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Seoul Motor Show 2005 - Highlights
 What we've seen • Our photos and comment


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May 2, 2005 – While it has taken nearly six years for the domestic and foreign manufacturers to come together, the 2005 Seoul Motor Show was finally at full strength, when it opened on April 30. From 1999 to 2002, the Seoul Motor Show featured only the domestic Korean manufacturers, with foreign brands holding their own show at a different time. This year the internationally-sanctioned show has attracted all the major automotive brands, with 33 manufacturers from 10 countries participating.

GM Daewoo T2X concept

GM Daewoo showcased one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the show, the T2X concept. This crossover utility vehicle shares the same platform as the Chevrolet S3X concept. However with shorter overhangs front and rear, T2X is the 'little brother' to the S3X. With a solid stance, and bold 'European' lines and surfaces, GM is making clear that its master plan of pushing Chevrolet deep in to the European market is indeed serious, and with T2X, it is looks likely that they might have some success with it.

The unique front and rear air-intake detail under the lamps is familiar from the GMC Graphyte and GM Sequel, and while the bold wheel arches, 20-inch low-profile tires, and a fast A-pillar creating a dynamic profile is unmistakably conceptual, sources claim that GM management is so impressed with the result they are seriously considering getting T2X into production very soon.

Even though there is a lot to be resolved before the T2X can start rolling off the production line, it appears GM Daewoo's Design Center – with the likes of the Matiz and S3X concept – is taking a bigger role in developing GM's global image.


Ssangyong XMT, XCT concepts

While the Ssangyong brand may be obscure to many outside Asia, it has built a reputation as a sports off-roader specialist in recent years with models such as the Korando, Musso and Rexton. And at Seoul, three of the four concept vehicles they have showcased are an SUV, crossover, and a pickup derivative.

One of the concepts released at the show is XMT, an SUV-pickup crossover, which was designed to attract the interest of the younger generation wanting to differentiate themselves from others. Using the platform of the highly successful Korando SUV, XMT's triangular headlamps and large front grille shows toughness and even a slightly 'unrefined' look to the vehicle. The overall proportion is dominated by large 18inch wheels and even larger tires. However, like the Kia Mesa concept, large wheels don't necessarily enhance the stance of the vehicle. With sudden surface breaks appearing from nowhere and fading out around the body wide line and the rear fender, the overall impression appears dramatic but a little unrefined.

Proto Spirra

While most of the attention was surrounding the larger manufacturers, the Seoul Motor Show is also a place for smaller independent firms to showcase their design and engineering skills. One of those is an independent manufacturer Proto, which released what they claim to be the very first Korean Supercar, named Spirra.

This mid-engine two-seater will be produced in two versions, V8 4.6 GT and 2.5 LX. With its Porsche platform and Koenisegg V8 4.6-litre engine, Proto claims that Spirra has a 0-100km/h of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 305km.

Slightly outdated in terms of styling with rather flat surfaces all around and a boxy appearance, Spirra has the somewhat dubious distinction of having to go through a facelift even before the shipment of its first car to the customer, due to financial difficulties which delayed the launch. Proto are planning to hand-build 30 vehicles per month, and while the specification of the Spirra is definitely impressive, we will see in the near future what the customers think of a price of US$90,000 for the top of the range, V8 4.6 GT.

Hyundai Portico

Concieved and developed at the Hyundai Advanced Design studio at Nam-yang, South Korea, Portico is a six-seater MPV-crossover, with a distinctive Korean design language.

With long sweeping lines and soft curvature all around, Portico's overall form gives a distinctive 'feminine look'. It displays an unbroken beltline highlighted by a brushed-aluminum molding, with minimal disruption of the side surfaces, with just one surface undercut breaking the large and simple side panel. This styling cue is repeated around the vehicle with backlight, door shutlines, and front grille all following the theme.

Even the choice of body colour – similar to that of Korean traditional porcelain – and the treads of the tire show the flowing, gentle curvature of Korean styling architecture. While in its overall form the Portico appears very 'soft' with virtually no tension, the supporting details with sharp wedges, particularly around the bodyside shoulder, headlights and the rear mask finely balance the form.

Ssangyong Chairman Limousine

Long just got even longer. As one of Korea's largest and the most prestigous sedans, the Ssangyong Chairman Limousine concept was on display at the show, attracting the most interest not from the Korean domestic press, but of neighboring China. This is due to the fact that ever since the takeover of Ssangyong by the Shanghai Automotive Group, it has been concentrating in developing numerous projects for the Chinese parent company, and it looks as if this concept's production future will be decided by the level of positive response from SAIG management.

Sitting on an old Mercedes-Benz S-class stretched platform, the interior styling of the Chairman Limousine displays a 'mobile office' interior, with the second row of seats being completely separated from the front row, a wine cooler/stand, dual television screens among numerous options to give the passengers utmost comfort.

Exterior styling is gentle at best, but the concept is much more refined than the normal production version with subtle chrome details enhancing the luxurious feel.

Hyundai Grandeur TG

This car had its world premiere in Geneva and North American debut in New York, but the Grandeur TG's release in Korea has a lot more meaning to everyone in Korea – motoring enthusiasts and consumers alike – because the Grandeur, now in its third generation, has always been linked with the word 'luxury'. First released in Korea in 1986 by assembling the Mitsubishi Debonair, the Grandeur was the first ever domestic brand luxury car.

Now known better as TG, Grandeur was attracting a huge amount of interest domestically, with lavish fashion shows and a lengthy promotional video on display. With Hyundai's plan to move up in the market positioning in the near future, success of TG on both domestic and foreign market will be the key to company's long term success.


© 2005 Car Design News Ltd
Last updated: Tue, May 3, 2005