I have to say, Detroit 2013 is emerging as the most interesting Detroit show in years. It’s been a yawnfest since around 2008, mostly because America’s domestic car companies were up the creek with nary a paddle in sight. This year, there’s been interesting stuff with every third or fourth NAIAS post I read on the internet, which is a reasonable ratio.
Hyundai have just launched a concept that will form the basis of their design language for the next few
months model years. It’s called the HCD-14 and it’s the bedrock upon which future Hyundai premium vehicles will be styled.
The press release features the usual PR guff, including a reference to liquid metal styling that’s kind-of believable from this 45 degree frontal shot, but if you see this vehicle side-on it looks more like Han-Solo-carbonite than the T-1000 from Terminator II.
What caught my eye, however, is the badge on the front. I’ve always thought that Hyundai’s standard leaning-H-in-a-circle looked quite poverty stricken so this was a pleasant upgrade at first glance. At second glance, it seemed like another typical Hyundai styling stunt – it’s very reminiscent of the Bentley flying-B from a distance, don’t you think?
Of course, Hyundai have skipped across the pond of automotive progress using a bunch of styling and design cues from different brands as lilypads along the way. Their stock in trade from the early 1990s right up until today has been to take identifiable styling cues from solid, established companies and reference them with as much subtlety as a sledgehammer.
Does this look like a pair of Mercedes to you? Maybe one model generation after the other?
It’s interesting to see that Hyundai’s willingness to copy cues from others continues and has extended right down to the smaller details. Take a closer look at the badge on this HCD-14 concept and Bentley isn’t the only company it might remind you of.
Aston Martin, anyone?
Want more? Here’s that first image of the HCD-14 once again. Remove the Bentley/Aston badge and put a four ringed badge in it’s place.
Am I convincing you yet?—
This leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Hyundai have done a remarkable job in the last decade. They’ve transformed themselves from being makers of cheap cars into being makers of genuine value propositions with a reputation for reasonable comfort and quality. In essence, they’ve become the new Toyota (albeit without replacing the actual Toyota).
The 2+1 door Veloster Turbo was one of the most interesting cars of 2012 for me. It’s the first time a car with a Hyundai badge has crossed my radar in a totally positive way.
I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but the HCD-14 is a stark reminder that Hyundai still don’t have an identity of their own – something they genuinely need if they’re to take the next step and perhaps stay ahead of the Chinese companies that will be the new Hyundai in around half the time it took for Hyundai to become the new Toyota.