Seventh Son

It’s not easy being green – or purple for that matter.  

Credit: Autocar

Purple patches: how the car industry seeks them out, wishing them unending. Barrels of confidence too, a strangely metaphorical catalyst. Combine the two and akin to many chemical reactions, effect closely follows cause. The Koreans have lately been planting purple by the acre, nurturing their allotments with generous amounts of confidence, the result being that the Seventh son has germinated. A concept large enough to rival contemporaries such as the Volvo XC90, another all electric family shifter, or indeed the now perfidious Sonderklasse, Hyundai’s epithet for the brute swells with confidence – this is a ‘Category Bending’ SUV.

Ignoring range (or its antithesis, anxiety) and dimensions, look deeply at this auto show reveal. The Seven may very well make it to production as is. Scoff at leisure, the Ionic 5 and 6 barely altered from their own concepts to lines rolling. The (practically) British Racing Green bio-paint makes a great first impression, highlighting how metal requires little, if any adornment. Flanks of elegance reside. Front wheel arch entasis, brawn to the rear. A counter over arch maybe a detail too far – removed for the facelift version, maybe?

Rear three quarter views reveal the gentle barrel roll to the belt line, eyes seeing strength without force. Whilst doubtful the poignée de porte will make it to job one, maybe Hyundai will surprise us. As with those pillarless coach-style doors, oozing with concept appeal with candle aping lights nestled. Regulations be damned – make it so! Prayers often go unanswered but perhaps it’s worth a try here.

Credit: Autocar

As to the melted sand, behold, glazing aplenty to be found. Daft as it sounds, this must improve upon outward vision. Of course the Seven will have all available technology to halt your progress to the garden centre if deemed too swift but surely visible corners equate to better road positioning for those with but a hint of road positioning manners? The passengers too receive the chance to enjoy the passing vistas, free from smoked glass or pinched internal apexes – all quite revealing.

Credit: Hyundai.com

Maintaining the glazing theme, to the rear we must peer, for, no matter how one calls it, that’s one impressively large pane. Wired a certain way you’ll cry security risk. Others may repeat the Breadvan mantra. Hyundai may have stretched the stance of visuality but one does hope the Koreans have taken the covering of one’s chattels to heart. Regardless, the sheer transparency of the Seven’s rear is disarmingly welcoming. 

Jewels that one expects to perform braking and directional change duties (with reversing lights a possibility?) frame that studio light. In the perfect environment of the press launch, full of architecture to emphasise the car (or the false lights of the car show), those jewels beguile this author. Perceptions may alter following a Seven on a busy, wet, motorway on a winter night but one hopes not. In the safety stakes, being seen is fifty percent of the battle.

You could always overtake in order to gander at the Seven’s frontispiece. There is a grille, similar to a trivet for cooling baked items upon with vertical light stacks to the edge. A grille, purposeless in use but confident in its address, the car’s face acceptably completed by the laser beam, pixel thin headlamp strip. Frequently underground urban farms employ such illumination to induce produce growth. Will such LED’s pierce oncoming drivers vision? Or have the Koreans tamed such problems? 

Leaving the chaos of the drive behind, let us head into the refined and relaxed interior. A “future vision of autonomous mobility,” discards the norm of conventional seating, pedals and even steering wheel. Hyundai clearly sees the future of transport as open as a furniture catalogue living room. If our children are headed towards computers driving them, why not accommodate stylishly? A rear couch area, swivelling armchairs,a storage device akin to an Ottoman, and all from recycled materials.

Credit: Autocar

A dashboard that will undoubtedly inform the latest NASDAQ info, how many folk in the nearest coffee shop have had booster jabs along with streaming your favourite choons at any speed. Lozenge shaped, hollowed out, ambient lit door recesses – plain, simple, seamless – integrated. Design head Sangyup Lee and team saw fit to install a fridge and shoe care compartment. Cold snacks to hand, your new Chelsea boots under controlled care – what better? Once empty of life forms, ultraviolet light is passed through the cabin to eradicate any germs left behind. A self cleansing car – sign me up.

The majority of concept cars seen today appear to be increasingly confusing, used as a platform for the design team’s professional inputs and little else. Their ideas neutered by customer clinics, distilled by the production process, lambasted by journalists maybe more concerned over lunch. How galling the feeling of creating a potential future only to see it wither on the vine. Hyundai along with cross pollinators, Kia are currently enjoying and employing unbridled opportunities in attempts to wow future mobility users. The Koreans may not have all the answers to how the car will be used but take just a peek at their current line ups. The Japanese hegemony will take some toppling but at this rate, momentum lies with those below the 38th parallel. 

The Seven cannot possibly be to everyone’s taste. No matter what the hue, how incongruous would it look outside a campanile, lest it navigate through the labyrinth streets? Admittedly, so would any other dimensionally challenged behemoth. Opposing arguments as to how correct this would look perhaps charging on ones drive or laconically delivering you and friends to the home game. And maybe delivering them home in perfect safety after several celebratory drinks – there are certain appeals in to not having to drive. 

Credit: Hyundai.com

Markedly aimed for the States, Europe and their own heimat, Hyundai’s Seven snubs longer established brands who have cast themselves into the stylistic midden. Wisdoms of healing and mystical powers probably don’t reside within the Seven. The Seoul outpourings though are fresh, confident and however green fingered (in the metal), emanate purple. 

Whatever will sprout next?

A twenty minute podcast with Hyundai designer Simon Loasby regarding the Seven:

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

37 thoughts on “Seventh Son”

  1. Good morning, Andrew. Green. Purple or any other shade, I don’t like this vehicle, so it’s probably going to be a huge success. Indeed, whatever will sprout next?

  2. Hi Andrew. I’m still trying to get my hear around this car’s exterior styling. The wheel arches look like they’re trying their damnedest to look like the Jeep Wrangler YJ’s, or something like that. The rest looks like someone drank too much absinthe before reaching for his ouija board and then proceeded to summon William Towns’ spirit.

  3. When I first saw this concept, my heart sank. My fear is that it marks the point at which Hyundai (and KIA, for KIA has produced something of a similar concept which is equally unpleasant) descends into a BMW-like ‘more-is-more-is actually-wrong’ pit of ugliness. The latest Tucsons and (especially) Sportages have a hint, but these things confirm it.

    I have similar fears over what I have seen scooped thus far of the incoming batch of Mazda SUVs, but still live in hope.

    Although, troublingly for me, I quite like what they have done with the facelift of the Citroën C5 Aircross (on the outside at least) – maybe my brain is becoming well and truly washed by the constant barrage of ‘butch’ styling features on every possible car these days (save for the boggo versions of the splendid Dacia Sandero, it seems, which even come with plastic wheel-trims).

  4. Good morning all. You might want to be sitting down for this…I like it!

    While there are lots of concept-car fripperies that won’t make it to production, the overall form here is pleasingly calm and assured. It is forward-looking without being overloaded with ‘futuristic’ detail. I can even make visual sense of the diagonal crease in the rear door skin, as I see it carrying on upward to join the uptick in the lower DLO line.

    The only thing I actively dislike are the superfluous additional horizontal crease lines within the wheel arch eyebrows. They are evident in the side profile photo of the car in the piece. I think they are intended to mirror the way the light falls on the shoulder line of the car, but it doesn’t work for me.

    This or a BMW X7? That’s a no-brainer, on looks at least.

    Here’s another photo that shows the front end:

    1. ‘This or BMW X7? That’s a no-brainer …’. A bit like asking ‘This or a frontal lobotomy? …’

    2. A banal digression, but that picture shows just how similar the Hyundai and Sachsenring logos are:

    3. Hi Robertas. I had to think that through, but I get it now:

    4. Mmmm, didn’t think you of all people would like it! I also find it rather elegant even if it makes design mistakes, but this front 3/4 highlights something that I didn’t realize I hated: the way the rear haunch just barely meets (touches) the greenhouse is pretty lackluster and hard to make sense of for me. Additionally, there’s a bit of a cheater panel at the base of the A-pillar which I’d expect to grow on a production model unless they reproportion it drastically. Overall, though, I think nitpicking a design is to lose sight of its overall impression and this one makes a very grand, very futuristic, and perhaps soon-to-be very Hyundai impression indeed.

    5. Oh dear, do I come across as a grumpy old reactionary?

      I thought I hid it well…😁

    1. Please elaborate, Richard. I’m interested to know how you ‘read’ this design.

    2. Sorry for the delay in responding.
      The car pleases me because I can see a clear trope, a readable conceit which has been exectuted in a tidy and internally consistent way. They seem to have reduced the number of design elements. Compare it with the froth from DS or BMW´s recent XM proposal. The rear end is delightfully stark: a black panel framed by an illuminated border with the H logo proudly centred. The front could be drawn in about eight lines – I will overlook the pointy intersection of the bonnet-to-wing-to-lamps junction (done in the name of parallelism, I suppose). Despite the very oblong-on-wheels basic shape the side view shows a few basic character lines converging about two cars´ length behind the vehicle. The squared-off wheel arches add some distinction too. And finally, the green paint wins points. It would be lovely if they applied this line of thinking to a saloon.

  5. Hi all
    I have to admit, I like it. If I wait 15 years until their resale value is rock bottom and I can afford one, I would.
    It reminds me of the Volvo XC90 in profile.

  6. Thanks Andrew for a wonderfully written prose on this futuristic Hyundai. In fact their more recent proposals seem to be at the forefront compared to most other bread-and-butter brands. And in fact so futuristic that i found my mind wandering off giving Seven of Nine the helm and head off to a distant galaxy in this creation… jokes aside, what struck me most is that the logo suddenly looks like an anachronism.

  7. What really does not work for me is the way the haunch over the rear wheel creates such an impression of distortion to flow of panel-work down the side. The effect is made more jarring by the way the lower edge of the DLO kicks up at around the same (theoretical) vertical line – it’s like the car split apart along that line and then was somewhat clumsily glued back together again. It’s shown to best/ worst effect (to my eyes) in the photo Daniel used in his reply/ thought.

    1. Hi S.V. By my usual standards (i.e. blind prejudices) that feature should really annoy me, yet it doesn’t, certainly not as much as the diagonal crease across both door skins on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (which doesn’t seem to offend the majority). Strange.

  8. It would be nice if there were more vehicles in this colour – but not in this size and shape, even in this colour.

  9. I like that the wheels are “handed” so that they all draw air out of the wheel-wells. Not mad about that back window – rather vulnerable if the driver behind is checking his WhatsApp mesages…

    1. Given that so many high-performance vehicles these days have uni-directional tyres (and different wheel widths front and rear), uni-directional wheels seems a perfectly sensible feature.

  10. One reservation I have is that all the photos released so far were taken indoors, either artful, shadowy studio shots, or on a show stand under artificial lights. I’d like to see some outdoor ‘real world’ images to be sure I like it.

  11. I kinda like it.
    Although the glass rear reminds me of my 1987 Honda Civic but not in a good way.
    The one thing I would definitely change is the silver strip at the bottom of the DLO and rear uptick, it needs to be black.
    Beautiful writing, Andrew, very enjoyable.

  12. I’m afraid I don’t like it, or I’m no getting it yet (which is entirely possible). Right now I can only see the thing as if it’s projected through a badly distorted lense. My eyes feel constantly cheated with the wheel arches pushing down oppressively on the wheels, the front that looks vaguely like a distorting mirror and the sneaking suspicion that this car’s too big for its design.

    That last reason, incidentally, is why I’m rapidly souring on the Ioniq 5: it’s just too big, being styled like a hatchback but actually bigger than a BMW X1.

    Finally, it looks to me that the Ioniq 6 is going to be quite different from the concept, although given that it’s going to be smaller and a little more down to earth that’s probably a good thing – excluding the design, which doesn’t seem to be improving. Images from Autoweek.nl:


    Oh my, excuse my grumpiness… maybe I’m just hungry.

    1. Hi Tom. Sorry, for some reason, your comment above ended up in the ‘spam’ folder alongside the unsavoury stuff DTW gets bombarded with every day. The spam filters are very clever, but occasionally overzealous.

    2. And thus, I only noticed it has appeared just now… No worries, it was a very grumpy comment anyway 😉.

  13. Wow, that’s a beast isn’t it 😱. I wonder what tiff final version will look like, I’m hoping there won’t be many changes. I wouldn’t buy one though as far too big for our needs. Another great article Andrew, thank you.

  14. I think it’s a nice design – strong and simple and quite ‘Volvo-like’, as others have said. It reminds me a bit of the P1800 ES Rocket concept by Frua, from 1968.

    It’s quite retro-futuristic in its way (the front reminds me of the robot, Bender, from Futurama – the pixels are now an established Hyundai motif). The concept of a family travelling in their lounge-car is pretty 1950s.

    My reservations are that it’s huge and seems designed to isolate its occupants from the outside world. Dad can play his electric guitar, the children can go on social media and mum can do some tidying, so something for everyone (no luggage, though).

    1. Rhetorical question of the day: Wouldn’t a minivan form factor like the Staria… oh never mind.

  15. For: Smooth purposeful shape, level waistline, nice big windows. Against: Big flat front, fake grille, steamroller wheels. Summary: A beautiful brute.

  16. As a room on wheels this actually looks rather good; it’s certainly not a car as most of us know one. If this is what I can expect to see making its way along the road then I find it far less aggressively intimidating than much of what is there now. But I fear that private transport, so far as outward appearance is concerned, is now lagging far behind public transport. Factor in environmental issues and…….

    Off at a slight tangent, I’ve just discovered a rather fine Alfa Romeo 300 with bodywork by Isotta Fraschini. Apparently unique, it sadly no longer survives.

  17. Good Morning Andrew and well done on an excellent article indeed.
    That is certainly an interesting development but it does very little for me I’m afraid. Front/rear lighting seems so OTT and the sheer size seems unnecessary too. Nil points from moi…

  18. The important thing is that the car has divided opinion. It is either liked or loathed and does not, like a lot of work today, leave one unmoved either way. If people only hated it, that would be a fail too. All the big-grille BMWs are provoking hostility.

    1. Yes, but…

      53 years later, and it still doesn’t fly?! Maybe next year.

    2. Being uncharitable, the Hyundai is pretty solidly in Bruce McCall territory in some respects (e.g. his ‘Driving in 2020’ drawing).

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