Concept Cars

Genesis previews future fuel cell SUV with GV80 concept

With a pair of sedans under its belt, the new Genesis luxury marque sets its sights on a concept SUV that explores the future of the brand's design.

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Hyundai's Genesis luxury marque is now a fully fledged automaker and has set about filling out its lineup with the debut of the GV80 concept SUV at the New York auto show.

The full-size SUV concept is powered by "the latest plug-in hydrogen fuel cell electric technology." We're pretty sure that means that it has a modest battery that can be recharged at a station for limited full-electric range that, when exceeded, is augmented by electricity generated onboard by the hydrogen fuel cell. In reality, this is a concept car that doesn't actually have to work on the road, so it might as well run on magic. Then again, specifying an electrified powertrain at the very least indicates that the Genesis brand is actively pursuing alternative fuel sources for the future.

The GV80 is mostly a design study that explores what a future SUV from the Genesis brand would look like. The concept stretches elements from the Genesis luxury sedans, such as the shield shape of the grille, across and around the SUV proportions.

I don't think it's a bad-looking ride from most angles, though my fellow editors seem to disagree with my opinion here. I really like the way the chrome shield grille and its lower grille surround totally engulf and shape the front of the vehicle, and I dig the muscular shoulders created by the front fenders, but I also think that the GV80's slit-shaped quad headlamps -- which Head of Genesis Brand Manfred Fitzgerald called a signature design element that will feature on all future Genesis models -- needs a bit more time to bake. As is, they seem a bit like an afterthought.

The most interesting bits of the GV80's design can be found in the cabin where the designers have pushed the design the furthest with elements such as an uber-wide 22-inch curved OLED "infinity display" that stretches across the entire dashboard, integrating the infotainment and driver information into one continuously flowing display.

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Aside from this long, slim display and the steering wheel, the GV80's cabin seems is almost completely devoid of physical controls, displays or interruptions. Genesis has hidden most controls in a central Gorilla Glass touch controller and a set of metal inlays called "strings" that run the length of the center console like the strings of a guitar. By touching these strings, all four passengers can quickly access the four main infotainment functions -- navigation, entertainment, communication and environment.

Fitzgerald stated that the GV80 is pretty far along on the road to production, expecting an SUV using a similar design -- if maybe not the plug-in hydrogen powertrain -- in about two years. The Genesis brand has previously committed to delivering a total of six models by 2020 including a pair of SUVs.