Hyundai’s Retro-Cool N Vision 74 Edges Closer To Production

Hyundai's popular N Vision 74 concept, based on the Pony Coupe prototype from 1974 is rumored to be entering production after a reported May 27 debut.

Hyundai could soon leap back into the sports car wars, and rumors were rampant this week that the N Vision 74 concept could soon debut in production trim. If that happens, Hyundai would join a segment where Chevy and Dodge are retrenching, and Ford, Nissan, and Toyota ride their existing horses as long as possible. Given that, it feels like a smart play for Hyundai to take a calculated risk and make the N Vision 74 real.

The electric concept uses a two-motor hybrid setup powered by hydrogen and electricity, and its neo-wedge design left enthusiasts wagging their tongues when it was revealed last July. It would cut through the clutter of today’s busy styling and bring something legitimately distinctive to the sports-car space. It is also possible for Hyundai to make the N Vision 74 a vehicle that is both higher-performing and lower-volume.

For it to be feasible, Hyundai has to drop hydrogen. Unless we take the company literally here, it’s reasonable to assume that this is just for illustration. Instead, Hyundai should make the N Vision 74 all-electric with the same powertrains the Ioniq 5 and 6 run, especially what will be in the Ioniq 5 N.

The N Vision 74 is also a rare opportunity for Hyundai to showcase its history, which is rare in the United States. The company legitimately has a concept car in its archives designed by the same guy who did the Delorean and BMW M1. Not everyone can say that. Actually, few can. Giugiaro’s design means something, and Giorgetto’s son is involved in the upcoming project. Hyundai has leaned on its Pony heritage in recent years, announcing plans to rebuild the concept last year in partnership with Giugiaro. The Pony concept influenced Hyundai’s design throughout the 1970s and ’80s, and some of its elements appeared in the rear-wheel-drive Pony hatchback. Hyundai also cites the concept’s lineage in its electric hatch, the Ioniq 5. The original 1974 concept was destroyed.

Hyundai has a well-received design and powertrain, so two key elements are in place. And as we’ve established, there’s an opportunity with the main competitors in what appears to be a holding pattern. But could Hyundai really pull it off?

There is precedent. Hyundai has done this before, and it worked well. The Genesis coupe (back when Genesis was still a Hyundai nameplate) was launched in 2010 when the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro were formidable. All three Detroit muscle cars improved for the rest of the decade. The Genesis coupe held its own for a few years, with a notchy six-speed manual, a spunky turbo four, and a powerful V6. It stuck around until 2016 and showed a sporty side to a company that had offered enthusiasts very little until that point. If the Hyundai of ‘08 could push ahead with a sports-car project, the much more evolved Hyundai of 2023 can, and should.

Risk is relative. A sports car is hardly a necessity these days. But an electric sports car is more than just a toy. It gets people excited about your brand and helps your image. Hyundai’s sibling brands have all taken similar risks, like the Stinger rear-wheel drive sedan, and Genesis’ ambitious strategy to embrace striking design and go all-in as a luxury maker, rather than playing the value card.

In this view, the greater risk is doing nothing. Hyundai has the design, both past and present. People like it. And if the N Vision 74 isn’t greenlit, well someone else is going to do something like it. There will be no shortage of electric sports cars in the coming years. It would be great if Hyundai made the N Vision 74 one of them.