Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand made quite a splash last week when it unveiled its stunning New York Concept at the 2016 New York auto show.
The newly launched brand instantly became the talk of the show, receiving rave reviews from the automotive press.
For Genesis, this is good news the brand desperately needs. Hyundai announced the creation of Genesis last November to great fanfare and a fair amount of scepticism.
That’s because successfully breaking into the luxury market requires an incredible amount of time, investment and quite a bit of luck.
The Korean brand seems to be following the playbook pioneered by the Japanese luxury trio of Lexus (Toyota), Acura (Honda), and Infiniti (Nissan) more than a quarter century ago. Using Hyundai and sister brand Kia, the Korean automaker spent the last 30 years building up brand equity in the US while establishing itself as a major league mass-market manufacturer with significant market share.
With that squared away, Hyundai decided to move upmarket in search of higher profit margins and clientele with deeper pockets.
The significance of the New York Concept lies with the fact that it’s a thinly disguised signal that Genesis not only intends to build a compact luxury car, but that it intends to challenge BMW’s industry-leading 3-Series.
Hyundai and Genesis certainly have the right people in place to make it happen. Last year, Hyundai tapped former Lamborghini head of brand and design Manfred Fitzgerald to oversee the Genesis brand. While former Bentley design director Luc Donckerwolke was brought in to run the design team. And then there’s Albert Biermann. The auto executive joined Hyundai at the end of 2014 and will be tasked with making Genesis drive like a world-class sports sedan. Biermann’s previous job? He was the chief engineer at BMW’s vaunted “M” division. Biermann’s resume includes the development of the latest generation BMW M3 and M4.
The Genesis lineup is currently comprised of a pair of larger luxury cars based on current Hyundai models. Should a production version of the New York Concept make it to market, it would be the brand’s first truly new car.
The Genesis New York Concept likely foreshadows the company's upcoming entrant into the compact luxury segment.
Squarely in its crosshairs is the BMW 3-Series. The Bimmer has pretty much been the gold standard for the segment for the past 30 years.
The front end design of the New York Concept is dominated by a large hexagonal grille that's becoming a signature feature on the brand's vehicles. In additional, the front fascia features dramatic air intakes with copper-coloured accents and narrow headlights to give the car an added dose of aggression.
The side profile of the Genesis concept is defined by a long hood and a sloping coupe roof line. The side gills right behind the front wheel are a particularly eye-catching feature.
The heavily curved rear-end gives the car a fastback look that's more common on classic sports cars.
It's highlighted by a massive, curved, 21-inch, 4K display. There's also a 3D gesture control sensor that allows occupants to remotely move content from one area of the screen to another.
Under the hood is a 242-horsepower, 2.0-litre hybrid drive system coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
At this point, the New York Concept is just that -- a concept. However, the overall look of the car seems to be pretty transferable to production. With Genesis hinting at a whole slew of new models in the pipeline, it's likely we'll see some version of this gorgeous concept car in the near future.
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