A pine cone from outer space? This could be one way to describe the car, given that Hyundai’s designers openly state that for their ix-Metro hybrid concept – a CUV, or City Utility Vehicle, for the sub-B segment in spite of its almost 4 metre length – inspiration for the exterior came from the world of space travel, whereas they looked towards the pine cone, with its natural fragmentation of a spherical object, for the interior. In reality, this show-car represents the Korean carmaker’s intention to explore a new formal language, relinquishing the soft, flowing lines that have distinguished many of Hyundai’s production models and the concepts from Namyang in recent times. “We wanted the ix-Metro to be something out of this world”, says Rogelio Flores. “A protective capsule straight out of Star Trek”, concurs Sandy Hartono.
Flores was responsible for the exterior (together with Seunghee Oh) while Hartono was in charge of the interior (with Yoon Seungeun and Yuki Ono, and with Kim Min-Hye on colour and trim) of this curious car that almost looks like a mechanical beetle and which encapsulates a whole spate of fascinating technological features (perhaps even too many and too soon). To be fair, however, you’d expect nothing less from a concept. The ix-Metro has drawn from the know-how of every one of Hyundai’s style centres. Designed in Korea by the Global Design Team (its fifth concept), the car incorporates concepts from the brand’s design centres in the US, Europe and Japan – for example, the interior was developed from a sketch by the Japanese designer Yuki Ono.
“We took our inspiration from NASA and even sci-fi movies because spacecraft are universally understood symbols of progress and innovation” says Flores. Targeted at European urbanites, the ix-Metro offers all the “practicality, robustness and versatility of a CUV” says Flores, but in a stylishly sophisticated package to project a trendy, adventurous and fun-seeking personality. “The ix-Metro caters to the need for creative self-expression”, continues Flores. “Our cars are more than an extension of ourselves, they’re an expression of our inner selves. Just like the clothes we wear, our cars serve as a second skin.”
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 180