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Genesis NeoLune Concept Debuts Alongside Magma Performance Brand

One year after it showed off the bright orange GV80 coupe concept at last year's New York International Auto Show, Genesis is back with a whole performance-oriented sub-brand, as well as a vision of the future for its electrified models. The orange paint of that first concept was no accident, as Genesis today showed off no fewer than three additional concepts in the hue, as well as an incredibly polished full-size SUV that points the way forward for a Genesis-branded battery-electric three-row crossover.

Genesis is calling its new sub-brand Magma, and, yes, you can do the Dr. Evil air quotes here. Along with last year's GV80 concept, the company also showed off two concepts that are essentially production ready, and a racing coupe that's available for ownership in digital form – as a download for the Gran Turismo racing game.

Let the Magma Flow

The most direct line drawn from the GV80 coupe concept is the G80 Magma Special, a limited edition widebody model of Genesis' executive sedan. The powertrain remains the same twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6, and there's no hint that there will be more power under the hood. However, the Magma treatment widens the car by an inch on each side, kits it out with four Recaro hard-shell seats, and adds a number of aerodynamic enhancements and sticky Michelin tires. The bad news is that, thus far, the G80 Magma is limited to Middle East markets only.

Also unavailable in physical form in North America is the X Gran Berlinetta concept, which represents what the Genesis design team can do when unfettered by pesky production requirements. The powertrain is imagined as a V6 hybrid with an 11,000-rpm redline, producing nearly 1,100 hp. But of course, this physical model is not intended for more than display purposes only, though you can download one and race it around a virtual course.

Perhaps most importantly, and with a surprise twist in store, was the reveal of the Genesis GV60 Magma. Based on the company's current five-seat EV, this performance-oriented version features a full aerodynamics package that extends to turbine-look wheels, roof-mounted aerodynamic vanes, and huge spoilers front and rear. The brakes also have been upgraded, and the GV60 Magma is equipped with high-performance tires just like the rest of the concepts on display. As an added bonus, Genesis trotted out new brand ambassador Jacky Ickx, six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and revealed that they'd had him behind the wheel of a prototype car for lapping.

Ickx is most commonly associated with Porsche, with whom he won four of his six Le Mans titles. The tie-in seems to come with a shared Belgian heritage with Genesis Chief Creative Officer Luc Donckerwolke, who also happens to be an ardent Porsche motorsport fan. The latter grew up reading about Ickx's racing exploits in the Michel Vaillant graphic stories, a staple of the Tintin magazine of Donckerwolke's youth. The fictional Vaillant was often portrayed alongside real racers like Ickx and Gilles Villeneuve, and became part of the designer's obsession with cars.

While it's unlikely that the turbine-style wheel trims would make it to a production GV60, Genesis does already have the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N or Kia EV6 GT to draw inspiration from. I'd expect to see a treatment that is less hardcore than the former, as Donckerwolke said he wasn't looking to operate outside the Genesis brand's envelope, but rather to broaden its emotional appeal.

Either way, the first Magma-hot Genesis you'll be able to get your hands on is almost certainly this new GV60, with its upgraded sport-oriented interior, widened track and lowered suspension, bigger brakes, and rally-style performance feel. Given how good Korea's other performance EVs are these days, hopes are high.

That's No Moon

Next, Genesis Head of Design SangYup Lee pivoted from brightly coloured performance vehicles to a crossover concept that is probably far more important to the company's future overall. Dubbed the NeoLune concept, for Full Moon, it's a full-sized EV that, while shown off with executive-style seating, could easily be a hint at the next three-row crossover for the Genesis brand.

If the Magma brand was looking to steal a march on BMW's M to some degree, then the NeoLune is Genesis dunking on Mercedes. The huge 24-inch wheels are a twist on the AMG monoblock look, and while the silhouette of the NeoLune is just as aerodynamic-looking as the EQS crossover, it's more handsome and well-resolved.

Lee indicated the inspiration for the NeoLune was Korea's Joeseon dynasty moon jars, part of the country's porcelain heritage. Everything that has can be smoothed away has been polished, and even the rear badge is flush to the skin of the vehicle. A complete lack of door handles is unlikely to make it to production, but everything else isn't far off what Genesis is already capable of. Even the motorized flush-mounting roof rails could be a production feature.

Inside, the NeoLune gets screens that deploy for all to watch, a rotating captain's chair up front, and a rotary gearshift that turns into a speaker. Instead of traditional air vents, it also gets heated seating and flooring surfaces. I'd expect these to be neat party tricks that possibly get left on the cutting floor.

But the NeoLune's overall less-is-more approach is an ideal riposte to the fake grilles and over-styled surfaces that plague the luxury segment of late, and it feels fresh and clean. Genesis' signature twin-line lighting carries most of the signature look, and without excessive adornment, this full-size SUV looks elegant.

The Future of Genesis

Given that it took just one year for Genesis to go from orange-hued concept to a range of production ready vehicles in a whole new sub-brand, the expectation that the NeoLune could be a production machine soon isn't an outlandish speculation. And, in the meantime, the Magma sub-brand gives performance enthusiasts something to get excited about.

Establishing a new luxury brand was predicted to be an uphill battle for Genesis when it first launched a little over eight years ago. But with one million vehicles sold, the momentum is on their side. Hot Magma or cool lunar light – Genesis has a glow about it these days, and the future looks bright.