top of page

1998 Hyundai Avatar

The Hyundai Avatar, a show car now appearing at major auto shows, offers a look at what Hyundai Motor America sees as major styling trends for the most popular type of car in America, the mid-size sedan.


“Sedan owners are looking for safety, security, good styling, and a higher level of performance, but all of this must be in a package that is eminently practical,” says Hyundai Product Planning Manager Jim Park. “The Avatar is a vehicle that is mechanically sophisticated and makes a strong styling statement, but within the bounds of what practical-minded owners expect,” he states.


The Avatar stands out because of the strong character lines over the front and rear wheel openings. While more subdued than in the Hyundai Tiburon, these character lines give the car a family resemblance to its sportier sibling. Hyundai designers feel that mid-size sedan buyers, while concerned about practicality and still seeking relatively conservative styling, are beginning to seek out vehicles that have more personality than in past years. Thus, design elements such as these character lines, which give the Avatar a more aggressive appearance than the typical sedan of today, will be a trend that will be more popular in the future.


In line with the trend toward more distinctive sedans, the Avatar has a dramatic frontal look, with large headlights pushed to the vehicle's corners, emphasizing the car’s size and presence. The bright, bold vertical bar grille highlights the car's front, with the lines of the hood flowing smoothly into the bumper while focusing the eye on the dominant grille. The car is slightly larger in interior and exterior dimensions than Hyundai’s current mid-size sedan, the Sonata.


The five-spoke alloy wheels of the Avatar have a subtle shaping along the inside circumference. The understated twist in this area adds a sense of motion even when the car is standing still. At the rear of the Avatar, a high trunk lid serves as a visual cue to the spacious trunk underneath. The rise up at the back end of the trunk provides the look of a rear spoiler, in keeping with the overall sporty sedan tone of the vehicle. Large rear tail lamps offer a safety benefit and echo the strong placement of the headlights at the front.


Hyundai designers believe that the movement that places top importance on ergonomics in a sedan’s interior will continue to dominate. However, there will be a trend toward placing ergonomics within a more interesting design framework. Inside the Avatar, the front cabin design stems from an architectural approach with a strong horizontal, almost wall-like dashboard divided by a vertical element that holds the radio, heating and air conditioning, and other controls. The interior forms are crisp and distinct, in line with the vehicle’s crisp exterior edges.


In terms of vehicle performance, there has been a growing trend toward more mechanically sophisticated automobiles with handling capabilities that were previously found only in upscale, luxury, and sporting sedans. To meet the needs of drivers with higher performance expectations, the Avatar is built on a chassis with a high torsional rigidity, which has several benefits. When combined with the double wishbone-type front suspension, a very stable platform provides the basis for excellent handling. This stability also helps ensure that the fit of various components can be quite precise.


The Avatar is powered by a high output V-6 transverse-mounted engine that drives the front wheels through a 32-bit, electronically controlled, four-speed automatic transmission. Braking is done through four-wheel disks with four-channel ABS. In another node to drivers more aware of performance enhancements, the car comes with an electronic traction system. This also helps ensure safety and stability in bad weather.


Inside the vehicle has the latest generation “depowered” airbags and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, whose seat belts also feature pre-tensioners. The Avatar was fashioned by a team of designers at the Hyundai California Design Studio, working closely with Hyundai designers in Korea.


Source: Hyundai