North American Int’l Auto ShowDETROIT – Hyundai Motor America unveils the HCD9 Talus concept car here today at the North American International Auto Show.

The vehicle is a rear-wheel-drive, 2+2 sports car/SUV hybrid that HMA design chief Joel Piaskowski says is “for a person who has grown accustomed to the needs and benefits of an SUV but desires the emotional gratification of sports car styling and performance.”

Piaskowski says Hyundai approached the Talus with the mission to design a vehicle for those who, up until now, could not justify parking a sports car in their garage.

The HCD9 Talus is powered by a 4.6L V-8 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, providing the ability to perform like a typical all-wheel-drive SUV. However, AWD is optional.

Hyundai HCD9 Talus concept

Standard features include electronic stability control, night vision, shift-by-wire transmission, wireless Internet and adaptive cruise control.

“Unlike a traditional sporty coupe, Talus can traverse steep driveways, potholes or 2-track access roads, thanks to its increased ground clearance,” Hyundai says.

The HCD9 Talus takes its design cues from the new ’07 Santa Fe cross/utility vehicle, sporting a similarly “assertive” front grille, headlamps and bodyside feature lines, Hyundai says. (See related story: Hyundai Unveils New Santa Fe in Detroit)

Also present is an arcing roofline and tapering greenhouse that play up the vehicle’s wide, sporty stance. The concept rides on aluminum 22-in. deep-dish 5-spoke wheels.

Another interesting design cue is the absence of a traditional B-pillar, as the cabin opening is supported by front-hinged doors and rear-hinged jump doors. A solenoid door release is integrated in the B-pillar (rear doors) allowing for a clean bodyside.

An undulating beltline, which increases driver and passenger visibility, is a prominent styling feature.

The rear hatch opens clamshell-style, and there are dual exhaust tips integrated into the rear fascia, creating an effect identical to the design theme of the front fog lights.

The HCD9 Talus’ paint is Molten Red metallic complemented by Cinder Black ground effects.

Inside, Hyundai uses cascading metallic trim on the center console and blue light-emitting diodes for “a harmonious ambience throughout the interior day or night” to give it the look and feel of a luxury car.

“We wanted to push the expectations of the sports car interior by injecting as many luxury cues as possible,” says Dragan Vukadinovic, senior creative designer. “The center console was designed to be visually alluring while providing all the practical functions a driver expects.”

Hyundai says the center stack design is reminiscent of “a jeweled pendant hanging from a necklace.” A 10-in. (25-cm) liquid crystal display monitor, air vents and clock capable of displaying the time in three different time zones is hidden by a retractable hood defined by a necklace graphic.

Two control knobs that give the appearance of being suspended are supposed to be the “jeweled pendant,” says Hyundai.

Seating material is Sierra Brown and Black Chestnut leather, giving the interior the “warm affluence of a western lodge,” while the metallic finishes evoke technology.

Rear seats fold flat, and there is covered storage space beneath the typical load floor, Hyundai says.