I’m so conditioned to watching head-turning concepts be distilled and softened on the way to production that it’s hard to get excited when a manufacturer announces plans to mass-produce a show car. But Hyundai’s just teased the Ioniq 5 — the production version of its Hyundai 45 concept from 2019 — and I think this is one of those rare cases where enthusiasm is justified. Because this thing already looks amazing.
Hyundai released three images and a few short teaser videos of people camping with the Ioniq 5, of all things. It’s clear, even from these limited snippets, that the electric crossover will stay pretty consistent with the concept that inspired it.
The 45's gem-sharp edges and pseudo-flat surfacing are still very much present here, though it looks like the volumetric pixel design of the headlights and taillights won’t make it to production. That’s a shame — I was really looking forward to the Ioniq 5 heralding the era of voxel lights in car design. Flat pixels were so 2020.
Of course, we can’t see a side view of the Ioniq 5 in Hyundai’s initial drop, but the front and rear portend good things, even if I’m not sure how I feel about those textured wheel arches.
The Ioniq 5, like the 45 concept, pays tribute to Hyundai’s first car — the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Pony from the mid-’70s. The combination of the thick, angled C-pillar and the intersecting slab motif lent an old-school hatch vibe to the 45, and I really like it. Hyundai’s evidently found a way to pen a distinctive-looking electric crossover. Taking a gander at the current state of things, that’s apparently much easier said than done.
The company’s design department is on a roll. Aside from the 45, Hyundai also delivered the Prophecy concept last year. The Prophecy couldn’t be more different from the 45 or Ioniq 5 — Hyundai describes its aesthetic as that of a “weathered stone” — but it’s unquestionably gorgeous all the same, with a back end that looks almost like a Porsche 911 cyberpunk restomod and headlights that vaguely call to mind Hyundai’s turn-of-the-millennium HCD concepts.
And the best part? Hyundai plans to build that one, too. In June, SangYup Lee, the carmaker’s design chief, told Autocar that the consistency between the 45 concept and the then-unnamed Ioniq 5 would carry over to the Prophecy’s production counterpart as well:
“The show car is a very serious concept,” said Lee. “It’s not a concept that’s never going to make production. That’s how we like to start. I’m quite happy how close the production version is to the show car, and the same thing applies for the Prophecy, too.”
With just about every manufacturer obsessed with coining a corporate face and striving for predictable, tedious design consistency across their entire fleet, I can’t overstate how refreshing it is to see Hyundai forge this path of making wildly unique cars. The familial link between the 45 and Prophecy is that they look phenomenal, not that they’re stretched or squeezed carbon copies of each other — and that’s the way it should be.
The Ioniq 5 is planned to fully debut next month. I can’t wait.