E for Europe. That could have been enough, as a name for the first concept car to come out of Korean manufacturer Hyundai’s new European Design Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany. But its designers wanted to go one better, and have called it E³, E cubed, where the E stands not only for Europe, but also for “Enjoyment, Environment, Extraordinary”.
In the industry today, where concept cars are a kind of “dress rehearsal” for imminent production runs, the E³ is set to remain basically a playground for ideas, blending the interior space of an MPV with the compact exteriors of a C-category car.
Right from the first sketches in April 2003, and in the four 1:4 scale chalk models, the lines of the interior were developed with great clarity, focusing on simplicity: a single instrument in front of the driver, the single-spoke steering wheel, and a central console housing all the functions, with two liquid crystal screens which when not in use fold away into the space between the console and the dash.
Creating the exteriors was more complex, as the design process reveals, including doing away with the rear side window. The large areas feature simple surfaces which intentionally recall the Golf, 307 and Stilo, while the elimination of the central pillar between the doors, in order to fit hinges front and rear, enables them to open to 90 degrees for ample access to the interior. And then there are the generous-sized wheels, the LEDs used for the lighting clusters: basically all the modern features which lend a touch of modern, sporting appeal to this brand new Hyundai.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 147