The 45 Concept is a car you might not have guessed to have come from Hyundai, but it nonetheless charmed its way into becoming one of the more noteworthy entrants of the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show thanks in no small part to its retro-futuristic styling.
Its name carries deeper meaning, though, denoting the number of years that have past since Hyundai first rolled out the Pony, a small rear-driven hatch penned by Giugiaro which was South Korea’s first mass produced car, a milestone that proved the country’s industrial prowess to the world stage and the first domino to fall that lead to what is now one of the largest automotive companies on the planet.
Obviously, this concept car intends to focus on the five-door Pony instead of the 3-door coupe-like prototype by Italdesign. Additionally, the 45 moniker also serves as an angular theme, with most of the car’s exterior geometry meeting at a 45 degree angle. Clever. Further inspiration was taken from the aerodynamic lightweight aircrafts of the 1920s.
"As an icon of Hyundai, the 45 clearly reveals how Hyundai heads towards the future through heritage. Through the 45 built upon our design language 'Sensuous Sportiness', Hyundai wants to present our vision on how we want to reshape people's in-car lifestyle in the era of electrification and autonomous driving.” - SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and the Head of Hyundai Design Center
It’s also a far cry from the original Pony in terms of sheer size as well, though the nature of its hatchback shape does conceal this to an extent. In terms of scale, the 45 is more akin to a mid-size SUV with its high waistline and raised ride height, albeit somewhat lacking in overall length but generously wide.
The front and rear fascias are mostly void of distraction save for a panel of LED illuminators arranged width-ways, dynamically able to serve as headlights, turn signals, or used to telegraph some other message to those outside.
Instead of conventional doors, the entire cabin is made accessible through an electric sliding mechanism that essentially moves the entire two-piece panel away from each other. It’s very sci-fi, and it only gets more so as you step inside.
The interior is comprised of two rotatable ‘captain’s chair’ seats for the driver and front passenger, a very minimal dashboard with a total lack of control surfaces apart from a single curved touchscreen, some touch-sensitive buttons below, and a projection interface to the side. Second row occupants are served by a single couch-like bench with seatbelts on either side. This is strictly a four-seater, it seems.
The lounge-like layout and mixture of leather, textured fabric, wood panel inlays, and a glass roof hint at Hyundai’s aforementioned ambition toward fully autonomous self-driving cars. The 45 is even fitted with floor heating and cooling, among other amenities.
As you might have guessed, the 45 Concept is an EV, powered by a bank of floor-mounted lithium ion batteries that supply an electric motor of unknown position or output, though Hyundai says its powertrain is capable of long distance drive capability.