Hyundai has stretched the limits of its design department in recent months, but the Staria van it previewed in March 2021 blows the boundaries out of the stratosphere. Described by the brand as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), it looks like a concept from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but it's real and it's headed to production.
MPV is another term for minivan, and Hyundai designers didn't try to make the Staria hip by giving it SUV-like styling cues. It's a monobox model with a roofline that's tall and flat, and a rear end that's almost perfectly upright. Even the blacked-out images released by the firm can't conceal the Staria's head-turning front end, which is characterized by an LED light bar that stretches across the entire fascia and headlights positioned at about the same level as the wheels. They're integrated into an extra-wide grille with bright mesh inserts. Out back, the lights are made up of individual dots that look like pixels, a feature we've already seen on the Ioniq 5 introduced in February 2021.
Hyundai proudly pointed out that the Staria resembles a spaceship. It added that the model depicted in the images is the Premium variant, which is a high-end version of the standard Staria that hasn't been shown yet.
Oversized side windows let natural light into a cabin designed with comfort and technology in mind. The dashboard is dominated by a portrait-oriented touchscreen that replaces nearly all of the buttons and switches normally found on the center stack. Meanwhile, the rear passengers travel on individual seats with retractable footrests. Hyundai promises that the Staria will deliver new experiences for drivers and passengers, but it hasn't yet detailed what it means by that.
Similarly, it's too early for the company to reveal technical specifications, so we don't know if the spacecraft inspiration continues under the hood. Engineering principles dictate that a grille this big is needed to channel cooling air to an engine, but design trends have proven that's not always the case. Even EVs sometimes get giant grilles.
Hyundai didn't develop the Staria to meet up with NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars; the van isn't even an outlandish concept. What you see in the images above is what the South Korean brand will begin building in later in 2021. The model will be available in select global markets; time will tell if America is one of them.
Apple, is that you?
Reports linking Hyundai to Apple's on-again, off-again iCar project emerged in early 2021. It sounds like the deal is off, yet rumors claiming the Staria is somehow related to Apple's automotive ambitions began brewing shortly after the van was announced. While they're not entirely far-fetched, nothing suggests they're accurate — at least not yet.