Hyundai Motor America stages the world debut today of its HCD10 Hellion concept 3-door cross/utility vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

HMA Chief Designer Joel Piaskowski says the compact 2+2, all-wheel-drive Hellion is designed with an “individualist customer” in mind.

“Mindset and attitude are becoming the modern way to define new market segments, and we feel the Hellion concept will do that,” Piaskowski says, comparing the Hellion to a “sibling who is a bit mischievous and always outspoken.”

The Hellion rides on a 100.6-in. (256-cm) wheelbase, similar in size to the Hyundai Elantra sedan (104.3-in. [265 cm]). The concept is powered by a 3L V-6 common-rail diesel engine making 236 hp and 332 lb.-ft. (450 Nm) of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Technologies include electronic stability control, shift-by-wire transmission, wireless Internet, adaptive cruise control and a navigation system.

The Hellion utilizes three ultra-lightweight structural ribs connected to a suspended surfboard-shaped spine to form its ribcage, Hyundai says. This configuration protects occupants but also adds visual rigidity and shape.

Design cues include short overhangs, muscular wheel flares and two hooks, all of which are meant to suggest ruggedness and strength, Hyundai says.

The Hellion’s face, with a wide stance and dominant grille, hints at future Hyundai trucks, the auto maker says. A hood scoop, clamshell hood with exposed latches and a heavily raked windshield are other styling elements present on the Hellion.

There is a removable canvas soft-top roof, which in the show car wears a “subtle abstracted camouflage pattern” but can be personalized to suit the customer’s taste, Hyundai says.

Dakar Gold paint (front and rear bumpers sport a darker, wrinkle-finish paint) and 20-in. aluminum wheels also are featured.

The interior of the concept vehicle boasts such innovations as a drop-down, liquid-crystal-diode monitor for rear-seat passengers that is integrated into an overhead console running the vehicle’s length.

In keeping with the exterior look, the Hellion’s exterior ribs are visible inside and support the overhead console.

“The exterior is reflected throughout the interior, with stretched surfaces creating interesting negative forms contributing to the perception of space,” says Martin Frost, senior designer-Hyundai Design Center.

The Hellion’s four bucket seats are accented in the same camouflage pattern as the canvas roof. Glossy white accents and matte aluminum details contrast against the black Desert Night interior for what Hyundai calls “a crisp, modern look.”

Seat-mounted “gear packs” become backpacks when released via a push button, and hideaway drawers are located in front of each passenger for storage, emphasizing the Hellion’s utilitarian nature.

What can’t be found is a cupholder. Hyundai has replaced them with a hydration system to quench occupants’ thirst.

A removable, refillable reservoir is found inside each seat, Hyundai says. A pump-assisted flow tube attached to the seat allows the driver and passengers to replenish their fluids hands-free – a feature sure to please the California crowd.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com