Santro design will influence other, global Hyundai cars: Sy Lee, President & Head of Hyundai Styling

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Updated: October 29, 2018 1:40:29 PM

SY Lee, the president & head of Hyundai Styling, has worked on brands such as Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette, and Bentley Bentayga and Mulsanne, which have no similarity with the Santro—the first Hyundai car he has designed.

Santro design, global Hyundai cars, Sy Lee,  Hyundai Styling, VolkswagenSY Lee, the president & head of Hyundai Styling.

SY Lee, the president & head of Hyundai Styling, has worked on brands such as Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette, and Bentley Bentayga and Mulsanne, which have no similarity with the Santro—the first Hyundai car he has designed. His team travelled to India in May 2015, to study what kind of design needs to be developed for the new Santro. “Designing a car for a family of five, keeping in mind their every need, is not easy,” Lee says. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that designing a compact family car is far more difficult than designing a sports car. Excerpts:

Why did you retain the tallboy stance?

The biggest purchase reason for customers in India is exterior styling. So we had to design the Santro in a way that its tallboy stance remains, and exterior styling reflects the taste of modern customers. Designing a car for a family of five, keeping their every need in mind, is not easy. It’s more difficult than designing, say, a Ferrari.

What is the major exterior design change?

We found that, in Indian road conditions, fog-lamps were susceptible to damage, by hitting raised objects on roads. So we raised their height. We used a wide grille, from extreme left to right—this makes the car look bigger than it is. On the sides, we added ‘boomerang lines’—in this segment, all cars have a clean body side; these ‘lines’ make the Santro look unique.

Was it tough to design the cabin?

We kept Indian culture in mind. We have included a platform on the dashboard for families to place, say, idols. For Indian summers, we have added rear AC vents. The dashboard is inspired by the face of an elephant.

Which Hyundai car was used as a benchmark to design the new Santro?

It’s the other way round. The Santro has been developed for the Indian market, so we have spent a lot of time on design-research, and are in a position to make a statement, using this car, to influence other, global Hyundai cars.

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