Genesis Moves To the ‘Next Level’ With the Neolun Electric SUV and Magma Hot Rods

Hyundai’s premium Genesis brand continued its evolution as a true luxury object with a New York International Auto Show preview of its new Neolun (“New Moon”) electric luxury SUV concept car and a new high-performance sub-brand for its emerging line of track-centric models.

The highlight of the Genesis press event, held at Manhattan’s Genesis House brand center, was the previously unseen Neolun prestige SUV. This vehicle debuts the company’s increasingly ambitious styling, which has evolved from foundational over the last eight years since Hyundai launched Genesis as a stand-alone luxury brand, to aspirational, as Genesis now seeks to become an influential design leader, according to Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai and Genesis Global Design Center, SangYup Lee.

“The last eight years were about finding out who we are,” Lee explained. “The Neolun is the first vehicle going to the next level.” The smooth, unadorned surfaces were created, “not by adding elements, but by taking elements away,” he said.

He pointed out how the Neolun’s body panels fit together with no visible break lines, how the lights and windows are flush with the sheet metal, and how even the Genesis badging is smooth on the vehicle’s surface. The vehicle features an electric running board step for climbing in that extends when the doors open, and even includes a deployable roof rack that remains flush with the roof surface until extending only when it is called on to secure a load.

In a discussion with Lee before he joined Genesis, he told me of how he was impressed by the design of the original Audi TT, with its flush bumpers that did not protrude from the bodywork. Asked whether he is still pursuing that same aesthetic now with the Neolun’s reductive design, Lee said, that while the TT wasn’t a direct influence, “the philosophy and concept around the vehicle, the ultimate puristic shape, there is nothing that sticks out; that was the beauty of the Audi TT.”

“We want to execute that beauty in the Genesis in a way that is a lot more sophisticated,” Lee continued. “Everything is flush and smooth. I think this is one of the ways a car can be more timeless.”

Hard Work

Like many concept cars, the Neolun employs rear-hinged “coach” rear doors that latch to the front doors when closed, so there is no B-pillar in the middle of their opening obstructing access to the vehicle’s interior. This lets designers showcase the expansive interior and gives show-goers a clear look at their lovely design work.

But such pillarless designs are meant for shows only, so when such vehicles reach production, they have conventional doors. The Honda Element and Toyota FJ Cruiser both had such an arrangement, but their rear doors were very small and the result was still unsatisfactory, as the doors rattled when closing because of the poor structural rigidity.

Engineers call this effect “door flutter,” and if it is bad in an affordable Honda or Toyota, it is obviously unacceptable for a vehicle that appears to be targeting the very pinnacle of the market. But Genesis says that the Neolun is slated for production, presumably as the future GV90, and in an exclusive chat with Design News, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, Jay Chang, indicated that it will include the pillarless design when it does.

“The B-pillarless design was the hardest part of the Neolun,” he said. Asked how the company achieved its goals for this component, he replied “a lot of hard work.” It will be interesting to see the details of this hard work when the production model ultimately arrives, considering that even the carbon fiber BMW i3 (which had similar doors) suffered from terrible door flutter despite the strength of that material.

Once inside, the Neolun shows off amazing design, with a Midnight Black and Majestic Blue, two-tone color scheme that Genesis says was inspired by the Korean night sky. This is accented by purple lighting. The Neolun’s wood floor and other surfaces provide radiant heat, which would help reduce the energy needed to keep occupants warm and extending the vehicle’s driving range. I found the sensation of the heat, which was switched on at the press event, feels like a heated bathroom floor before being scolded by the security person to not touch the car.

Hot Lava

While the Neolun is all cool black, blue, and purple, Genesis has chosen volcanic orange as the signature color for its upcoming Magma line of performance variants. While the company showed a whole family of concept Magma models, they officially announced only the GV60 Magma crossover SUV for production in the near future.

Genesis did commit to eventually introducing a Magma high-performance variant for every vehicle in its product line and showed examples of some of those with the GV80 Coupe Concept, G80 Magma Special, and X Gran Berlinetta Concept. However, the G80 Magma Special will be exclusively available in the Middle East.

As the first fully realized Magma model, the GV60 Magma features a wider and lower main air intake in the bumper to better cool the batteries, motor, and brakes. Aerodynamic upgrades include air curtains that enhance the car’s aerodynamic efficiency and canards to boost downforce on the front axle. The enlarged fenders and integrated wheel well air outlets help reduce the kinetic energy of the airflow while improving brake cooling.

Inside those wheel wells, the titanium-colored flow-formed 21-inch wheels incorporate low-drag aero discs, which also help cool the brakes. As the visual cherry on top, roof fins control the aerodynamic flow and channel it to the rear wing, boosting the rear downforce.

“Genesis Magma presents an exciting opportunity to push the boundaries of performance and luxury for new interpretations in high-performance vehicles, with the ultimate goal of developing models exclusive to Genesis,” said Genesis Chief Creative Officer Luc Donckerwolke. “The brand will continue to reveal experimental concepts with careful consideration of both technological and aesthetic elements.”