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Something old, something new: Hyundai and BMW concepts wow Villa d’Este crowds

by Antony Ingram
22 May 2023 2 min read
Something old, something new: Hyundai and BMW concepts wow Villa d’Este crowds
Photos: BMW, Hyundai

If ever there was a sign that the automotive industry has been flipped on its head over the last few decades, it’s the response cars from Hyundai and BMW seem to get these days.

So long seen as purveyors of white goods, Hyundai (and sister brands Kia and Genesis) can seemingly do no wrong, consistently turning out desirable hot hatchbacks, electric cars, and luxury models, while BMW, one of the most storied and enthusiast-driven brands, has frequently shocked us in all the wrong ways with misshapen SUVs and beaver-toothed grilles.

So it’s interesting that it was both a backward-looking car from the company with little heritage, and a forward-looking one from one with no shortage of it, that drew the most attention at the weekend’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy.

Hyundai’s offering came straight from the desk of Giorgetto Giugiaro. He penned 1974’s Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept for the Turin Motor Show that year. As you’ll probably know, given a general absence of wedge-shaped Korean cars at classic shows, the car never made it as far as production, while the production Pony didn’t quite share the concept’s sharp detailing or balanced proportions.

Yet it was a striking statement from a company that few had heard of in the 1970s, and now that everyone has heard of Hyundai, and the brand is a design leader in its own right, there’s no better time to have restored and displayed it once again – particularly with rumours flying around that 2022’s N Vision 74 concept, inspired by the Pony, may yet hit the road.

BMW, meanwhile, unveiled the Concept Touring Coupé at Villa d’Este, a hand-crafted shooting brake take on the current Z4 roadster. Think of it as 2023’s answer to the old Z3 Coupé or BMW 02 Touring models, but brought bang up to date with more dramatic proportions and detailing, and a striking ‘Sparkling Lario’ exterior paint shade, which varies between grey and brown in the light, enhanced by flakes of blue glass embedded in the paint.

About those dramatic proportions: we reckon it’s at once one of the best-looking cars BMW has shown in years, but also far from perfect. That’s probably the fault of the Z4 underneath, which has donated not just its platform but also its enormous front overhang. A bit more glass to the rear quarter windows would also be nice, both to balance out the shape and to afford the driver a little more over-the-shoulder vision.

Still, it’s refreshing to see BMW still tackling proper sports cars, with BMW head of design, Domagoj Dukec, saying “A highly emotional vehicle like this shows that the passion for everything that goes into driving pleasure has been essential through the ages and will be for the future.”

Will BMW build it? Who knows, but both Z3 and the original Z4 got closed-roof variants during their runs, and the Concept Touring Coupé doesn’t appear too outlandish in its detailing either outside or in, so we hope Munich at least considers it. BMW’s still got plenty of life left in it, and Hyundai is apparently only just beginning.

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