By on June 7, 2018

Image: Hyundai

If you’re following the Busan International Motor Show as close as we are, and we know you are, you no doubt saw the unveiling of Hyundai’s newest and largest concept vehicle, the HDC-2 Grandmaster. Sounding like an air-dropped fission weapon or perhaps an experimental jet prototype of the 1940s, Hyundai’s big, honkin’ SUV concept showcases where the company’s going with its design language.

It’s also possible you’ve seen the Grandmaster’s shape before, perhaps churning up the snow on a wintery test course in a set of spy photos.

Earlier this year, we got our hands on pics of a well-camouflaged unibody utility vehicle traipsing through the powder. The model in question, while not officially named, is expected to become the pinnacle of Hyundai’s crossover range, positioned above the Santa Fe (formerly the Santa Fe Sport) and replacing the Santa Fe XL (formerly the Santa Fe). Hyundai claims it wanted a vehicle that appeals to an American clientele, and you know what that means. Big, blunt, and imposing.

Based on a U.S. trademark application, it’s possible the range-topper will carry the “Palisade” name. Both vehicles can be seen below:

Image: Hyundai

For the record (and the less cultured among us), Hyundai’s choice of “Grandmaster” for its concept relates to chess, not the fellow who hung out with the Furious Five.

Minus the oversimplified front end treatment and oversized wheels, the Grandmaster’s proportions looks pretty similar to the vehicle seen in those snowy photos, so what we’re seeing roll out in Busan is a taste of real product to come. Referring to the concept as a “blueprint for our evolved design strategy,” SangYup Lee, Vice President and head of Hyundai styling, said “we will move towards becoming a brand that customers can really relate to emotionally. Moving on from being a brand that provides a great value, we will aspire to also become a brand that is widely beloved by our customers.”

It’s no wonder why Hyundai’s new design strategy carries the tongue-tying label of “sensuous sportiness.” Who doesn’t want to be either of those things?

While full-size crossover buyers seem to prefer a brawny looking vehicle that hides the fact it lacks a ladder frame or solid rear axle (*cough* Chevy Traverse *cough*), designers delve a little deeper into the buyer’s subconscious. According to Hyundai, the concept’s styling harmonizes “four key elements – proportion, architecture, styling and technology – thereby bringing emotional value and desirability.”

Hyundai sure hopes buyers feel the pull. The automaker’s American comeback strategy hinges on the popularity of the new crossovers coming down the pipe, especially models like the Palisade(?) and revamped Santa Fe. Interestingly, it’s because of crossovers that Hyundai posted its first year-over-year monthly sales gain of 2018 in May. The automaker’s volume rose 11.5 percent last month. Credit goes to the recently-arrived subcompact Kona, which moved just over 5,000 units in March, plus modest sales increases for the Santa Fe family and Tucson.

[Images: Hyundai, Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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