HCD-14 Genesis concept sparked controversy at Detroit

(Photo: TONY DING, AP)

The Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis concept received mixed reviews from industry critics at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Concepts are supposed to spark a little controversy and generally shake up an all-too-complacent world. In that respect, Hyundai clearly succeeded.

The South Korean automaker created a luxury sedan concept, originally thought to become its next Genesis, its successful luxury model. However,  Hyundai executives having batted down that talk, so where this prototype fits is unknown.

Hyundai doesn’t want to gamble with success of the Genesis sedan, and its larger Equus counterpart. They now hold a 9% market share of their luxury market segments, almost double Hyundai’s overall market share.

As for the HCD, the controversial part involves its front end. To some, it’s stately and imaginative. To others, it looks like Hyundai performed a frontal barrier crash test on the way into the Detroit show.

Those who loved it really loved it.Autoweek named it best concept car at the auto show.

“You look at this elegant sedan and say, ‘That’s a Hyundai?’ This is a gorgeous concept car,” said Davey Johnson, senior online editor.

Others weren’t as keen on that front end.

“It’s different, we’ll give it that,” wrote Mike Floyd of Motor Trend in an otherwise positive review. “The upright, vaguely Audi-like brushed-metal four-strake grille gets up in your face, and the horizontal, glass-block look headlights and ovid, light-pipe lower lamps shine a blue-light hue.”

“Though the vertical front end and giant grille certainly look dramatic, it’s unlikely to survive its first evaluation in a wind tunnel,” pens Joe Wiesenfelder of Cars.com.

Most of the attention has focused on the oversize grille. It’s certainly not the first, whether it was the Edsel of the 1950s or the Audis of the modern age. Some love it. Others aren’t sure.

Hyundai is unapologetic. “Its sleek and lightweight silhouette does not punish the wind, but uses fluidic precision with dramatic surfacing that conveys natural restraint,” says Christopher Chapman, chief designer, Hyundai Design North America.