Fresh Mint

Has Genesis shown us a fresh face in emission-free motoring?


Editor’s note: This piece first appeared on DTW in April 2019.

Since the advent of the automobile, cars and cities have co-existed in an uneasy truce, but as concerns over deteriorating air quality gain traction across the developed world, it seems increasingly likely that our urban streets are simply not big enough for both. So the mid-term future for the combustion-engined motor car, in an urban context at least, looks bleak. However, like most behavioural shifts, this seems unlikely to occur overnight, but already – as previously reported both here and elsewhere – urban legislatures are taking matters upon themselves by limiting or banning outright, vehicles which fail to meet stricter emissions rules.

Also as previously discussed on these pages is the likelihood that in the near-future, prior to any outright bans at least, city cars will increasingly shift from the cheap and cheerful vehicles we know now to expensive, mostly EV products increasingly aimed towards the affluent urban dweller.

Image: urdesignmag

Hyundai’s luxury car brand, Genesis, faces what is likely to be a lengthy and precipitous climb towards acceptance and upmarket credibility, having recently launched in the US market and with plans to do likewise in Europe next year. The task they face is both onerous and uncertain – ask Lexus, to say nothing of Infiniti – or DS Auto for that matter. Making its simultaneous debut at the Shanghai and New York motor shows this week, the Genesis Mint concept previews the kind of upmarket compact urban vehicle the carmaker suggests might tempt the upwardly mobile out of the ‘urban-CUVs’ they currently appear to like so much.

More coupé than city-hatch in form, the Mint’s sinuous forms make virtue of its means of propulsion with short overhangs, strong, muscular proportions and clean, largely unadorned surfaces. If the nose treatment can be described as somewhat Tesla-esque, that is perhaps an inevitable consequence of carmakers adopting a grille-free aesthetic. There are after all only so many ways to skin a cat. And on the subject of stylistic reflections, the canopy might put one in mind of Lancia’s 2003 Stilnovo concept, if only fleetingly.

Image: insideevs

The Mint is currently configured as a three-abreast-seater, with a rather exposed looking storage area behind the seats. Access to the rear compartment is through an elaborate pair of scissor-style hatches, which looks impressive, if a little over-elaborated – as does the instrumentation and controls. But it is after all a concept. Genesis say it employs a high-density battery pack which should enable it to travel approximately 200 miles (322 km) on a full charge.

Perhaps the biggest surprise however is the possibility that Genesis might be considering a production version, brand chief Manfred Fitzgerald telling Autocar, “I believe that there is a white spot on the map that nobody is really catering to and it’s something we should really take a stab at.

There is much to admire in the Mint concept, especially if Genesis can in fact, (a) produce it, and (b) do so in relatively undiluted form. Certainly, as a challenger brand in the luxury sector, they are perhaps better placed to be at the vanguard and it behoves them more to take a risk.

Image: engadget

About a decade (or so) ago, radical environmentalists overtly targeted SUVs in a campaign to highlight issues of wasteful consumption. With disruptive protests currently taking place in central London and elsewhere against Governments’ apparent inaction on climate change, who is to say that similar (and more virulent) campaigns might not again form?

Certainly our cities ought not be populated by oversized, hyper-aggressive behemoths, so if the future of urban vehicles is set to move closer to the lines made flesh by Luc Donckerwolke’s design team here, it seems (on the face of things) like something worth standing behind. Mind you, given the likely asking prices, this is probably where the rest of us will find ourselves confined as the urban elite ooze past.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

12 thoughts on “Fresh Mint”

  1. I thought it had shades of Renault (and Nissan) when I saw it yesterday.

    On the topic, Renault presented the K-ZE electric car in Shanghai (a facelifted Kwid in fact) and what I found interesting is that the car is officially called the Renault City K-ZE, with the word ‘city’ under the Renault name inscribed on the hatch: I think this is the first time Renault added a word to its name, both on paper and on the metal. Could Renault-City becomes a sub-brand for these urban dwelling EVs mentioned in the article ?

  2. It strikes me that this is exactly how BMW should evolve the Mini brand. Its typical demographic (young, urban, relatively affluent) should be perfect and it could also get the company out of its current design dead-end.

    1. I couldn’t agree more – the current mini design has surely been bled to a horrible death. And this looks like the fresh design I doodled years ago (not very well obviously – the call never came ), and of course no surprise that it came from Korea. I know it’s been said before, but doesn’t it just make you realise how far the European brands have slipped. Fiat seem a one-car, one- design, company. And Citroen, whom I love, just keep inventing new directions (Berlingo, and perhaps Cactus), and then abandoning them with their newer output. But what do I know. I actually saw a C5X in London today….

  3. It reminds me a bit of the new Smart #1, or whatever they have called it. At the same time, it’s also like a smoothed-over KIA EV6 from some angles.

  4. I still find it perverse that Teslas conspicuously lack a ‘grill’/air-intake at the front. They have liquid cooling, and cooling fans so why not be honest and have a grill ?

    1. They have a grille only where it’s needed. How is that dishonest?

    2. I think the grill-less front is used as a signal these days. A vehicle without a grille signals to others “I am an EV” aka “I am something better”.
      Of course EVs need cooling air too, but it’s designed that way so the statement isn’t compromised.

      Basically the same as four or more exhaust pipes at the rear years ago – also a sign of “I am something better”.

      I can understand if some contemporaries feel (have felt) shouted at by this signal. I, too, find both the one and the other a little cheap and cheesy.
      But one can’t help but accept the effect of these signals, even if one don’t like them personally.

    3. Fred, Evs need far less open cooling area than ICEs. I tend to think on the contrary – putting a grille where it’s not necessary can be rather tacky. Observe most if not all EVs with a grille graphic on the front – it never serves a cooling purpose. All the radiators are situated down low.

    4. John, you are right up to a point.

      But even most, if not all, ICEs have a radiator grille graphic that is far larger than the amount of air needed for cooling.
      It has become the fashion.

      Since vehicles, like vehicle categories, are subject to fashion, one faction wears a tie of different sizes and the other wears no tie at all to prove that they belong to a certain group.

  5. I like the idea of a smallish coupe. I’m not sold on the Mint’s back end and I also would have preferred if the luggage compartment was separate from the cabin. Is it just me or is this concept already looking a bit dated?

  6. I thought it looked like a Renault – its rear has Mégane elements to it. I’m not keen and I too don’t think it’s aged well. It looks like a pebble.

    My main concern is that although it seems to be only a 2-seater in the video, it still looks wide and that would negate one of the key advantages of a small car – being relatively narrow. It doesn’t look space-efficient.

  7. I’m with a few others: it looks a bit dated to me. After reading the X prototypes article a few days ago, I can only think: ‘how far they’ve come’. I don’t follow Genesis that closely, but whenever I see something go by (virtually, that is) I’m not completely sold, but impressed all the same.

    As observed under that other Genesis article, Hyunday, KIA and Genesis seem to have monopolised all the design confidence in the industry. Psychologically, I can understand that as they, like the Chinese brands, obviously see the current transitional period as an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Rightly, too, by the looks of things. Feeling like you’re on the up should feel good, but the contrast with the current ‘premium’ crop is very stark to me. That said, recent murmurs from BMW and Audi seem encouraging.

    Maybe it’s the green (and the badge), but I’m irrestistibly reminded of the Aston Martin Cygnet, which doesn’t help.

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