Previewing the kind of look, feel and character we can expect to find in its future upline rear-drive models, the Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis made its global debut in Detroit. Nomenclature notwithstanding, John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America, indicated this elegantly styled and technology-rich one-off "gives a hint of the design direction we'll be taking, and an indication of the focus we're placing on driving dynamics and technology" for the upcoming Genesis as well as the firm's flagship Equus. Those two cars have been a major success story to date for the automaker, and Hyundai claims the pair now account for 9.0 percent of overall retail sales in the entire luxury market.

Latest in the ongoing series of innovative dream machines to emerge from the Hyundai California Design studio, the HCD-14 Genesis Concept reflects the newest interpretation of the automaker's Fluidic Precision visual language. Finished in a "liquid metal" look, it uses crisp but expressive lines that Christopher Chapman, chief designer, Hyundai Design North America, says were meant to impart "a premium-sport 4-door coupe road presence."

Complementing the HCD-14 Genesis Concept's sleek profile are bold fascia treatments and bolder lighting elements, short front/rear overhangs and a sharply tapered greenhouse. Its distinctive wheel design sets off the primary light-alloy rim material with a unique carbon fiber insert that adds more subtle drama to the look. Closer inspection also reveals the HCD-14's aft doors are rear hinged -- a feature which combined with the absence of a conventional B-pillar allows easier access to its spacious and decidedly forward-themed, driver-focused cabin.

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Inside, the HCD-14 Genesis Concept melds the kind of leather and real wood trim bits luxury vehicle buyers demand with a far more avant-garde character. It starts with full-length "double-cresting" center console that runs from the dash to the rear seats and features an asymmetric design that separates driver-related from passenger-related functions and incorporates nifty touches like an iPad storage station.

To help maximize the driver's ability to concentrate on the primary task at hand, the HCD-14 design team created an innovative set of controls based around state-of-the-art eye-tracking capability and 3D hand-gesture recognition. Working in concert with the car's distraction-minimizing heads-up display, this intuitive interface uses the former to confirm what task the driver wishes to perform and then responds via input from either hand motion or thumb controls on the steering wheel. Capable of doing everything from selecting navigation, infotainment and audio functions to adjusting the HVAC systems and operating a connected smartphone, this proprietary package represents Hyundai's vision for its future MMI (Man Machine Interface) systems. It even incorporates an optical recognition feature that can identify when the driver slips behind the wheel and automatically begin the engine startup sequence.

Based on a platform structure that makes extensive and strategic use of high-strength steel to create an ultra-rigid foundation the HCD-14 Genesis Concept is powered  by the automaker's potent 5.0-liter Tau V8 mated to Hyundai's 8-speed, paddle-shifted automatic transmission. The driver-centric character that dominates the cabin is paralleled in the chassis design. It combines a sophisticated 5-element multilink front/rear suspension that limits unwanted toe and camber changes under hard cornering with an advanced driver-adjustable yaw control system, a highly efficient, highly communicative electric multi-mode power steering and sticky low-profile tires to ensure the HCD-14 Genesis Concept can fully exploit all of the Tau V8's formidable power and torque.

No word yet on exactly when -- or precisely how much of -- the advanced thinking presented in the HCD-14 Genesis Concept will make it into production. But Hyundai is clearly serving notice it intends to continue on a path that will make it even more of a serious player in the premium-sedan segment.


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