By on May 16, 2016

2017 Genesis G90 Front (Release)

Hyundai Motor Company wants its flagship Genesis brand to ooze luxury, and it just added another top industry talent to its dream team to make sure that happens.

The South Korean automaker now has the expertise of former Bentley exterior designer Sangyup Lee, who just jumped ship from the British luxury automaker, Reuters reports.

Lee will serve as vice-president in charge of Hyundai and Genesis design, joining Bentley alumnus Luc Donckerwolke, Hyundai Motor’s new Prestige Design Division head.

The news is the biggest sign yet that Hyundai — a brand once derided as a subpar also-ran — is dead serious about producing competitive luxury automobiles.

With top Bentley designers on board, Genesis now has enough styling talent to make other premium brands nervous. The elegant New York concept car unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in March served as a taste of the design language buyers can expect from the upstart brand.

“Lee will help…enhance the design competitiveness of both the Hyundai and Genesis brands with his abundant experience in designing high-end luxury vehicles,” Hyundai said in its statement. “His challenging and innovative design languages fit well with the DNA of Hyundai Motor.”

Lee told Reuters that Hyundai began courting him two years ago. He said that future Genesis vehicles will be designed by Donckerwolke and himself from “a clean sheet of paper.”

The luxury field is a big growth market for the company, which faces stiff competition at the lower end of the market. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors missed their global sales target in 2015, placing fifth in the industry, though the brand recorded its best first quarter sales numbers in North America earlier this year.

The first Genesis vehicles on the market will be the 2017 G90 full-size sedan and G80 midsize sedan. A compact G70 sedan, two crossovers and an as-yet-unknown sixth model will appear within a few years.

[Image: Hyundai Motor Company]

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29 Comments on “Genesis Scores Big, Hires Bentley’s Exterior Designer...”

  • avatar

    Really keen to see what comes next from this fledgling brand. They’ve got an awful lot of talent in place, and are off to very good start with the existing Genesis sedan.

  • avatar

    I hope that the look of Bentley’s vehicles has been a result of management and marketing’s requirement for bombast rather than Mr. Lee’s own aesthetic, lest my affection for future Hyundai/Genesis vehicles be reduced.

  • avatar

    It needs some style work in my opinion, but I thought Hyundai was already using an agency out of California?

  • avatar

    To me, new Bentleys look like the 16 year progression of the 2000 Kia Spectra. Not exactly sure how this is a “score.”

  • avatar

    With apologies to Ettore Bugatti, does this mean that Genesis will soon be building “the fastest trucks in the world”?

  • avatar

    I happened to see a silver manufacturer-plated G90 in an airport parking garage a few days ago. I only noticed because it was parked next to my own vehicle. Let’s hope Mr. Lee injects some badly needed gravitas into Genesis’ future products. Because this G90 had none. It was dowdy, almost invisible in person.

    • 0 avatar

      They will struggle with this, precisely because the Korean market respects invisible sedans quite a lot. If you’re well-heeled and a businessman, you absolutely do not want to stand out at a traffic light.

      • 0 avatar

        Hiring the guy who’s been designing Bentleys seems like the wrong tactic if they want their steel to remain incognito.

        • 0 avatar

          I think that’s what the separate brand is for. The Genesis brand if it contains only things which look quite different won’t play well with conservative Koreans. They’ll leave their conservative Equus/etc under Hyundai for them.

          Over time I suspect this will change, as the younger people are not nearly as conservative as those running things now.

          • 0 avatar

            You think they’re going to make two different versions of mid size / large lux sedans to appease the local market? I mean, maybe, but it seems like a lot of tooling costs. Do modern manufacturing techniques make this stuff practical now?

          • 0 avatar

            Trim (or lack thereof) is enough to make it look different. Grille, some lights, and some chrome.

    • 0 avatar

      Not that the G90 is a striking design, but fail to see any present flagship sedan with one (all pretty sedate design-wise, as that’s what the clientele in that class prefers).

      The upcoming G70 or the production version of the Kia GT would be better bets for striking sedan designs.

    • 0 avatar
      Keith Tomas

      Based on the pictures I’ve seen, the car looks best from three-quarter angles. The profile is as bland and uninspiring as anything I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar

    Sorry, but I have to:
    This is who’s going to eat Cadillac’s lunch every day.

  • avatar

    Do they sell and service Genesis in the same showroom as Hyundai?

    • 0 avatar

      I was wondering the same thing.

      In my case, I’d have to look far and wide to find one not sold by the sleazeball who owns all the HyundKia stores in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, south of the Detroit area. The dude just comes across as BHPH-esque from the word “go!”

  • avatar

    Coming soon to a dealership near you: The 2018 Hyundai Abenti.

  • avatar

    I’m a fan. As a hyundai owner, and just helping my mom buy one herself, I’m impressed with the brand’s medium to high end so far, and excited to see where they go with this.

    Personally, a Genesis is on my short list anyway, so now it remains to be seen whether I go for a new one or buy a used, still Hyundai branded one, seeing as I’m still 2.5 years or so out from my next purchase.

  • avatar

    Certainly the advances in styling across the whole Hyundai range in the last decade is excellent and their decision to hive off the luxury end as a unique mark is sensible.

    The Bentley styling of recent years seems to have been driven by a customer base that that wants “flash for it’s cash”, exceeded only by the monolithic monsters from Rolls Royce that glide through traffic like mechanized sumo wrestlers.

    How these two world will gell we shall see….

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