Tony O'Kane | Mar 3, 2010

HYUNDAI HAS UNVEILED its i-Flow HED-7 concept at the Geneva Motor Show, a low-slung sedan that hides a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain beneath its curvaceous bodywork.

Although much of its design is too wild to translate into production form, the i-Flow concept does at least hint at what styling cues may grace future Hyundais.

The smooth, flowing bodywork helps improve aerodynamic slipperiness, and incorporates a flexible solar panel in the roof that helps keep the batteries topped up. Although its low roofline and swoopy styling is suggestive of a much smaller, sportier car, the i-Flow concept boasts four doors and is comparable in size to a D-segment midsize sedan.

Up front, the hexagonal grille is an integral part of the Korean automaker's new corporate face, and the cat-like headlamps call to mind those fitted to the just-launched ix35.

Although merely a technological showcase for now, the i-Flow's mechanical package provides some clues about where Hyundai intends to go.

Hyundai's new 1.7 litre diesel engine is the primary source of motivation, and features two-stage turbocharging to help eke out more power and torque. A lithium-ion battery pack feeds power to an electric motor, and the diesel engine and electric motor are hooked up to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Both the twin-clutch transmission and 1.7 litre diesel are slated to debut in Hyundai products in the near future, but at this stage it's unclear when the first diesel-electric Hyundai will hit showrooms in production form.

A hybrid variant of the new i45/Sonata is on its way to some global markets (principally the USA) and Hyundai sells an LPG-hybrid model in its homeland of Korea, but a diesel-electric hybrid has yet to be confirmed for production.

However, Hyundai says the i-Flow concept previews an upcoming D-segment sedan, a vehicle that may eventually replace the Grandeur. However, whether it carries over much of the i-Flow's distinctive shape or impressive technology has yet to be determined.

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