Spun off in 2015, Hyundai's Genesis luxury marque is working to nudge its way into the conversation alongside more established luxury leaders. At the New York Auto Show, it's catching hold of eyes and minds with a rolling piece of fuel cell jewelry it calls the GV80 concept. The striking SUV gives a first look at what a Genesis utility vehicle will be all about.
An auto brand, luxury or not, won't get very far these days without an SUV or two in its lineup, so it was only a matter of time before Genesis showed a first look at the type of SUV that whispers "Hyundai luxury."
The GV80 is clearly a number of rungs short of a polished production model, but we do hope its silhouette sticks when Genesis closes in on a production SUV design. The fast-flowing lines and sloping roofline provide a touch of sleek, sporty class, without the need to yell from the rafters that it's an "urban-active fastback SUV GT coupe" or some such nonsense. Automaker descriptors can often be downright ridiculous, but Genesis' "athletic elegance" sums up the GV80's look quite well. Points for that, but Genesis gives a couple of those points back by mentioning the "urban adventurer" in its announcement.
Up front, the GV80 has a beaming expression with a prominent mesh crest that could look rather stately if not for the main grille/lower grille split that makes it slightly disjointed. A small spike at the lower edge of that double-grille marks the central axis of the car, a cue that is repeated on the upper brake light, tying the front and rear together. Sharply sliced quad headlamps serve as a sly set of eyes, a design that's mirrored at the back with a quartet of slim laser fiber optic tail lamps. The thin rear vents allude to the fuel cell powertrain at work.
In addition to athletic, flowing lines and surfaces, the profile tickles the eye with lattice mesh-like pillars and wheel vanes, lending a uniquely embellished look. Those fan-like 23-in alloys are designed to cut weight and deliver cooling to the large brakes below.
Behind the electronically handled doors, the broad, clean dashboard serves as a deck for the stretched 22-in OLED display. This curved widescreen disappears at left into the instrument hump, inside which is a blend of digital display technology and a classic analog speedometer.
The angled center console dropping off the dashboard isn't merely a decorative platform, but serves as a capacitive multifunction controller. Each metal inlay accesses a commonly used function on the display, such as navigation, entertainment and communication. The driver and passenger can use this central controller for their respective halves of the upper display, and rear passengers also have this level of control with the inlays in the rear-stretched console spine and entertainment displays on the front seat backs. The control system also has a Gorilla Glass touchpad and knurled metal wheel at the top of the front console.
Beyond that, Genesis has stripped out the usual physical and digital controls and displays from the dashboard face and console. The clean, simple design might appeal to some, but we find it rather cold and boring. The result may have been intentional, but it feels to us like the design team spent all its time and resources on the exterior and specific interior features and then quickly penciled in the rest of the dashboard right before project deadline rolled around.
The GV80 interior trim doesn't look like anything special in the photos, but there are some premium materials at play. You might miss it because of the gray color, but the center console is actually made from ash wood, which also appears on the floorboards. Semi-aniline leather features throughout, and quilted diamond stitching is used on select surfaces like the door panels and the seat inserts. Architexture suede provides soft-touch feel on the front occupant-wrapping dashboard wings/door handles and also features in the trunk. Polished aluminum trim underlines the dashboard.
The fuel cell aspect of the GV80 appears solely a buzzword and an early hint that Genesis will follow Hyundai in exploring alternative powertrains. The company doesn't get into any details more revealing than a simple "latest plug-in hydrogen fuel cell electric technology" description.
The GV80 clearly isn't a direct product preview, but perhaps some of its styling and features will carry over to an eventual production SUV. In the meantime, the concept will be on display at the New York Auto Show, which opens to the public on Friday and runs through Sunday, April 23.
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