Following a decade or so during which it has successfully shown the world that it can build cars that are both attractively designed and attractively priced, Hyundai announced that it is embarking on a new design path. The pronouncement was made at the 2018 Geneva auto show, where the company provided a glimpse of what lies ahead for Hyundai-branded automobiles in the form of the winsome Le Fil Rouge concept, a.k.a. the HDC-1.
While le fil rouge literally means “red wire” in French, Hyundai interprets the phrase as “common thread” and says that the design is “a reflection of Hyundai’s belief that the brand’s past, present, and future designs are all connected.” Fittingly, inspiration for this Le Fil Rouge concept derives from the first ever Hyundai concept car, introduced way back in 1974 and called—you guessed it—HDC-1.
This effectively marks the end of Hyundai’s well-received Fluidic Sculpture form vocabulary in favor of a new design mantra dubbed Sensuous Sportiness, which Hyundai defines as four fundamental elements in vehicle design—proportion, architecture, styling, and technology—coexisting in harmony. Hyundai says Sensuous Sportiness will be the guiding principle of all Hyundai vehicles moving forward, from sedans to SUV designs, with the primary goal of making its cars more beautiful and emotionally appealing.
Breaking down those elements a bit, Hyundai stated that in terms of proportion, its Sensuous Sportiness will utilize the “golden ratio” that appears so often in art, nature, and design (mathematically speaking, it’s 1.618:1, if you must know). Hyundai further called attention to the car’s long wheelbase, minimal overhangs, big wheels, “respectful” dash-to-axle ratio, and teardrop roofline. The pillars and roof flow together for a simple silhouette in what Hyundai characterizes as “light architecture,” whereas a “tube architecture” approach attempts “to create the same emotional value inside and outside the vehicle, while also allowing for a lightweight profile.” The front passenger seat prioritizes comfort with extra legroom, while the driver’s seat uses optimized ergonomics “to further add to the fun of driving.” That last part is rather refreshing to hear as the auto industry faces the dawn of the autonomous age.
Watch for future Hyundais to adopt some form of the Le Fil Rouge’s wide, layered hood and its mix of concave and convex forms, layered crisp lines, and three-dimensional “cascading grille,” albeit without the parametric jewels inside. Finally, Hyundai touts its Le Fil Rouge concept’s “seamless integration of function,” which involves high-tech fabrics, revitalized wood, an aircraft-inspired ventilation system, and a panoramic floating display with haptic technology for the driver.
Hyundai claims that design is the number-one reason why customers choose the Hyundai brand. Although it’s doubtful that we’ll see all of Le Fil Rouge’s future-tastic wares make their way directly into production models, Hyundai is clearly taking design more seriously than ever.