The '70s are back for a brave new future.
When we think of retro design, we typically think of the the 1950s and '60s. But "retro" is a relative term, and its scope moves forward together with time. Just look at the new Hyundai 45 concept, revealed here at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.
While foreshadowing future Hyundai designs to come, the 45 concept takes its cues from a 45-year-old model – namely the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe concept – in similar retro-futuristic fashion as the Honda E, and a very different way from the likes of the Fiat 500 or Mini Cooper.
The conceptual hatchback (or crossover) is all straight lines with hardly a curved surface to be found and a decidedly minimalistic approach. Though Hyundai hasn't said much about the powertrain, it's designed to be all-electric – and that means no grilles or vents required to keep a fossil-fuel-burning combustion engine fed with air.
The profile is dominated by diamond-like sharp angles with a forward-canted C-pillar, individual light diodes are embedded deep behind stylistic black strips in the nose and tail, the wheels are made up of intricate geometric latticework, and the whole thing is coated in a matte metallic silver with textured graphite trim.
Instead of conventional doors, the 45's slide fore and aft (like the rear doors on a minivan) to gain access to a cabin as minimalistic as the outside, with textile-upholstered swivel lounge seats, open-pore wood trim, and a wide screen extending from behind the wheel to the middle of the dashboard. The adaptive and airy cabin has autonomous operation in mind, with interior space optimized by placing the batteries low in the floor and away from the cockpit.
The concept also makes innovative use of lighting, and features a hidden camera system that works on a turntable (or like a Gatling gun) to rotate into position and keep the lenses clean.
More of a design study than a production-preview concept, we're not expecting the Hyundai 45 to show up at dealers any time soon. But the "Sensuous Sportiness" design language will likely influence the styling of the next generation of road-going Hyundais that will. And if they, and their competitors across the industry as a whole, look half as cool as this concept does, we can look forward to some pretty cool designs to hit the road in the coming years and redefine what we've come to think of as "retro."