Ten years ago, if you'd said Hyundai would hold a nine percent market share in the premium large sedan segments, you'd probably have been laughed out of whatever wigwam you'd been smoking your peyote in.
Today, it's reality. At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show
, we get a look at the future of the brand's premium sedans through a new concept: the HCD-14 Genesis Concept.
The sleek, clean design of the Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept is a taste of what to expect from the brand's premium rear-drive sedans in the near future, according to John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
"HCD-14 Genesis gives a hint of the design direction we’ll be taking, and an indication of the focus we’re placing on driving dynamics and technology," he explained.
Krafcik's reference to technology is meant to point up the eye-tracking and interactive 3D gesture recognition. The systems work together to enable the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road more often--at least in theory--to reduce distractions and improve safety. A windshield head-up display (HUD) also sits just above the steering wheel, relaying information while keeping the driver's eyes up and on the road.
The fact that Hyundai is looking in this direction indicates it's serious about not just undercutting, but competing directly with the major luxury carmakers on equal footing--or even trying to top them. That's no mean feat with BMW, Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac all offering innovative new control and connectivity technologies in their latest generation of cars. But given Hyundai's impressive track record of improvement, we lean toward giving the brand the benefit of the doubt. For now, at least.
As for the HCD-14 Genesis Concept's design, it's obviously styled as a four-door coupe, and that's intended to forecast a greater focus on driving dynamics and driver-centric experience. If Hyundai's current luxury sedans are lacking in any one are, it's this one: actual handling and feel.
To address the driving dynamics issue, the HCD-14 Genesis starts with an "ultra-rigid" chassis using high-tensile steel in strategic locations, a multi-mode electronic power steering system, low-profile tires, yaw-control electronics with driver-selectable modes, and, of course, Hyundai's Tau V8 engine.
The direct-injection, 5.0-liter Tau V8 doesn't evolve for the HCD-14, but paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, the Tau V8 has always felt more eager than the Genesis or Equus chassis. Unlocking its potential with a car designed with dynamics in mind should help it to better express its capabilities.
On the probably-not-production-intent front, the HCD-14 Genesis also features rear-hinged rear doors--suicide doors. With both front and rear doors open, there's no obstacle to entry, improving access for the generally tight four-door coupe layout.
Stay tuned for more photos and video of the Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept live from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.