Design

Hyundai Won't Allow The Audi-Esque Russian Doll Designs

Because who would ever style its cars to look so similar?

One of the biggest stars of Geneva last March was the Hyundai Le Fil Rouge concept, said to preview the next generation Sonata sedan, due in 2019. The Le Fil Rouge also introduces the South Korean automaker’s latest styling language, called ‘Sensuous Sportiness’. However, Hyundai is going to great lengths to avoid what’s often called the “Russian Doll” design syndrome. Audi is one of the diseases’ biggest victims. Look at the previous generation A4, A6 and A8 if you're in any doubt.

While Audi has begun a design shift away from this, Hyundai is being very careful to avoid falling into the same trap. Speaking to Autocar, Hyundai styling boss Sang-yup Lee made clear the company doesn’t “want ‘Russian doll’ styling. It just doesn’t work on a brand like Hyundai.” Then again, there is currently a distinctive Hyundai “look,” but not anywhere near the level of what Audi did and, in many cases, still does. Lee preferred to use a chess analogy to describe his design philosophy. “You have a king, queen, bishop, knight – they’re all different, but they become a team when they’re all together. This is our strategy. I call it a Hyundai look, not a family look.”

Hyundai is also keen to add more of an emotional value to its cars going forward, hence another reason for the Le Fil Rouge concept. “It makes people think about Hyundai,” Lee said. “We’re known for good, practical cars and value for money but we really want to add emotional value on top of that, as a quality booster. It’s important for our next step.” Interestingly, Hyundai examined Italian cars from the 1960s and 1970 for inspiration when creating the ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ theme. Along with the next Sonata, Hyundai is already busy working on its next concept which, according to Lee, “If (the le Fil Rouge) is the queen, next is the bishop.”

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