The first of two new SUVs due from Hyundai's upmarket Genesis brand by the end of the decade has been spotted in an early stage of development.
Engineers are running test mules, i.e. the new mechanicals hidden beneath the makeshift body of an existing model, in this case Hyundai's Santa Fe. Modifications made to the Santa Fe body indicate that the Genesis will be a longer and wider vehicle.
The SUV is the model previewed at the 2017 New York International Auto Show by the Genesis GV80 concept, and it's expected to carry the concept's name into production. The G represents the Genesis brand while the V is for the extra versatility of an SUV.
Genesis GV80 concept, 2017 New York auto show
The 80 positions the SUV alongside the mid-size G80 sedan in Genesis' lineup. This means it will be a mid-size offering targeting the BMW X5. It will reach showrooms in 2019, likely as a 2020 model, and trailing it by about a year will be a smaller GV70 SUV targeting the BMW X3.
Expect the GV80's final design to be muscular and imposing, at least if the GV80 concept's lines are anything to go by. The hints of Bentley in the handsome concept shouldn't come as a surprise as Genesis' design chief Luc Donckerwolke previously had the same role at Bentley.
It's not clear what platform Genesis plans for its SUVs. One possibility is a stretched version of the Santa Fe's platform, though we could also see Genesis use a modified version of the rear-wheel-drive platform found in its sedans. The latter would help to further differentiate Genesis' lineup from that of Hyundai. Genesis is already going to the trouble of launching a dedicated dealer network to separate itself from its parent, so bespoke platforms would also make sense.
2020 Genesis GV80 test mule spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
A document attached to a window of one of the test mules hints that a new 3.5-liter V-6 could be in development. The document also hints that the test mule is fitted with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. We also expect a plug-in hybrid option to form part of the powertrain equation at Genesis at some point.
Genesis has been caught out by the consumer shift to SUVs, having chosen to focus on sedans so far. But with SUVs currently outselling sedans, the GV80 can't come soon enough. Nevertheless, it won't have an easy time on the market as BMW and Mercedes-Benz will introduce redesigns of their rival X5 and GLE SUVs around the same time.
Stay tuned for updates as development continues.