After years of rumors that Genesis would add an SUV to its lineup, Hyundai’s in-house luxury brand unveiled the GV80 concept at the New York Auto Show Wednesday.Genesis didn’t reveal key details of the concept, such as its dimensions and whether it would fit three rows, but prior intel suggests a Genesis SUV would be a little larger than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a little more expensive. However, the press release does establish three facts: opulence abounds, the high-rider previews the brand’s future design language, and a hydrogen fuel cell powers the GV80 – conceptually, at least.
The overall shape – dressed in a “bespoke Ice Granite finish” – seems a touch common, although we must note that numerous players already crowd the large luxury SUV field. To give the GV80 a unique identity, Luc Donckerwolke, head of Genesis design, tapped the arsenal of luxury and detailing he amassed during stints at Lamborghini and Bentley.
Genesis’ trademark crest grille gets filled with diamond mesh, and sits in a contoured channel that defines a spine running the length of the SUV. The quad headlights are nothing more than four swept-back slits. Along the sides, 23-inch wheels frame a deep vent carved into the bodywork, while the mesh pattern in the five-spoke alloys matches the trussed B- and C-pillars. In back, thin, fiber-optic taillights emphasize width and stylized vents in the lower fascia cool the powertrain.
The interior puts on the real show. An analog speedometer jazzes up the digital dash cluster, the driver’s display flowing into a curved, 22-inch OLED screen set atop the “bridge” instrument panel. The display’s two zones serve driver and passenger separately. The driver can use the glass touchpad multi-function controller and knurled metal wheel to toggle through functions, and the passenger taps the metal pinstripes set into the ash wood console and center tunnel. That tunnel runs the length of the cabin, creating four distinct seating areas. Rear-seat passengers can also touch the metal stripes to control seatback screens.
Many cows died to create the interior ambiance, with smooth and quilted-diamond-stitched leather everywhere. Suede, polished aluminum, and slate ash wood provide contrasts from the dash to the cargo area.
The GV80’s “advanced plug-in hydrogen fuel cell” specs remain a mystery, but it might not be an empty tease. Two years ago, Hyundai showed off the Intrado compact CUV concept at the Geneva Motor Show. That compact crossover study boasted a theoretical range of more than 375 miles, powered by a 36-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack, and Hyundai said the Intrado was “far more than a styling exercise.” If and when a production Genesis SUV happens, though, we expect a more conventional 5.0-liter V8 at the front – for the launch, at least.
Hyundai PR recently told Reuters “We plan to respond to the fast-changing market centered around SUVs by beefing up our SUV line-up,” and an unnamed insider said the automaker is “considering developing larger SUVs based on its Genesis luxury sedan.” However, the report said Hyundai execs are concerned about oil prices, production capacity, and the company’s mediocre track record with its large SUVs. Nevertheless, when it comes to a Genesis SUV, odds are we’re talking about when it will arrive, not if.