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Matt Prior: unity is an odd concept

Autocar logo Autocar 18/01/2019 Matt Prior
a car driving on a road: Is Hyundai's Santa Cruz concept a sign of things to come? © Autocar Is Hyundai's Santa Cruz concept a sign of things to come?

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

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?

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a car driving down a country road © Provided by Haymarket Media Group

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.

a car on display © Provided by Haymarket Media Group 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. 

The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed in a video during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed in a video during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) 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. 

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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.

The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) 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. 

The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) The Hyundai Elevate, an 'Ultimate Mobility' concept vehicle, is displayed during the Hyundai press conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 7, 2019. - The 'walking car' is envisioned with articulating legs to traverse any terrain making it ideal for mobility for disabled persons as well as for emergency response in natural or manmade disasters. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) 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.

Gallery: The top colour choice of Britain’s best-selling cars right now [Motoring Research]

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