Hyundai turns an unloved classic into an EV masterpiece

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Words: Matthew Hansen
14 Apr 2021

It’s been a while since we’ve dwelled on the history of the likes of Hyundai and Kia. It used to be that it was impossible to write about either brand without plotting just how much progress they had made; comparing their new stuff to the disaster cars of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Nowadays of course, Hyundai and Kia have both established themselves as outright mainstream competitors, spoken of in the same breath as the Toyotas and Mazdas of the world. Which makes it all the more fascinating that Hyundai chose to do … this.

Overnight the Korean marque unveiled one of the most unforeseen electric car projects of recent times; an electric-converted Pony. The Pony is one of the brand’s unloved past cars, something that wasn’t exactly known for longevity or critical love. Most had probably forgotten that it had even existed.

But that makes it all the more intriguing. It’s a comprehensive update, too, inclusive of a series of exterior changes. The retrofitted Pony gets LED headlights and taillights similar to those on the new Ioniq 5 (with its straight lines and creases, it ironically looks a little like an Ioniq 5 cousin). Hyundai has also gotten rid of the two-tone paint scheme, instead dipping the whole car in silver.

The interior has also been given an overhaul of sorts. It gets a stupendously retro three-spoke steering wheel, and a frankly bizarre instrument panel where each digit on the dash looks to sit inside a glass lightbulb-looking capsule. It was inevitable that the cabin would get changes, given that the project was led by Hyundai’s chief interior designer Hak Soo Ha.

Our favourite thing about the interior, though, is the wind-up windows. Even the turning knob to roll them up and down is unique looking.

Hyundai hasn’t revealed anything about the electric powertrain that sits underneath the Pony’s old-school skin. But to concern ourselves with what its range and acceleration abilities could be is probably beyond the point of such a car.

Hyundai isn’t putting the car into production (duh), but if you happen to be in Busan, South Korea then you’ll be able to see it in the metal. It’ll be on display at the Hyundai Motorstudio until June 27.

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