EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been corrected to note that Hyundai's new design philosophy is called "Sensuous Sportiness."
Almost by definition, the 45-year-old buyer of a Hyundai Sonata has different tastes from the recent college graduate getting behind the wheel of an Elantra.
So why make the midsize sedan just a scaled-up version of the compact?
Hyundai Motor Co.'s design team says they shouldn't anymore.
Continuing a break from the "family look" that the South Korean brand cultivated in previous generations of vehicles, Hyundai will soon start rolling out a design language that gives each model and each segment its own aesthetic. The goal is to better tailor styling to the target customers most likely to buy a nameplate, while injecting more creativity, emotion and sex appeal into the brand's big and growing lineup.
Early signs of the shift in approach came in the reboot of Hyundai's crossover lineup, where the new Kona and updated Tucson and Santa Fe share a few design touches but have distinct shapes and proportions. Hyundai's top designers told Automotive News last year that a family look had been important for Hyundai when it lacked strong brand recognition, but now they're keen to avoid the Russian doll effect.
The new design language, which Hyundai's design chiefs Luc Donckerwolke and Sang-Yup Lee began working on two years ago, will appear in two production cars, a sedan and crossover, due by early next year.
The public got its latest preview of the look in the HDC-2 Grandmaster SUV concept unveiled June 7 at the Busan auto show in South Korea.
That followed the HDC-1 Le-Fil Rouge sedan concept shown in March at the Geneva show.