A car's visual appeal is usually the most direct route to the customer's heart, but connectivity is growing in importance as a purchase consideration. Hyundai's aptly named Curb concept at this year's 2011 Detroit show has enough show, both inside and out, to satisfy both desires.
Penned with Generation Y in mind (what isn't these days?), the Hyundai Curb concept is an experimental "Urban Activity Vehicle" -- that's Hyundai's PR speak for an urban-focused compact crossover. It's the 12th signature concept vehicle drawn from the company's California Design Center, and shares the Tucson's 103.9-inch wheelbase, but it is shorter, narrower, and loses more than three inches of height to appease the younger consumer. Elements of Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture" design philosophy are obvious, especially in the boomerang trajectory design line on the flanks. A third rear door is grafted to the passenger side, a la the Veloster.
Curbside gawkers will notice the third door, and that the black A-pillars give the Curb a unique presence from the front and sides. Gargantuan concept-style 22-inch, five-spoke wheels aren't normally found on crossovers, let alone small ones, but this concept has them. The wheel spokes that latch to the Michelin tire sidewalls to exude a heartier profile. The thin headlights and taillights have been designed to look as though they're retreating into the body.
Like any good concept, there is plenty of one-off future-tech wizardry. Swipable touchpads open the doors and the rear hatch, eliminating the need for handles. The exhaust outlets can pop out to reveal a bike rack, and the roof has a pop-up roof rack. LED lighting is the new standard, and Shamze Custom Coatings placed the Curb name in the paint.
The Curb's interior is the party piece. Hyundai's all-new Blue Link telematics system is on board, allowing youngsters to connect to their Facebook pages and leaves an open path for future social media platforms. An engrossing acrylic touch screen sweeps from the driver's gauge cluster to the center stack and toward the back seats in a single continuous flow, like something in a sci-fi spaceship. Rear passengers can enjoy the monitors carved into the headrests, and Pandora Internet radio is available for occupants.
The steering wheel's opaque surface houses its own monitor for additional optical duties. A Reflective Heads-Up Display, sourced from auto supplier giant Continental, shows the navigation, vehicle diagnostics, downloaded apps, and feeds from the videophone and outboard cameras, which replace the Curb's side mirrors.
There's a host of saffron-colored accents inside, and the seats were kept extremely thin for packaging purposes. The rear seat slides back and forth, then folds flat when needed. The rear headrests are fixed to the headliner and can be stowed if necessary.
Turning the attention back to the young driver, a version of Hyundai's new Gamma 1.6-liter inline-four provides the Curb's motivation. The basic engine layout is shared with the Veloster, but the biggest Curb difference is forced induction, which should appeal to enthusiasts. The turbocharged four-banger outputs 175 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque. We wouldn't be surprised to find this engine make its way into the Veloster at some point.
The Curb also gets Hyundai's Idle Stop and Go, a technology slowly making its way into the U.S.-market vehicles. The Direct Shift Gearbox, a showy name for a twin-clutch automatic transmission, dispenses the Gamma's power to the tarmac.
Whether the Curb finds its way into production is anybody's guess. But the amount of technology that's being assimilated into cars nowadays is a given, whether we want it or not. Hopefully, Generation Y-ers remember to keep their eyes on the road.
| Hyundai Curb Concept |
| Base price || N/A |
| Vehicle layout || Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 3-door SUV |
| Engine || 1.6L/175-hp/169-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 |
| Transmission || 6-speed twin-clutch automatic |
| Curb weight (f/r dist) || 2800 lb (mfr) |
| Wheelbase || 103.9 in |
| Length x width x height || 164.2 x 70.9 x 63.0 in |
| 0-60 mph || N/A |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || Over 30/40 mpg (est) |
| CO2 emissions || 0.57 lb/mile (est) |
| On sale in the U.S. || N/A |