Interview

Hyundai Wants Sexier Designs Than Alfa Romeo In Less Than A Decade

Sounds like the right designer was hired to make that happen.

There’s no question Hyundai design has come a very long way since its first cars arrived on American shores in 1986. Back then, the Hyundai Excel was nothing more than a basic econobox with an even more basic design. Today’s Hyundais are anything but basic, and their styling is about to get even more emotional. Speaking to Automotive News, Hyundai vice president of design SangYup Lee is determined to see future Hyundai design just as “sexy” as Alfa Romeo. That’s a bold claim, but Lee has the past goods to prove he’s up to the task.

His previous work includes the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro concept, C6 Corvette Stingray concept and, Bentley’s EXP 10 Speed 6 concept (which we’d still very much love to see reach production). One of his latest projects at Hyundai was the Le Fil Rouge concept that premiered at Geneva last March. This concept serves as an indicator of style for the next generation of Hyundai road cars, according to Lee.

“The car is an emotional product. We want to maximize emotional value to it,” Lee explained. “The Alfa Romeo and Maserati, those are really sexy cars, even the Germans got a lot of influence from the (Italian) cars. That emotional, sensuous beauty, you don't find that in the volume brands. For Hyundai to be sexier than Alfa Romeo, this is the mission we want to achieve.”

Lee goes on to discuss how the luxury Genesis brand is literally a Bible with blank pages to fill because it lacks a design heritage. This is also a blessing because it gives Lee and his teams the freedom to start from scratch. They can create their own brand legacy. As for Hyundai, Lee reiterated the importance of it continuing with its own distinctive look while still serving as a volume brand.

“The value is a given already. I'd like to see people (say), ‘Hyundai has some sexy cars. Sexier than Alfa Romeo.’ That is the message I'd like to give to the world.”

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