Hyundai concept takes new design direction

GENEVA — Hyundai is looking partly to its past in embracing a new design direction previewed by the Le Fil Rouge concept.

Hyundai calls the Le Fil Rouge a reinterpretation of the design language that originated in 1974 with the brand's first concept, the HDC-1.

The brand is phasing out what it has called its fluidic sculpture design era, dating back to 2007, in favor of what it is calling sensuous sportiness on future sedans and crossovers.

"[The design] is so seamless it looks like the vehicle was drawn with one single line," Sang Yup Lee, Hyundai's head of styling, said while introducing the concept at the Geneva auto show last week.

"Le fil rouge" is a French phrase that translates in English to "the common thread."

"Our goal is to build a beloved brand by creating vehicles with heightened emotional value to reshape the landscape of car design," Lee said. "This is the foundation of our concept."

The concept's styling features a wide, layered hood, a mix of concave and convex forms, layered crisp lines and a three-dimensional cascading grille with parametric jewels inside.

The new vision for Smart speaks to how much new demands of electrification and autonomy are revamping corporate strategies, even for a longtime technology leader such as Daimler. 

The interior features what Hyundai calls "revitalized wood and high-tech fabrics," and "a panoramic floating display coupled with haptic technology."

Luc Donckerwolke, head of Hyundai's Design Center, says the latest styling seeks to harmonize four basic elements: proportion, architecture, styling and technology.

Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, vice president of marketing and product at Hyundai Europe, says some notable features on the Le Fil Rouge, such as the cascading grille, will soon appear in the brand's production vehicles.

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