Interview: John Krsteski, Hyundai Genesis Chief Designer luxury cars hyundai auto brands auto shows 2014toronto 2014 auto shows
2015 Hyundai Genesis-John Krsteski Interview. Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

The Hyundai Genesis was a bold move upmarket by Hyundai when it launched in 2008, squarely targeting the luxury sedan market with rear-wheel drive and V8 power, but its styling was derivative and soft. Not so this time around, with a dominant, bold grille and heroic proportions, and another level of luxury on the inside to challenge traditional premium brands. We sat down with the man behind the design, John Krsteski, Design Manager with Hyundai Design North America working out of Hyundai’s Irvine, California design studio, to ask him about the Genesis design and Hyundai’s aspirations.

What were your design influences that inspired the Genesis sedan styling?

From a design inspiration standpoint we really wanted to push the elegance of the car. One of the things we were heavily inspired by was knowing the sleek and sheer profile we have in our current cars. We didn’t want to lose that, we wanted to push and see if we could put that into such a big vehicle. And we did that with the proportions and the overall profile of the car. We were able to get the canopy as far back onto the body of the car as possible. So the proportions were the biggest thing we wanted to establish and get the car to feel as sleek as possible.

Interview: John Krsteski, Hyundai Genesis Chief Designer luxury cars hyundai auto brands auto shows 2014toronto 2014 auto shows
Interview: John Krsteski, Hyundai Genesis Chief Designer luxury cars hyundai auto brands auto shows 2014toronto 2014 auto shows
Interview: John Krsteski, Hyundai Genesis Chief Designer luxury cars hyundai auto brands auto shows 2014toronto 2014 auto shows
2015 Hyundai Genesis-John Krsteski Interview. Click image to enlarge

What is the importance of the Genesis to Hyundai, which demographic are you targeting?

Ideally we’re going after the younger, more affluent buyers. The ones that are certainly not afraid to go in an untraditional direction. We certainly pushed the modern, premium aspect of the car to cater to those types of buyers, and then with the identity of the car we pushed to establish a really strong presence with the front grille and start building some equity into the Genesis lineup.

What identity where you trying to express with the grille?

It’s goes back to the “modern premium”, which is part of our Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. The grille architecture itself comes from, if you take a look at our SUV lineup it has a hexagon grille. Even the Elantra has a hexagon grille but then the Sonata has a wing-type grill. So it’s really the birth of fusing those together to form a new hexagon grille that is native to the Genesis cars.

How does Genesis reflect Hyundai’s future design direction?

A lot of it can come from the design vocabulary of this car. A lot of the lines of the car are going to become more precise. There is a lot more tension in the lines and a sense of direction, which is part of our Fluidic Sculpture 2.0.

What are your favourite elements of the design?

I think the overall proportion and stance. From a design standpoint you can do a lot of different things to a car but if it doesn’t have the right proportions and stance it’s always going to have a bit of weakness to it. This car, based on the engineering and architecture that was given to us to work with, was really kind of a dream for us.

To me it has a certain expression of cars from a previous era, like Packards from the 30s and 40s. Were there any specific cars you looked at, since Hyundai’s history doesn’t really date that far back?

I don’t know if there are any cars in history, but one of the things we pushed for was to get as much wheelbase as possible. To really stretch that wheelbase out to allow us to get the cabin to feel like it sits rearward and getting the front and rear overhangs as short as possible. That gives you that really nice long hood on the car as well.

Interview: John Krsteski, Hyundai Genesis Chief Designer luxury cars hyundai auto brands auto shows 2014toronto 2014 auto shows
2015 Hyundai Genesis-John Krsteski Interview. Click image to enlarge

Are you looking to unseat anyone in particular?

Not to unseat, no. But we wanted to leapfrog the Genesis from where it is with the current model. I think we’ve done plenty of examples. For example the Sonata, where we leapfrogged forward from where we were, and I think the Elantra is an example, too. So this current Genesis, though it was a competent design, it didn’t polarize anybody either. So with this design we weren’t going out to polarize people, but we did want to make a statement.

With Peter Schreyer taking on more of a role with Hyundai, and not just Kia alone, what influence did he have on the Genesis?

We work with Peter today, and he’s visited our studio quite a few times, but this car was already developed. But from conversations I know he is pleased with the car.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.