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Hyundai investigating coupe-SUV models

Shape shifter: Hyundai’s Intrado concept from 2014 previewed the look of a possible future coupe-SUV model.

Former BMW exec paves way for Hyundai’s version of X6 coupe

5 May 2017

HYUNDAI Motor Europe (HME) chief designer Thomas Burkle has revealed that coupe-SUV models are now high on the agenda, with the German-born former BMW executive explaining that the success of models such as the X6 now pave the way for a high-riding body style expansion.

Travelling from HME technical centre in Russelsheim, Germany, to attend the national media launch of the new i30 in southern New South Wales, Mr Burkle told GoAuto: “I am more than happy to push forward with these things (a coupe SUV) and these ideas.

“Definitely it’s very interesting to open the door for body variants in the SUV segment. (BMW) X6, of course, I know the whole history of that car and I think we will see a bandwidth of cars in the SUV segment as well because it is a growing segment.

“But let’s say with the (i30) fastback it’s some kind of a starting point to new body variants that are more on the emotional side, where Hyundai is known as a practical car, this is a new step and if it goes well we will build on that.”

A swoopy, coupe-style five-door i30 has been confirmed to replace the outgoing traditional three-door hatchback on the switch from the 2012 GD to 2017 FD generation.

Mr Burkle said that Hyundai buyers were becoming more affluent, adding that the company was starting to pitch higher-grade versions of its vehicles to a greater degree than ever, and this would first influence models such as the i30, then progress to the SUV realm.

“It is of course a success story if people buy the higher versions, it means they open their wallets and are really excited about the cars, not just to buy a cheap transportation device,” Mr Burkle explained.

“We have overcome this situation already and we know our customer base has a solid income, so we want to offer a more exciting range. For the company this really is a new stage now.”

Asked whether SUVs were occupying a major space within Hyundai design at the moment, he replied: “Yes I can say so.”

With the imminent launch of the brand’s Kona small SUV, its SUV portfolio will expand and add to the current Tucson medium SUV and Santa Fe large SUV models.

For Mr Burkle, larger SUV models make more sense for a coupe spin-off.

“I could imagine in many segments a coupe (SUV) version but we have to see the ratio of body size, of wheel size, of length, of rear overhang and so on,” he said.

“You need for a coupe profile a certain length, and you need the ratio of height and length. We talk a lot about proportion and this is also something new, we never talked so much about proportion in the past. So now before we start making some sketches we start discussing what is the wheelbase, what is the height, what is the width of the car.

“For us the early phase before we really sharpen the pencil is extremely important.”

The oldest SUV in the Hyundai line-up is the Santa Fe. Asked if the next-generation of the largest Hyundai SUV could see a coupe-style spin-off, the chief designer replied: “Yes, but it could also be in a more compact segment.”

Hyundai globally will also reveal at least two Genesis SUV models before 2020, the luxury-sports derivations of which could further see a coupe-style variant.

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