Why Hyundai should build the N Vision 74, the best concept car in a generation

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If you study poker, especially the theory behind no-limit Texas Hold’em tournaments, you are aware of inflection points. In a poker tournament, these are places where you have to recognize that the game has changed, the value of the chips on the table has changed and your strategy needs to change too, otherwise you will quickly become a spectator. Suddenly, a hand that was previously certain to fold seems like a good time to shove all your chips in the middle and empathetically say, “All-in.” The game theory behind this is similar to chess where knights are crucial for the first 10 moves or so and not nearly as important later in the game. Rooks, literally useless for most of those 10 first moves, become the deadliest pieces on the board when you reach the later third of the game. An inflection point in chess is knowing when it’s OK to sacrifice a knight. hyundai, the Korean car manufacturer, has reached such an inflection point. As such it is should to build the best concept car in a generation, the N Vision 74.

To understand why Hyundai should build it, we must first look at the history of the brand. Founded in 1967, Hyundai was both unknown and unpronounceable to Americans until 1986 when the Excel appeared. A miserable car in every way, it was $1,000 more expensive than its main competitor, the Yugo. Hyundai continued to be the butt of car-dude negative shorthand (“That looks like a Hyundai!”) to indicate that another car looks cheap/bad – until sister brand Kia arrived in 1993.

Hyundai’s reputation among the average consumer has improved over the years, but not much, and certainly not nearly as much as its real cars are improved. Example: A friend recently called to ask what I thought about buying a Volkswagen ID4. I said no, I don’t like that car, and for about the same money you could have a Hyundai Ioniq 5. can have. If you’re a car enthusiast, you know that the Hyundai is superior to the VW in every way except for the price (the Hyundai starts at about $5,000 more). Her response from a non-car person: “I don’t really see myself ever driving a Hyundai.”

Which brings us to the necessity of the N Vision 74. I’ve posted nearly 10,000 things on Instagram – yes, I have no life. However, I have never seen a Korean car, let alone a Hyundai, receive such universal praise. Of the 500+ comments under my post on the N Vision 74, maybe two were negative. People love the way this thing looks. Nobody cares that it’s a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (it even has great stats: over 670 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque), nobody cares that it’s a “rolling lab” and nobody cares that the tech is picking up the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo concept stopped. No, all anyone cares about is the incredible good looks of this car. It’s fantastic.

Hyundai points out that the design of the N Vision 74 was inspired by a concept car from 1974 designed by Giugiaro called the Pony Coupe. I totally see it, the way I see Alexandra Daddario is akin to Neanderthals in the diorama of your local natural history museum. Nice story, marketing bro. Like the stuff from the previous section about things nobody cares about, we can throw the Pony Coupe concept on that pile. Instead, we should focus on the fact that “the Koreans,” meaning Hyundai, Kia and Genesis, have built the best design team in the auto industry. The Hyundai Group’s design team is led by none other than Luc Donckerwolke, the man who wrote both the Lamborghini Murciélago and the current Bentley Continental GT. This group is advised by former head of design and living design legend Peter Schreyer. That’s only two. When you put so much talent under one roof (or the roofs of several global design centers), cars like the N Vision 74 are the inevitable result.

What struck me about the response to this car is that, like the best politicians, people projected their own hopes and dreams onto the N Vision 74, albeit in a very specific automotive way. To my mind, the design initially screamed a mix of Lancia 037 and DeLorean DMC-12 (which, yes, informed the Pony Coupe concept later). They’re both cars that made me salivate in the 1980s. Others saw the cars that meant something to them, cars they love. Here’s an incomplete list of other cars that people say the N Vision 74 reminds them of: Audi Ur-Quattro, Nissan 240SX, Volkswagen Scirocco, Toyota AE86, BMW M1, MKIII, Toyota Supra, and Mitsubishi Starion. Each of these cars responds to the zeitgeist of today’s car enthusiast. Does the N Vision 74 really look like any of them? Not special, because it really is its own unique thing. But the Group B vibes it gives off are just unmistakable, honey. And if you can enthuse people who are passionate about cars – something Hyundai has rarely done – you have done your job as a designer.

Hyundai is thus at a turning point. The brand has gone on a European recruitment drive, driving countless lifelong talents away from German giants like the Volkswagen Group and BMW. The results so far have been great, if not a little predictable. Yes, the Palisade is a great three-row SUV, eclipsed by its sibling, the prettier Kia Telluride. Yeah man, there’s nothing wrong with the Elantra, and it might even be 85 percent as good as a Honda Civic. The Elantra N, meanwhile, is a sweet little performance sedan. Sure, even if no one has driven yet the new Civic Type R“I’m sure the Honda will be better. But with this N Vision 74, Hyundai has a rare, real opportunity to lead the industry rather than just be competitive. I started the aforementioned Instagram post like this: “‘Man, I really want a Hyundai!’ many people said for the first time ever.” I stand by those words. Hyundai finally has the best hand with the N Vision 74. It’s time to shove all his chips in.