Genesis’s press launch claims the Essentia “elevates and reimagines the ‘Athletic Class’ design paradigm,” which feels like some hard-core advertising nonsense. There’s much more to the automobile than what buzzwords can convey, although, so we tracked down its designers, Luc Donckerwolke and Sangyup Lee, to get their insights.
Each males are Bentley veterans and know a factor or two about luxurious manufacturers. And, regardless of their insistence good luxurious design ought to communicate for itself, we made them speak about what makes the Essentia distinctive, the way it will inform future Genesis street vehicles, and what Genesis DNA even means.
Lee, vice chairman of Genesis design who beforehand labored at Porsche, Pininfarina, and GM the place he designed the fifth-gen Camaro, began off with a dose of brutal honesty and a wry grin. “The world of premium vehicles can exist simply tremendous with out Genesis,” he declared.
As such, the designers got a seemingly unimaginable process. How does one justify Genesis’s existence in a luxurious market crowded by Germans, Japanese, Individuals, and Brits? The model is simply two and a half years outdated, and never solely does it lack historical past, however even its nation of origin isn’t sometimes related to Outdated World richness.
“Whenever you see Burberry, you suppose London. Whenever you see Chanel, you suppose Paris,” Lee continued. “What involves thoughts while you suppose Seoul?”
Thus, the problem grew to become designing a automobile that not solely outlined Genesis, however a whole tradition.
“It is a luxurious model that’s not aggressive or smug,” defined Genesis design chief Donckerwolke, a Belgian who headed Lamborghini’s design division and ushered in its angular period by penning the Murciélago. “It matches the Korean perspective of being humble and the nation’s popularity for top tech items.”
Conventional Korean artwork and design additionally prizes minimalism. “There is a great thing about vacancy,” Donckerwolke famous. “Koreans are professional in orchestrating white areas and never overpowering with an excessive amount of litter.”
Lee provided a particular instance. “Take calligraphy. In conventional Korean brushwork, the white areas in between are extra essential than the lettering itself.”
With these ideas delineated, the Essentia started to take form. It needed to “transport the id of the model,” Donckerwolke asserted. “A coupe was a part of the unique Genesis lineup,” he instructed us, and from there a GT was the apparent selection.
One factor he was adamant about, nonetheless, was that it should have no ornamentation as a “attribute of the model.” Completed in Stardust Grey Metallic with Midas steel copper highlights, the ensuing present automobile is way faraway from the “‘Bahn brute” components.
Its easy strains evoke the grandest tourers of the 1960s. Sensational butterfly doorways flank a bubble-top cover with sweeps of curved glass. The windshield extends far forward of the cowl in a single steady expanse. After all, as an EV there isn’t any engine to view, however parts of what seem like racing-type pushrod suspension could be glimpsed beneath the glass.
Regardless of its fantastical seems, the Essentia displays a number of concepts that may see manufacturing, some as early as subsequent 12 months, Donckerwolke revealed. Extra than simply cues, these are tenets that might be used to form upcoming Genesis street vehicles.
The very first thing Donckerwolke identified was the Essentia’s brief entrance and rear overhangs, which add to the dramatic form but additionally serve a efficiency perform by pushing the wheels out to the corners for higher dealing with. Furthermore, a lot of the mass is on the again. It was essential that the automobile look “as if it is sitting on its rear wheels to reinforce the rear-wheel-drive configuration,” he asserted. Anticipate each of those attributes to seem on future Genesis vehicles.
An EV does not want entrance intakes, however the Essentia has a “Genesis Crest” grille anyway. The form will seem on manufacturing vehicles, however on the idea it does not present inner move. As an alternative, it diverts air via vents that exit aft of the entrance wheels and over what are literally pontoon fenders rising simply above the glass “hood.” These fenders are separate from the cockpit, and Donckerwolke says the air passing via supplies further downforce.
One other future manufacturing characteristic is the “parabolic line,” which creates the beltline because it extends from the tops of the fenders rearward, arcing throughout the deck in — you guessed it — an ideal parabola. From the facet, it retains the beltline flat. Donckerwolke and Lee are each decidedly “anti-wedge,” referring to the way in which beltlines of most trendy vehicles rise in direction of the rear, decreasing visibility and creating a necessity for big wheels or busy character strains to offset the following slab-sidedness.
Some of the hanging options of the Essentia are the quad headlamps, slivers of sunshine that may function one other Genesis trademark. Comparable lights have been launched on the 2017 GV80 idea SUV, however now they’re taken to a brand new degree. Extending previous the entrance wheels and into the fenders, they cleverly double as facet repeaters and negate the necessity for a tacky synthetic vent.
“Slim lights are troublesome as a result of it is laborious to get them vivid sufficient with the given floor space,” Lee revealed, “However this might be a Genesis signature, pushed by tech.” He alluded to the truth that South Korea has develop into a world chief in LED expertise, including to the cultural DNA of the automobile.
Lee then invited us to take a seat within the automobile, and opened the butterfly doorways to reveal a cross-hatch sample alongside the jambs. Donckerwolke defined that “that is what designers name a ‘grey zone,’ an space that historically hasn’t been designed. In most vehicles, this interface between the interior and outer pores and skin is simply sheetmetal. We needed it to be a part of the construction, but don’t have any materials the place it is not wanted.”
Lee added that the intention was for air to move via the physique of the automobile, with a purpose to present cooling and downforce. On the Essentia, that facet wasn’t absolutely carried out — it’s a idea, in any case — so when you look intently, the openings do not utterly go via.
That does not take something away from the fantastic thing about the cabin, although. Sitting beneath its glass cover feels immediately nostalgic and futuristic abruptly. Instantly, gliding alongside the French Riviera beneath a Jetsonian bubble of serenity looks like it needs to be a life objective. Pencil-thin pillars and a very panoramic high present a convertible-like sensation of openness and a natural-feeling visibility. Donckerwolke defined: “The cabin needed to have a panoramic really feel. It could not be claustrophobic.”
The 2 entrance seats seem skinny and ethereal, upholstered in Cognac leather-based with chevron quilting, one thing Donckerwolke mentioned “you would take and put in your lounge, like an Eames chair.”
The entrance buckets positively stand out. The Essentia is a 2+2, however the rear seats are subtly blended into the background with Oxford blue velvet, matching the carpet and middle tunnel (there isn’t a transmission, however the batteries are housed within the backbone to maintain the ground low to the bottom).
Earlier than the motive force is a singular “floating” instrument pod and an unbroken display screen sweeping throughout the sprint. “We needed to combine the screens into the structure,” Lee instructed us, including, “And as you understand, Korea is legendary for its curved display screen expertise.”
The mottled materials beneath is recycled carbon fiber, a callback to the Essentia’s composite monocoque. A skinny single vent stretching throughout the sting of the sprint might be one other Genesis trademark. “We cannot have vents within the conventional sense,” Donckerwolke mentioned. “It is going to be like this, or we’ll have ambient air.”
From the cockpit, the arcs of the fenders look much more spectacular. Lee identified that the hood, indifferent from the pontoon fenders, sits decrease than the middle of the steering wheel. Certainly, it appears to vanish into the street like that of a mid-engined sports activities automobile.
If there’s one recurring theme within the Essentia, it is discount. Time and again, Donckerwolke and Lee referred to a resistance to exaggerating options, calling it a “self-discipline of discount.”
“The final 5 p.c is so essential,” Lee asserted. “Making a sports activities automobile sporty isn’t troublesome, however making it elegant is. Most vehicles are getting busier, however as a luxurious model we should stand the check of time reasonably than being stylish.”
“We spent a lot time taking away,” Donckerwolke recounted. “We do not need to create designs that may entice us. We do not need to create heritage artificially. The shortage of DNA isn’t a problem, however a chance.”
“At Bentley, we had a Bentley bible we needed to memorize,” Lee revealed. “There was 100 years of legacy in it. Every time you created a design, the very first thing you needed to ask was, ‘Is that this Bentley sufficient?'” Gesturing towards the Essentia, he continued. “Genesis has a Bible too, however in the meanwhile, it is empty.”
The truth that the Essentia is unlikely to be constructed is sort of tragic. Even when it did — Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald instructed Motor Pattern he is “pushing for it” — lots of its extra outrageous facets in all probability will not be potential to provide.
Nonetheless, if Donckerwolke and Lee’s imaginative and prescient can translate efficiently into manufacturing vehicles, it has the potential to rework the model. Take Mazda’s Kodo design language, which launched on the 2010 Shinari idea. It took almost a decade, nevertheless it has grown Mazda from a marque with middle-of-the-road designs to at least one that displays magnificence throughout the board.
Genesis hopes the Essentia will convey a few change as effectively, figuring out full effectively that it’s going to take time. “Continuity is essential,” Lee mentioned. “Evolving reasonably than altering. However ten years from now, individuals will look again on the Essentia and see how Genesis design began.”