai management could be convinced of the need for such a Genesis icon, we figure it could make it to showrooms in about 2022-23. Built it, Hyundai!