There are two ways of looking at Le Fil Rouge, the concept presented by Hyundai in Geneva. The first, at the moment when the Korean company’s designers introduce the concept of Sensuous Sportiness, is – in the words of Luc Donckerwolke (Executive Vice President and head of the Hyundai Design Center) – “the reinterpretation of a design DNA that originated with the historic Giugiaro-designed Pony Coupé Concept of 1974”. A link, he says, that “will allow us to open up a new era in Hyundai design based on our tradition of creating a distinctive, sporty character in our models”. Le Fil Rouge, therefore, as a common thread.
The second way, which is not the negation of the first, is to welcome this concept as “the start of a new era in Hyundai design,” says SangYup Lee, Vice President Styling of Hyundai, who with Donckerwolke forms what he calls the “dream team”; the one committed to shaping new horizons not only for the Huyndai brand but also for Genesis, the Korean company’s luxury brand. “With Sensuous Sportiness,” he says, “we want to create emotional value for a brand that has always been practical. In the world of cars there are not many models that can be defined as sexy. We are trying to produce one, drawing our inspiration from Italian cars of the 60s and 70s, such as the Alfa Romeos – like the 33 Stradale – and the Maseratis”.
Le Fil Rouge (a year of work in Korea, the prototype built in Turin by Vercar) is intended to be a new harmony – Sensuous Sportiness, in fact – of proportions, architecture, style and technology. And although it is an electric car, its design message will apply to all future Hyundai production, from saloons to Suvs. “It is a character”, explains SangYup Lee, “that we will not apply in the sense of a Russian: matryoshka, all models similar to each other, but rather like rooks, kings and queens, knights and bishops of a chessboard: they are all different, but taken together have a meaning”.
And while Genesis will be a symbol of Korean luxury “as Chanel might be in Paris and Bulgari in Rome”, there will be no osmosis between the two brands, because the future of Hyundai will come from Sensuous Sportiness. Let us have a look at it, then, in its four main elements. Unique proportions, above all: a long wheelbase, big wheels, very small overhangs (being electric, of course, helps), but also a good distance between hub and windscreen in the interests of interior comfort, as well as the “drop” roof.
Architecture, the so-called “light architecture”: with the A and C pillars blended into the roof in the form of an arch, exteriors and interiors crafted with the same stylistic imprint, the interiors characterised by maximum ergonomics for the driver and comfort for passengers (with future autonomous driving in mind too). The styling, which must make Le Fil Rouge and its production descendants easily recognisable as Hyundai’s, is a symphony of concave and convex forms that create a sensual tension. Finally, technology: “Great design is nothing without technological challenges,” says SangYup Lee: “We don’t just do style, we also engage in functionality”.
“We are ready to break many taboos”, he continues, “for example, we say goodbye to the tradition that wants to see the front as a human face, the headlights as eyes, the grille as a nose, the bumper as a mouth. There is no bumper here, the headlights and the grille integrate and the face of the car will change depending on whether it is in autonomous, manual or parking mode. The interior thus also turns into a comfortable living room, with just a light touch on the steering wheel needed instead of buttons”. Or at least for as long as there’s a steering wheel.