The Instant Icon of 2022: The Hyundai N 74 Vision

The Instant Icon of 2022: The Hyundai N 74 Vision

The car show is dead. It was already a bunch of wandering, drunken and depressed people before the pandemic, but the lockout was also an admittedly voluntary but necessary cost-cutting exercise for automakers.

Doesn’t spending millions for a fancy booth with smiling hosts and rotating systems to showcase your latest designs make any difference in terms of sales? Or how many hits does your website get?

The answer seems to be no, and the machines that hosted the auto shows are being shut down one by one. Except for the Geneva Salon. It is now held in Qatar. The only thing sadder than that ad is the fact that it’s not a joke.

You would expect that the eyelids of a concept ‘concept car’ would also be gently closed. But just the fact that a design study in one issue no longer has a rotating podium to feel at home, does not mean that it can no longer attract attention.

And this year, no car has done that more effectively than the impressive Hyundai N Vision 74. While BMW continues its sabotage of “Get me, or I’ll invent something else” design confusion, Hyundai’s crayon division is going crazy.

Instant Icon Designer of the Year 2022

The man in charge there is SangYup Lee, the Seoul-born former head of design for Bentley and GM, who is responsible for the Ioniq 5 hatchback, the aerodynamic marvel called the Ioniq 6, the Tucson SUV – say any good-looking Hyundai since 2016. .

Hyundai N Vision 74 designer SangYup Lee

He walks me through the highlights of the 74. We are at the Bilster Berg racetrack, in the green hills of northwest Germany. It’s a disturbing personal cycle built on the old foundation of Cold War Britain. The N Vision 74 is different from most other auto show stars, if only because it’s not a statue.

He runs – and fast too. But before I start driving this precious loner around the mini-Nürburgring, SangYup explains what led to his magnificent creation. “It’s an amazing journey that Hyundai embarked on 50 years ago now,” he says, softly speaking his carefully chosen words.

Vision Inspiration N 74

“Most big companies have a history of about 100 years, but Hyundai has been around for half that time. And yet a great history has already been made in this company.’ The history that the N Vision 74 refers to is a concept car called the Pony Coupé, an angular two-door study created for the Turin Motor Show in 1974.

Hyundai N Vision 74 driving on the track diagonally forward

The Koreans enlisted the help of Giorgetto Giugiaro to turn the classic Pony sedan into a car that would also put Hyundai on the map from a design standpoint. “Giugiaro convinced Hyundai executives that if you’re going to the auto show, you need a stylish coupe,” says SangYup.

“At that time, Korea had very poor infrastructure in terms of streets and highways, but the founder of the concern always wanted to build a sports car. So there is a good story there already. They also tried to take the Pony into production, but that dream did not come true. But now we have the design and technology to make this car.’

Why does this Hyundai concept car work so well?

The clever thing about the Hyundai N Vision 74 is in the mix: both referencing a ‘what could have been’ moment in its own history, and putting into practice ideas about the future. high performance run. It’s what engineers call a “rolling lab.”

SangYup mentions the word “enthusiasm” repeatedly as he walks around the car, pointing out details like the subtle badge (“We don’t have to shout”) and the pixelated LED lights (“Hyundai signature – many major brands are designing according to the principle of those dolls Russian matryoshka dolls, not us.

Hyundai N Vision 74 steering wheel

I admit that I had never heard of the Pony Coupé until N Vision 74, but there are also many references to other classics from the late twentieth century in the original. SangYup smiles and shows drawings on his phone from 2016, showing how far this idea has matured.

Hyundai almost made movie history

Not many people have heard of the Pony Coupé, but Giugiaro’s designs are known all over the world: DeLorean, BMW M1, Lotus Esprit – he is a master of design. Generation Z may not know that history, but see this as the ultimate cyberpunk design. I love that aspect – it’s modern and cyberpunk strategy.”

Hyundai N Vision 74 brake light

The reference to the DeLorean is very important, because in an alternate, parallel world, it would not be the cursed American-Irish thing with gull-doors, but the first Hyundai sports car to star in one of the most successful film series. of the 1990s. 80.

Giugiaro himself admits that Pony had a great influence on DeLorean – when Pony did not come, many of his lines went to the future star of the film. Without the Pony there would be no DeLorean, if at all Back to the Future.’ Principal Scott

“The sports car will never die”

But this is stress is not a case of nostalgia, despite the slats on the rear window, the birdwheels with a semi-matte color reminiscent of stainless steel. SangYup seems to get a little excited when I use the word ‘retro’, however carelessly, when referring to his winged brain child.

Indeed, it is a matter of national pride, a clear proof that Korea has now come full circle from ‘beginner car manufacturer’ to ‘design leader’. “I saw tears in people’s eyes when we launched this car in Korea.

This is their culture. Let’s be honest: 10, 15 years ago, Hyundai was a car you bought only with your head, not with your heart,” he admits. “We’re not just trying to be a car brand, we want to build a fan base.”

Hyundai N Vision 74 rear diagonal from above

Something keeps bothering me. Was he under any pressure not to show Hyundai’s hydrogen/hybrid technology with a coupé, but with an SUV? Sports cars are not very popular these days. Everyone just seems to want to build bigger and higher, not lower.

“The reason is that a car is still an emotional product,” SangYup confidently replies. “It’s the second most expensive thing we’ve ever bought, and we wanted to add that emotional value. Sports cars will never go out of style, because the coupe conveys emotion more effectively than any car model. The sports car will never die.’

N Vision 74 didn’t need a theater to shine. His digital revelations have left many people trembling at keyboards around the world and demonstrate the humble, touching faith that Koreans have to a large extent today as Europe’s insecure old guard struggles to survive. It’s a showstopper in more ways than one.

He is alive! And we ran it!

I get three laps into the 74, with a non-English-speaking engineer next to me closely watching all the pressure and temperature readings of the production-ready fuel cell behind my right ear. To be able to drive it, the car has a number of features present.

The fuel cell comes from the Nexo crossover, the platform is from the Kia Stinger and the engines are related to those of the ETCR racing car. Engines delivering 340 horsepower to each rear wheel. The hydrogen tanks are made of lead-free Kevlar and weigh 4.2 kg each, but thanks to the 62-kWh battery (this is still a plug-in hybrid, after all), the car weighs 2.4 tons overall.

Hyundai N Vision 74 driving on the track diagonally forward

You’ll never guess. It accelerates like crazy, the right pedal response is, of course, as venomous as it is instantaneous, and thanks to the wheel that is a sports saloon, drifting is as easy as it is friendly. The steering is very detailed and even the regenerative braking is as precise as it gets.

It feels like a racecar – big, yes, and dominated by high-pitched fans instead of exhaust crackle noise. But if there is zero way to leave bigger tire marks on the track, I haven’t found it yet.

All this, developed in just five months? The bar for concept cars hasn’t just been raised, it’s been rocketed into orbit.