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Hyundai Curb concept tackles potholes, nightclubs

Hyundai's HCD-12 Curb Concept blends 'tough tech' with Hyundai's 'fluidic sculpture' design language.

Hyundai HCD-12 Curb concept
At the 2011 Detroit auto show, Hyundai showed off its latest concept, the HCD-12 Curb, an on-roader that is built to handle beat-up city streets while treating the passengers to an interesting cabin tech package. The Curb is a very compact package, only about 4 inches longer than Hyundai's smallest Accent model.
Josh Miller/CNET
Hyundai's HCD-12 Curb Concept blends what the automaker calls "tough tech" with "fluidic sculpture" design language.
Hyundai's HCD-12 Curb Concept blends what the automaker calls "tough tech" with "fluidic sculpture" design language. Josh P. Miller/CNET

DETROIT--It wouldn't be a car show without a few wild concepts. So alongside the wild Veloster production model, Hyundai also unveiled the crazy HCD-12 Curb concept.

The Curb, for short, is a compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV) with an overall length that's only 4-inches longer than the smallest of Hyundai's lineup, the Accent. However, the Curb manages to cram a good deal into that small space.

Starting with styling, the Curb's wheel wells are filled by massive 22-inch wheels that are wrapped with special graphic tires. Sitting atop those wheels is a body that takes the automaker's "fluidic sculpture" design language in a new direction. Up front is an LED array for the headlamps and out back is an illuminated "Curb" logo that shines through special semitransparent paint. The Curb's design appears to be missing A-pillars, but they are actually there, hidden by wrap-around glass. The A-pillars are trussed, allowing for increased visibility due to their see-through design.

In the cabin, the Curb features a special touch-sensitive interface built by Continental that is based on a virtual globe. Users access icons that wrap around this globe by swiping up or down and left or right on the touch display. The concept is also equipped with Hyundai's Blue Link telematics and connectivity suite, which gives drivers the ability to update their social networks with the vehicle's location, call for help in emergencies, or beam a destination for turn-by-turn directions to the navigation system.

Performance is optimized for on-road situations, making no off-roading pretenses. Hyundai says the Curb is a vehicle "built to handle potholes and nightclubs." Power-train tech consists of a 175-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injected engine that sends 169 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission. We're guessing it's an uprated version of the Veloster's power train, but Hyundai is still claiming 40-plus highway mpg and 30-plus mpg in the city despite the increased power--granted it doesn't have to prove those numbers from a concept.