Hyundai has revealed a retro-tastic electric concept based on a first-generation Grandeur, the company’s former flagship from 1986. And holy cow, is it brilliant. The project was undertaken to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Grandeur and took designers approximately eight months to complete.
The boxy, ’80s shape of the Grandeur forms the perfect foundation for an updated electric sled. Designers largely kept the lines of the original, but updated the grille, mirrors, moldings and lights. Of course, the drivetrain is battery-electric, but details were not disclosed. Nor was it the point. The result looks like an executive limousine from the original Blade Runner or Tron. The wheels, too, evoke a 1980s hubcap but appear to be one-piece alloys.
When we interviewed ex-Bentley designers Luc Donckerwolke and Sangyup Lee in 2019, they had big plans to make lighting a big part of Hyundai design. That has since manifested itself in the novel illumination ideas that have spread throughout the Hyundai empire, and the Grandeur doesn’t hold back.
Instead of traditional lighting, the head and taillights are a grid of LEDs, repeating the squared-off theme of the body and new eggcrate grille. That theme is echoed in the side marker lights, which now blend into a silver side molding strip unlike the amber ones of old.
However, the cabin is where the lighting really shines (no pun intended). Ambient LEDs extend from either end of the dashboard along both the front and rear doors like neon stripes. They even form the silhouette of speakers when they pass over some of the cones of the four-way sound system. All that is topped off by a dazzling grid of lights embedded in an infinity mirror above the rear passenger bench. Sitting in the back must feel like you’re lounging in the lobby of a mid-century hotel/casino.
The interior makes the most excellent use of velvet since Elvis. Mixed with leather — on the seat backs, not the seating surfaces, mind you — it encapsulates what luxury was in the 1980s, and looks far more plush than the original Grandeur ever was.
The dashboard is where the concept’s electric underpinnings rise to the surface. The original instrument cluster and vents have given way to a large digital display that almost spans the entirety of the dash. It hides some of the speakers in the 18-speaker sound system as well. A lower level concealing storage areas for sunglasses and such opens like the keyboard cover of a piano.
The center stack that used to house climate and stereo controls is now a tall touchscreen that controls the infotainment functions. It also doubles as a digital piano in case musically inclined drivers suddenly get struck by inspiration while sitting in traffic. A center console has a sliding compartment for wristwatch-sized items as well as a handbag-style opening for larger, flat items.
The Grandeur is a follow-up to Hyundai’s electric Pony concept from April, built to commemorate the opening of a new design studio in Busan, South Korea. Like its predecessor, the Grandeur is an amazing concept that shows just how much fun one can have with modern car design on an EV platform. Not every electric car has to look sleek and emotionless. Like the Pony, this is something we’d ride.