Genesis GV80 Concept Preview
Looks like: The next frontier for Genesis
Defining characteristics: Deeply contoured, muscular styling; fancy, attainably futuristic cabin
Ridiculous features: Quad-zone occupant layout with individual controls and entertainment functions ensuring none of the humans in the vehicle actually … ulchhh, interact
Chance of being mass-produced: In some similarly designed form with toned-down styling flourishes and a more marketable powertrain? High.
In the beginning, when Hyundai created the Genesis G80 and the G90, the Korean automaker had long since come into its own producing quality cars but still needed to distance itself from its unfairly lingering bargain-brand rep. Then Hyundai said, "Let there be luxury," and there was luxury. And Hyundai saw that it was good…
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Skip ahead a few verses to the 2017 New York International Auto Show, after Hyundai's all-new luxury brand's two sedans have earned high praise and Genesis readies to birth a new concept — the GV80 Concept hydrogen fuel-cell SUV, to be specific. The GV80 Concept pretty clearly announces Genesis' intentions to use its sedan success to break into the exploding SUV market — but with an eye on fuel efficiency looking ahead to when the gas-price gravy train of the past couple of years finally peters out.
Apart from some pretty out-there flourishes — like those dual-slit headlights and graphic design on the fan-blade wheels and pillars that look like the webbing on Spider-Man's suit — the GV80 Concept boasts a shapely, athletic-looking exterior design that would look at home among today's luxury SUVs.
Notable exterior features include the signature Genesis crest grille adorned with a diamond-motif mesh, a dramatic grille surround, lower-front-end body elements that Genesis says channel air around the front wheels and rocker panels for improved aerodynamics, alloy trim and Ice Granite-finished exterior panels, and 23-inch mesh alloy wheels purported to reduce weight and cool the large brakes.
Inside the forward-thinking cabin, front-seat occupants are surrounded by a bridge-like dashboard topped by a 22-inch-long curved, horizontal display that flows from the passenger seat into the driver's instrument cluster. The cluster itself includes a classic speedometer along with a digital data display. Strategically positioned capacitive touch controls allow the front passenger to access common navigation, entertainment, communication and environment functions in their own mini-view on the right side of the wide display without disturbing the driver. Meanwhile, the center console runs the length of the interior, creating four separate zones for all passengers, each of whom has access to individualized entertainment functions.
The cabin is tastefully and lushly appointed, with semi-aniline leather upholstery featuring quilted diamond stitching detail on the door panels, seats and center console. The upper instrument panel is covered in leather with contrast suede on the panel bridge that Genesis calls Architexture (get it?), with polished aluminum trim below. The ash wood center console, floorboards and cargo-area trim are intended to provide an organic contrast to the other materials.
As for the GV80 Concept's hypothetical hydrogen fuel-cell plug-in electric powertrain, we don't see it happening, as a persistent dearth of FCEV refueling stations will continue to limit market viability well into the foreseeable future. But it could simply be a nod to a more utopian future (hey, it could happen!) where fuel efficiency and fancy-pants family haulers aren't mutually exclusive concepts. According to a statement from the brand, "Genesis will continue to study the benefits of similar alternative propulsion systems and eco-friendly technologies for future product applications."
Will the characteristically non-luxury brand that begat a legitimate luxury brand that begat two desirable luxury sedans now beget a competitive, eco-conscious luxury SUV? We'll be-getting back to you on that.