Hyundai Motor’s HDC-1 concept car – also called ‘Le Fil Rouge’ (French for ‘The Red Thread’) provides a glimpse of the Korean carmaker’s design language for its next generation of models. As its name implies, Le Fil Rouge (common thread) is a reflection of Hyundai’s belief that the brand’s past, present and future designs are all connected.
“It is a reinterpretation of Hyundai’s design DNA that originated from the brand’s historical Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept in 1974,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Executive Vice-President and Head of the Hyundai Design Centre (formerly Design Director at Bentley). “Building on our long history of creating distinctive and sporty character in vehicles, we will open a new era for Hyundai design.” This suggests that the ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy which has been used since 2010 is coming to an end.
“Our goal is to build a beloved brand by creating vehicles with heightened emotional value to reshape the landscape of car design. This is the foundation of our concept,” added Sang-yup Lee, Vice- President and Head of Hyundai Styling.
The new concept shows the company’s latest approach in design – Sensuous Sportiness – which will be embodied by all future Hyundai vehicles, ranging from sedans to SUVs. ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ is defined by the harmony between four fundamental elements in vehicle design: proportion, architecture, styling, and technology.
The goal of this new theme is to bring instinctive beauty, creating emotional value and desirability in Hyundai vehicles.
The Le Fil Rouge creates proportional character based on the ‘golden-ratio’ – a common mathematical ratio found in nature. The Golden ratio is established when a line is divided into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. Using this ratio for the form of the concept car enabled Hyundai designers to create an aesthetically pleasing, natural looking composition that embodies charisma.
Proportional uniqueness is further achieved through a long wheelbase, large wheels and short overhangs. A respectful dash to axle – the distance from front wheel centre to base of windscreen –provides a comfortable driving position, whilst a teardrop roofline completes the overall look.
With the Le Fil Rouge, Hyundai took a new approach called ‘Light Architecture’ which integrates a progressive identity into the brand’s design heritage. Light Architecture generates a dynamic look and forward motion effect for the vehicle. The front and the rear pillars, as well as the roof, are seamlessly blended into the overarching silhouette of the vehicle, as though it is drawn with a single line.
The exterior and interior are smoothly merged by the ‘Tube Architecture’, keeping the exterior’s sensuous and sporty character consistent inside the vehicle. The Tube Architecture’s principle is to create the same emotional value inside and outside the vehicle, while also allowing for a lightweight profile.
The interior design differentiates between the needs of both the driver and passengers. The front passenger seat maximises comfort even on long-distance trips with more ample legroom, while the driver’s seat position is designed to further add to the fun of driving with optimised ergonomics. A wrap-around architecture emphasises depth, creating a calm, spacious and comfortable travel environment for everyone inside.
Another goal of the team was to create a vehicle that is instantly recognisable as a Hyundai from a distance or amongst a herd. This was achieved by creating a sensuous tension on the side through a harmonious blend of layered crisp lines and pure volumes. Concave and convex forms are carefully orchestrated to provide a sexy character.
Also recognisable is the concept’s distinctive ambience with a wide, layered front bonnet, combined with a further enhanced Cascading Grille, Hyundai’s most distinguishing design feature. The new Cascading Grille comes with a three-dimensional treatment, featuring parametric jewels inside, giving the vehicle a commanding presence.
A core design principle for Hyundai designers was to create a design that enables a seamless experience of function. Inspired by aircraft ventilation, a two-way air ventilation system blows air over the curved surface of lightweight tube architecture.
Revitalised wood and high-tech fabrics are used extensively throughout and sculpted into exquisite, sensuous forms. This evokes natural beauty with an emotional touch to add an airy feel to the vehicle. There is also a panoramic floating display coupled with haptic technology sits in front of the driver, providing access to intuitive controls for climate control and other vehicle configurations.
Being a design study, there are no details about the powertrain although the designers may have thought about electrically-powered propulsion or perhaps a powerful hybrid system.
Given the discontinuation of the Genesis Coupe when the Genesis Motors luxury brand was established two years ago, it could well be that that the Le Fil Rouge is a sneak preview of a new luxury coupe rumoured for unveiling in 2021.