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Detroit show: Curb shows Hyundai’s ‘new thinking’

Curb your enthusiasm: Hyundai's show car is unlikely to make it into production.

Hyundai goes hunting urban warriors with Curb battle wagon

11 Jan 2011

TRUMPETING a new slogan – ‘New thinking. New possibilities’ – Hyundai has used the Detroit motor show to unveil a crossover concept vehicle for new-generation city-slickers.

The muscular-looking Curb soft-roader – the brainchild of Hyundai’s Californian design team – is aimed squarely at tech-savvy Gen Y buyers that the South Korean company has identified as the target for its new “modern premium” brand pitch.

According to Hyundai Motor vice-chairman Euisun Chung, Hyundai’s goal is not to become the world’s biggest car company.

“Our goal is to become the most-loved car company and a trusted lifetime partner for our owners,” he said in a speech on the Detroit show stand.

Although the Curb is unlikely to make it into production in its current guise, aspects of the vehicle’s styling and tech-heavy fit-out are set to be weaved into future Hyundai models.

Hyundai said it wanted to evolve the company’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language that has shaped its recent generation of cars such as the i30 and i45.

Hyundai California Design Centre stylist Jason Brown said the team wanted to create a vehicle loaded with technology that looked “urban tough” without looking like an armoured van.

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“City driving was going to be its forte, not crossing the Rubicon trail, but we wanted it to have urban armor for daily driving on city streets,” said Mr Brown. “It needed to empower its passengers in this setting.”

The style is described as “technology rugged”, with massive 22-inch wheels, prominent black grille and thin headlamps reaching from the front fascia back towards the A pillars.

An interesting feature is the truss-style pillar design – each made from single milled pieces – that, because of the see-through structure, is said to aid visibility in urban driving.

There is also a concealed bike rack at the rear and a pop-up roof rack, while the rear “clam shell” hatch is opened via a touchpad and lit by LEDs.

Inside, a large acrylic screen, flowing across the instrument panel and all the way to the back seat, has multiple zones that are supposed to “make sure passengers felt connected to each other and the urban environment around them”.

Even the steering wheel is opaque, allowing a monitor to show through.

Curb shares a load of high-tech infotainment technology with the new Veloster sports coupe that was unveiled at the same time in Detroit.

These features include the company’s new Blue Link central communication and control system that operates in similar style to GM’s OnStar system, with features ranging from simple sat-nav to emergency assist, plus a range of new forms of connectivity, including Pandora internet music.

Curb is powered by a 130kW version of Hyundai’s 1.6-litre Gamma direct-injection four-cylinder engine mated with a dual-clutch gearbox.

While at Detroit, Hyundai’s management team spelled out the company’s new “modern premium” brand positioning, which they describe as providing “emotional value and experiences beyond expectations”.

“Today, customers do not believe that expensive cars with unnecessary technology are premium,” Mr Chung said.

“Instead, they want their core needs fulfilled at an accessible price and with a car that exceeds their expectations – a car that reflects their values and the times in which they live.”

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