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Hyundai N Vision 74 Concept Is a Designer's Dream Fulfilled

This hydrogen-powered retro sports coupe is probably the coolest Korean car ever built.

Front 3/4 view of the Hyundai N Vision 74 Concept drifting in the rain
This thing is freakin' sick.
Hyundai

Earlier this week as I was walking around Hyundai's Namyang R&D center outside of Seoul, South Korea with a group of other journalists, a low-slung camouflaged race car silently drove by and stopped us dead in our tracks. It looked sinister and impossibly cool, with a wedge-shaped silhouette and visible futuristic details. Called the N Vision 74 concept, Hyundai has now unveiled that car at its N Day event and it's probably the coolest Korean car ever made.

To understand the N Vision 74 you need some historical context. Hyundai's first production car was the Pony, which was designed by the master Giorgetto Giugiaro and unveiled at the 1974 Turin Motor Show. The Pony had similar styling to the original Volkswagen Golf of the same year -- also a Giugiaro design -- but with a much sleeker fastback roofline and sportier details. Not as well known to the masses is that Hyundai also debuted a stunning two-door Pony Coupe concept in Turin, also penned by Giugiaro, though it was just a static design model and the concept was eventually lost to time.

Giugiaro's lost Pony Coupe was the design inspiration.

Hyundai

A few years ago, chief of Hyundai design Sangyup Lee and his team of designers discovered sketches and blueprints in Hyundai's archives that were for a previously unknown production version of the Pony Coupe. It would have been a fantastic sports car counterpart to the Pony, but it never came to fruition. 

Hyundai didn't have a suitable engine for the car, and the business case just wasn't there. Giugiaro loved the Pony Coupe's design, though, and went on to evolve the Pony Coupe into the DMC DeLorean. At the concept's reveal, Lee said "Please don't say there's a resemblance to the DeLorean, because we did it first." It's not that the N Vision 74 looks like or is copying a Golf or a DeLorean -- it looks like a Giugiaro design. The N Vision 74 is a modern interpretation of the Pony Coupe, fulfilling Giugiaro's dream of what a Hyundai sports car could have been like.

At 194.9 inches in length the N Vision 74 is around 7 inches longer than a Lamborghini Aventador and it's about as tall as a Porsche 911, but its wheelbase is nearly as long as the Hyundai Ioniq 5. It's a superb mix of retro Pony cues and modern details, with the overall silhouette and roofline being an almost identical match to the Pony Coupe. The pointed front end has a deep splitter and a slim grille with Hyundai's signature pixel lights, which are also used at the rear. 

The boxed fenders are massively flared and have big intakes, and the intense ground effects kit includes a complex diffuser and deep side skirts. There's awesome louvers on the back window, a big rear wing, turbofan-style wheels and a host of other cool details. It looks like a race car from Blade Runner, but it's also restrained and refined. The retro design is immediately apparent, but the N Vision 74 stands on its own merit too. And it looks even better in person.

Its powertrain is just as interesting as the styling. The N Vision 74 is Hyundai's latest high-performance test bed, following Veloster-based cars like the mid-engined RM19 and electric RM20e. But the N Vision 74 is the first one to use a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which Hyundai says is its most advanced ever. There's a 72.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack with 800-volt capability and two electric motors, both of which are mounted at the rear and provide precise torque vectoring, plus an 85-kW fuel-cell stack with a 4.2-kg tank capacity. Hyundai says the car can either be powered by just the EV setup or the full fuel-cell system together, and it has a three-channel cooling system that improves performance and efficiency.

I want to do this.

Hyundai

Total output is more than 671 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, not quite as much as the RM20e but still good enough to rocket the N Vision 74 to a top speed of over 155 mph. Refueling the car takes just 5 minutes, and it has a driving range exceeding 373 miles. Hyundai says it will be testing the N Vision 74 at racetracks like the Nürburgring, and N's engineers are also considering adding a third electric motor at the front axle.

Hyundai says the N Vision 74 will remain a rolling lab, influencing the development of the brand's future performance production cars and race cars. The company is staying committed to hydrogen powertrains, and this concept will help refine and improve that technology. While officially the N Vision 74 is just a concept and Hyundai says it has no plans to put anything like it into production, if you take away the race car bits and give it the Ioniq 5's EV powertrain it would make for a seriously hot roadgoing coupe, one that would be seemingly easy to design and engineer for actual sale. As Lee says, history and trends always repeat, and he wants to bring the 1970's design character to the mainstream. What better way to do that than with a showstopping production coupe?