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Hyundai confirms interest in coupe-SUV models

The carmaker's Intrado concept from 2014 provides a hint at what a future Hyundai coupe-style SUV may look like.

Hyundai Motor Europe (HME) design boss Thomas Burkle has suggested that coupe-SUVs are on the way from the Korean company, with these new models set to ride the sales momentum of their stylish forebears like the BMW X6.

The German-born Mr Burkle is a former BMW executive and was intimately involved in the X6 design process, which adds to his belief that such a vehicle would provide further sales success for Hyundai.

"Definitely it's very interesting to open the door for body variants in the SUV segment. (BMW) X6, of course, I know the whole history of that car and I think we will see a bandwidth of cars in the SUV segment as well because it is a growing segment," he said.

"But let's say with the (i30) fastback it's some kind of a starting point to new body variants that are more on the emotional side, where Hyundai is known as a practical car, this is a new step and if it goes well we will build on that."

Plans have recently been announced by the brand to add coupe-like two-door body style to its just-launched third-generation i30 small car, which will effectively replace the outgoing second-gen three-door hatchback that was sold in Australia briefly.

Mr Burkle explained that Hyundai customers are increasing in their affluence, which has led the carmaker to start marketing the top-spec versions of its vehicles more than ever. This change will first be seen with the i30 before later being applied to the SUV segment.

"It is of course a success story if people buy the higher versions, it means they open their wallets and are really excited about the cars, not just to buy a cheap transportation device," he said.

"We have overcome this situation already and we know our customer base has a solid income, so we want to offer a more exciting range. For the company this really is a new stage now."

The company is set to launch its Kona small SUV imminently, which will help expand Hyundai's high-riding line-up beyond the existing mid-size Tucson and large Santa Fe models.

According to Mr Burkle, a coupe-style version of one of the larger SUVs would make the most sense as a starting point.

"I could imagine in many segments a coupe (SUV) version but we have to see the ratio of body size, of wheel size, of length, of rear overhang and so on," he said.

"You need for a coupe profile a certain length, and you need the ratio of height and length. We talk a lot about proportion and this is also something new, we never talked so much about proportion in the past. So now before we start making some sketches we start discussing what is the wheelbase, what is the height, what is the width of the car.

"For us, the early phase before we really sharpen the pencil is extremely important."

However, Mr Burkle admitted that anything is possible at this stage, which suggests it will be a wait-and-see process.

Hyundai's luxury-sports sub-brand, Genesis, will launch at least two new SUV models before 2020, which paves the way for even more coupe-inspired variants.

Would a coupe-style SUV help Hyundai shed its 'practical car' brand image? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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