Concept Cars

These nine concept cars shaped Hyundai's modern lineup

Hyundai, like every other automaker, uses concept cars to showcase what is next for their brand.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Concept cars give their audience a peek at what is to come from a brand, whether it's design, tech, materials, or powertrain innovation. They often push the boundaries between what is seen as allowable for today and what may be possible in the future. A trained eye can look past the glitz and glam to see what the true story of a concept car is.

Hyundai has presented a number of concepts in the last decade, all of which have shaped the automaker's current lineup. Scroll down to see them all.

2012 – i-oniq

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Ioniq just received a major refresh for the 2020 model year, three years after it debuted. But, it was at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show where the car got its first public nod.

There, Hyundai debuted the i-oniq concept, an electric sport hatchback with a range-extending petrol engine. Designed and developed at Hyundai's European R&D Center, it was the first car to feature the company's signature Cascading Grille.

The concept featured dynamic proportions that gave the car a functional shape rather than the looks of the Toyota Prius, which looks to be shaped by a wind tunnel rather than a vehicle sculptor.

2014 – Intrado

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Mobility became a catchy word in the mid-2010s with Ford leading the way. The Intrado Concept, unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, showed that Hyundai was headed toward mobility solutions as well. In their words, the concept, "demonstrated Hyundai's belief that advanced vehicle technologies and intelligent design can combine to engage more effectively with the driver and passengers."

It was this concept that shaped the Hyundai Kona, which has gone on to win accolades and awards worldwide for its numerous features and right-sized design.

2015 - Santa Cruz

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

It's coming! The Hyundai Santa Cruz was the belle of the ball in 2015, introducing a truck-like figure to the Hyundai concept lineup and giving brand enthusiasts something to dream about. Now, five years one, the model is nearly ready for production.

Spy photography of the Santa Cruz, which Hyundai says is a utility vehicle rather than a truck, indicates that it takes design nods from both the Santa Cruz and the "Sensuous Sportiness" aesthetic with triangle-shaped designs on the doors and a nose heavily influenced by the Palisade.

2016 – RN30

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

With the RN30, a nod was given to the notion that Hyundai's future was about to get going - quickly. Revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the concept was race-inspired and based on the i30 (in the U.S. it's the Elantra GT), a collaborative effort between Hyundai Motorsport, Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center, and Hyundai Motor's Performance Development and High Performance Vehicle Division.

The model was seen as a precursor to the i30 N and the i30 N TCR but also signaled that models like the Veloster N, Sonata N Line, and Elantra N Line, were possible.

2017 – FE Fuel Cell

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In the past 18 months, Hyundai has greatly stepped up its messaging regarding the benefits of fuel cell technology, but the company's efforts to show a hydrogen-powered future extend back even further. The FE Fuel Cell Concept was shown at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, reconfirming Hyundai's commitment to the powertrain technology.

The Hyundai Nexo was unveiled a few months after the concept and now Hyundai is saying that future hydrogen-powered models are on their way, including a Genesis SUV.

2018 – Le Fil Rouge

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

At the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Hyundai gave a nod to its past while hinting at the future with the Le Fil Rouge concept. The model's design was influenced by the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept and showed off a new era of design, which we know today as "Sensuous Sportiness".

This design aesthetic was first fully realized on the redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata and has recently been translated to the 2021 Hyundai Elantra.

2019 – "45"

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Like Le Fil Rouge, the 45 concept was a modern interpretation of the Hyundai Pony Concept, only this time it was focused on powertrain technology.

Hyundai says that the car's diamond silhouette foreshadows the design direction of future electric vehicles the company will produce while holding fast to the "Sensuous Sportiness" design identity.

2019 – Vision T

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In late 2019, Hyundai committed to adding 13 alternatively fueled products by 2022 including six sedans and seven SUVs. The Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept gave a hint at things to come, possibly in the next-generation Tucson.

2020 – Prophecy

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Gone are the harsh edges of the 45, replaced in this EV concept by the bulbous bodied Prophecy concept. The model missed its scheduled debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show due to the coronavirus outbreak but Hyundai went ahead and revealed images of it for the world to see.

Hyundai says that the car's design gives a nod to the large models of the 1920s and 30s but brings forward digital technology of today.

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The Hyundai Santa Cruz will debut next week but ahead of that, the design department is giving a closer look at the truck in a new video.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

We'll see the Hyundai Santa Cruz in full for the first time when it debuts on April 15 but ahead of time, Hyundai is setting the stage for expectations with the model. To help with that, the company released a video today featuring the truck's design manager discussing the inspiration for the utility vehicle.

The quick one-minute video is hosted by Brad Arnold, design manager at Hyundai North America. The Southern California native is the leader of the team that created the Santa Cruz, a project that began years ago. He's joined in the video by Senon Franco, the lead designer at Hyundai North America.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America
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As Arnold explains in the video, the design of the Santa Cruz started with a simple premise: "this is not a typical truck". Based on how Arnold describes the capabilities of the truck, that sounds true. It is meant to "thrive in dense urban environments and the open outdoors". One could argue that no full-size truck on the market today does that. Neither do most of the midsize models, though their sizing is better for that landscape.

Arnold says that the Santa Cruz is "small in size", a call that serves to remind viewers that the Santa Cruz isn't a big truck. It's more similar in size to the forthcoming Ford Maverick, a small truck that slots below the Ranger in Ford's lineup.

However, the company isn't even calling it a truck. The new model is being referred to as the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. This sounds a lot like how Kia is referring to the new generation of its Carnival minivan as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

Arnold says that the design is meant to make the Santa Cruz not look like a truck. Rather, it's supposed to look "like a Santa Cruz". Part of that includes the front end, which looks like a carryover from the fascia of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

Among the other secrets Hyundai is giving away ahead of the product's reveal is that there will be more than one "efficient" powertrain, a flexible bed, "cutting-edge" connectivity, and all-wheel drive.

Watch the video for yourself below.

Design Inspiration | 2022 Santa Cruz | Hyundai www.youtube.com

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2022 Hyundai Kona N revealed, but the automaker isn't telling all just yet.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai is giving its highest performance Kona the same transmission that you'll find in the Veloster N. For enthusiasts, that's a very good thing.

The compact crossover is more and more being seen as the American successor to the hot hatch. The Mazda CX-30 Turbo recently piqued enthusiasm among true drivers who can't afford supercars and need something more practical to hoon around in.

Now, the Kona N is poised to deliver similar driving dynamics and performance. Hyundai has slowly been leaking out details about the 2022 Hyundai Kona N over the last year and the revelation that it will have an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission, known as N DCT, is just the latest tidbit to come to light.

2022 Hyundai Kona Hyundai has upgraded its wet DCT mechanics in recent years making it hard-wearing.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

2022 Hyundai Kona

The Kona N DCT is based on a modified version of its in-house-developed 8DCT. It's had enhancements in recent years that have made it more durable and ready to handle the demands of high-performance vehicles. The N DCT will be standard on the Kona.

Hyundai will pair the N DCT with a 276-horsepower, 2.0-liter direct-injected engine that has been tuned especially for the model. The transmission control unit is calibrated for N enthusiasts.

The wet-type DCT is structurally similar to a manual transmission but, instead of the typical dry-type gearbox, it uses two electric oil pumps that are designed to reduce friction between the moving parts, cooling the clutch, and allowing greater torque.

Other features of the N DCT include N Grin Shift, N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift functionality. These settings have dedicated shift-logic management. N Power Shift engages when the car accelerates with more than 90-percent throttle. N Grin Shift maximizes engine and DCT performance for 20 seconds, providing a boost. N Track Sense optimized adaptive shift for the race track.

The N Grin Control System has five different drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, N and Custom. Unlike with a traditional automatic transmission vehicle, in Hyundai vehicles with N DCT, the driver can choose to turn off the creep function. When the creep function is turned "off" and the car is in gear D, the car does not automatically roll forward when the brake pedal is released.

Drivers can switch to manual mode for more control over shift points, utilizing the paddle shifters or gear knob. In manual mode, the downshift memory logic will avoid downshifting during high RPM operation. Memory functionality remembers the command and executes only when the acceptable RPM is reached.

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