Genesis Design Chief Tells Us How He’ll Define the New Luxury Brand’s Style ""

By | November 24, 2017

Genesis GV80 concept

It has been just about two years since Genesis became a brand instead of only a Hyundai model name, marking the Korean company’s full arrival in the luxury class. But where the G80 and G90 were still conceived in the Hyundai Genesis era, it is up to the next generation of models to assert the newfound position. A central part of that is the new design language currently being developed under Genesis chief designer Luc Donckerwolke. After spending most of his career within the Volkswagen Group and having served as chief designer of Lamborghini, Seat, and Bentley, Donckerwolke is aggressively putting together a global team.

“Genesis was born out of Hyundai, and now we are splitting the brands, creating teams, but at the same time keeping synergies,” said Donckerwolke. “We are synchronizing the brands, and that is the only way to make sure we don’t overlap.”

Genesis G70

The Genesis and Hyundai design teams have already been separated in Korea and in the United States. “But we are not doubling all the functions, because then it would be impossible to have a constant flow of information,” he clarified. Donckerwolke has created the Global Genesis Advanced Studio in Europe, led by Sasha Selipanov. It is possible that Genesis will create its own design studios in other markets, including China, Japan, and India, he said.

A New Style

In September, Genesis launched the G70 sports sedan. It was designed before Donckerwolke joined the brand, but he said he likes it: “It is a really good, sexy car with ideal proportions.”

A better preview of where Donckerwolke wants to take Genesis was provided by the SUV concept GV80, unveiled at the New York auto show in April. Aiming to convey “athletic elegance,” the GV80 features pronounced rear-wheel-drive proportions, with a short front overhang, a long rear overhang, a cabin pushed back to increase the distance between the front axle and the windshield, and muscular curves concentrated above the large wheel arches. There is a horizontal line arched along the entire side, slightly dropping in the rear as on a classic luxury car; Donckerwolke described it as “la parabólica” and “slightly anti-wedge.” And he explained, “We optimized the proportions so we need to apply less makeup.”

Genesis GV80 concept

Many unusual details on the GV80 provide explicit leads to future Genesis styling. Perhaps the most prominent is the design of the head- and taillights: “These quad lights will become our signature,” said Donckerwolke. And the signature grille will not have a hexagonal shape but assume the look of a crest, as seen on the concept.

“You will see an evolution,” said Donckerwolke. “There will be no Russian-doll syndrome. We will not have such a strong similarity between generations, so that people will actually know what is the new car. But the theme will be the same.” We take the “Russian doll” comment as a swipe at the German premium carmakers.

Next Models Retain Rear-Wheel Drive

The lineup, which currently consists of the aging G80 and its G90 derivative as well as the new G70, will be aggressively expanded. We expect three new models by 2020, all of them with rear-wheel drive; beyond that, we could see electrics. “A couple of years ago, I would have said that Genesis will be exclusively a rear-wheel-drive brand, but electrification changes the situation,” said Donckerwolke. Meanwhile, he said, he is happy expanding the portfolio of conventionally powered cars: “We are enjoying the privilege of working on a platform that everyone would like to have.”

By the time the next three models arrive, Donckerwolke could have additional responsibilities: His friend and mentor Peter Schreyer, who oversees the design of the entire family of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands, turns 65 next year.

Genesis-Design-Direction-Reel

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