Matt Prior

What con­cepts tell us about the fu­ture

Autocar - - CONTENTS - Matt Prior

Their fingers are so far ahead of the pulse that they know when new rhythms will be­gin

Is it me, or has 2019 ar­rived sound­ing a rec­on­cil­ia­tory tone? I don’t think it’s un­fair to say that 2018 was ‘a bit fighty’, but the new year’s news­pa­per opin­ion columns, at least, seem to me to have a more sym­pa­thetic, un­der­stand­ing lilt to them; as if we are all, whether we like it or not, blood­ied pugilists who, tired and bro­ken, look across from our prone po­si­tions on the mat and think: ‘Didn’t we used to like each other? Didn’t we used to have more dig­nity in our dis­cus­sions? Hon­estly, what’s the point of all this?’

Or per­haps it’s that, when I write, it’s still, tech­ni­cally, Christ­mas (di­ary, day 11: sherry stocks are run­ning dan­ger­ously low and the cat and I are eye­ing each other sus­pi­ciously over the last few scraps of ham; please send help). This is a time that tra­di­tion­ally teaches us it’s pos­si­ble not just to get on with but also to love those who we have mi­nor dis­agree­ments with be­cause, frankly, there’s more to life, and get­ting on with each other is more im­por­tant.

This year al­ready feels more un­der­stand­ing, more nu­anced, like things haven’t since, well, I don’t know ex­actly, but let’s call it 2016.

If only, though, there were a more re­li­able met­ric than just catch­ing a whiff of a pos­i­tive mood in the air, to af­firm my new-found sense of op­ti­mism.

For­tu­nately, there is. There is an en­tire sub-in­dus­try ded­i­cated to it. Wel­come to the world of the con­cept car.

There are de­part­ments within car com­pa­nies whose sole aim is to study the fu­ture and then de­sign cars that will sell in it. These they show to us first in the form of con­cept cars, imag­ined and crafted by those who have their de­sign­ery fingers not just on the pulse of cur­rent mood but also so far ahead of the pulse that they know when new rhythms will be­gin and when old ones will beat their last.

These cars are often bold, shock­ing, rev­e­la­tory, and the South Korean com­pany Hyundai is quite good at mak­ing them. Hyundai re­vealed sporty con­cept cars long be­fore we were pre­pared to ac­cept it was ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing what is (and I won’t be told oth­er­wise, no mat­ter how con­cil­ia­tory you are) the best mid-sized hot hatch­back on the mar­ket to­day. Its Santa Cruz pick-up truck con­cept is ar­riv­ing in pro­duc­tion form “as soon as pos­si­ble” to cap­ture the rugged, can-do spirit of those who feel we are prep­ping for an, as yet, un­de­fined some­thing.

But now, thanks to Hyundai again, that some­thing is clear. And, oh boy, does it not look good.

Be­hold the El­e­vate, Hyundai’s long-legged con­cept car from the CES ex­hi­bi­tion in Las Ve­gas, a “to­tally new” con­cept that will “take peo­ple where no ve­hi­cle has been be­fore”. Hmm. They say that, but I’ve seen places like where it thinks it’ll go. In The Ter­mi­na­tor. CGI im­ages of the El­e­vate show it travers­ing what could, per­haps, be a dis­as­ter zone, but could also very eas­ily be the skulls of our en­e­mies and, ei­ther way, it looks en­tirely like a world torn asun­der. Ter­rific.

Re­mem­ber, these are peo­ple with form. We’ve seen the fu­ture, and it is dark. Per­haps 2019, and be­yond, won’t be so con­cil­ia­tory af­ter all. Ho hum.

Hyundai’s El­e­vate would walk tall: is this the fu­ture?

Pick-up con­cept is set for pro­duc­tion

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