SEOUL – Peter Schreyer, who was so successful as Kia’s design boss that he was recently promoted to president of design at both Hyundai and Kia, says the two brands still are working on their future positioning and image.

“It is a challenge to separate the two,” he tells WardsAuto. “We’re talking about how to define and strengthen both brands. Kia is younger, sporty and fresher, while Hyundai is more elegant, on the classical side. We need a strong direction for both.”

He follows with some veiled criticism, remarkable in a Korean company and a clear indication of the German designer’s authority within Hyundai-Kia.

“Hyundai has done some spectacular design that’s very successful, quite daring,” Schreyer says. “The way that it has been exaggerated went a little bit over the top. It needs to be refined, but not a 180-degree turn.”

The first Hyundai influenced by Schreyer is the Venace (HND-9) unveiled at the recent Seoul auto show. Forget the butterfly doors, and what you see is what you’ll get in next year’s production successor to the Genesis Coupe.

In the words of one senior executive, the Venace concept is “very close” to the new Genesis coupe and reveals a strong move away from Hyundai’s Fluidic “surface entertainment” style to a cleaner design language.

Designed in Korea by 29-year old Ukrainian-born, U.S.-educated Mykola Kindratyshn, the Venace emphasizes its rear-drive layout with a long, 113-in. (287-cm) wheelbase, short overhangs, long hood and dash-to-axle ratio.

With far simpler body surfaces and volumes, rather than relying on Fluidic’s dramatic graphics and exaggerated crease lines, Venace’s dramatic styling could come from an Aston Martin, rather than an affordable Korean coupe, and is a clear pointer to look of future Hyundais.

“We want to use the Venace’s exterior elements, the soft volumes without aggressive lines, in the future,” reveals Kindratyshn, who says the clean look was being developed before Schreyer was involved, although he admits the on-off program was influenced by the German designer.

“The look has a lot of potential for future models,” says Schreyer. “It shows we are not stagnating and see the future in a simpler way.”