At the turn of the decade, rumours were circulating of a major re-branding offensive at Hyundai. Bosses at the Korean manufacturer, keen to play down its low cost, no frills reputation, had toyed with the idea of creating a breakaway premium brand in the same vein as Lexus came into being under the Toyota umbrella back in the 80s. The new luxury marque, so the story goes, would be rolled out in North America and gobble up Hyundai’s flagship luxury saloon pairing, the Genesis and the Equus.
Ultimately, the planned expansion never got off the drawing board, hamstrung by restrictive costs and delays. However, although the flower never flourished, the seed was firmly planted and the idea of shifting Hyundai’s image upmarket never really went away. Now, ahead of the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, we have the clearest indication yet of Hyundai’s luxury aspirations as the Korean manufacturer unveiled its new Vision G coupe concept in Los Angeles.
Described by Hyundai chiefs as the inspiration for its family of future premium products, the Vision G concept ushers in a dash of luxury, performance and style that would certainly point to a clear upmarket shift.
Outwardly, the concept exhibits the classic hallmarks of modern-day luxury saloons with its long sweeping bonnet, high-beltline and low-slung profile. The yawning front grille is a nod not only to Far Eastern premium models from Lexus but also rings more than a few bells to the tune of Aston Martin, even down to highly familiar winged badge it wears on its nose. From the rear, the Vision G coupe takes on a different demeanour with shades of a more compact 3-door version of Audi’s handsome A7 Sportback.
Although the focus on the premium echelons of the market is obvious, Hyundai are keen to emphasize the purposefully understated nature of the coupe concept. Elegant lines and finishes inside and out belie no glaring examples of ultra-luxuriousness, with the possible exception of the automatic ‘valet doors’ which open as the driver approaches the car.
Those stateside will be familiar with the 420bhp 5.0-liter V8 that sits under the bonnet of the Vision G concept as it also powers Hyundai’s North American-sold Genesis and Equus luxury saloons. On this side of the Atlantic, the 3.8 litre V6 is currently the most powerful option available on the European spec Genesis. Various technical enhancements such as the addition of a low-torque exhaust manifold, increased compression ratio and upgraded multiple-injection mapping combine to unlock more low-down torque with 383 lb/ft on tap at 5,000 rpm.
Aston Martin it certainly is not, however much that uncanny front grille tries to mess with your mind. Nevertheless, as a glimpse into Hyundai’s future upmarket ambitions, the Vision G concept provides us with a very interesting snapshot indeed. It will certainly be in highly exalted company when it heads off to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday 16 August.