I like Genesis. The Korean luxe brand has turned out some nice-looking cars lately — but the GV60 is not one of them. I’m finally putting my bachelor-of-fine-arts degree to work by breaking down car designs, so get excited for more like this. Meanwhile, let’s discuss exactly why the GV60 is so weird-looking.

A time ago, Genesis released images of its forthcoming new electric-only crossover; the GV60. Based upon the same platform as the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Genesis GV60 aims to be the most premium of the trio.

I know not everybody is a Genesis fan; I’ve heard complaints that their styling langue is too weird for some. Maybe the bisected front and rear lights and Dorito-shaped front grille don’t do it for everybody.

I am not one of those people. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling like Genesis, (and Hyundai/Kia as a whole) can basically do no wrong in design. The GV70 and GV80 are two new luxury SUVs that are legitimately threatening to BMW and Mercedes. The styling is unique, the proportions are good, and the experience exudes an air that is distinctly premium. Out of the gate, they’re doing better than some long-established luxury brands (cough cough, Cadillac).

So, when the GV60’s first images broke, I was high-key disappointed. I wasn’t the only one either, fellow design buddy, The Drive’s Peter Holderith was pretty pointed in his critique of the GV60’s kind of awkward design.

Why the Genesis GV60 Is Weird Looking: A Design Analysis
Screenshot: Twitter/Peter Holderith

Why is it so awkward? It’s all in the proportions.

There’s a sort of trope, that luxury cars have to subscribe to a certain theorem of design. Like, good design means that each line serves a purpose, each form has to have a logical end, each piece and part has to be straight-laced. Basically, each car has to be sort of Audi or Bangle BMW level design rationale to be luxury; something that can be articulated in a press release, I guess.

I don’t agree with that. I think less deliberate, maybe a bit nonsensical, bordering on the whimsical, surfacing can imbue a more interesting product. I mean, luxury cars should set trends, not follow them, right? Genesis’s bisected lights and almost Mercedes or Bentleyesque soft surfacing are certainly unique.

OK, back to the GV60. Some do take issue with the GV60’s kind of random rear glass divot, but I like that too. I enjoy the front fascia, its main grille shape is echoed in a genuinely unique way in the lower valance. On its face, I think the way all the styling elements interact with each other is actually good.

Why the Genesis GV60 Is Weird Looking: A Design Analysis
Image: Genesis

But the shape they’re applied to is not good. The GV60 looks blocky and stumpy as if it’s a cheap hatchback, not an expensive luxury crossover. The GV60 is all wheelbase, with no overhangs, and the styling looks cramped on such a short and (visually) narrow form. Keyword here: Visually. The GV60 (like its Kia and Hyundai sisters) will likely be sizably bigger than the average compact crossover.

The GV60’s roofline descends very fast after the rear door, ending in sort of a faux-fastback coupe-esque shape. Genesis could have fixed this by either a bit more rear overhang, letting the roofline descend faster and lower, or having the descent start earlier, which would likely have compromised ergonomics (if it was even possible). The car’s too short for the descent to go all the way down for a true coupe-like silhouette, so instead it’s stuck in limbo.

Why the Genesis GV60 Is Weird Looking: A Design Analysis
Tragic, tragic proportions. Image: Genesis

The rear window and hatchback don’t taper towards the center of the car either, making the rear of the car a bit more slab-sided than it should be.

Why the Genesis GV60 Is Weird Looking: A Design Analysis
Woof. Image: Genesis

Commonly, modern EVs have their batteries mounted in the floor. Sure, it can greatly contribute to a lower center of gravity, but it also essentially raises the vehicle’s height. I suspect that’s why so many EVs are crossovers; the reduced interior volume due to floor-mounted batteries can seriously impact a regular hatch or sedan’s practicality.

Why the Genesis GV60 Is Weird Looking: A Design Analysis
Somehow, Kia’s iteration on the same platform looks more premium than the Genesis. Image: Kia

The EV6, Ioniq 5, and Genesis GV60 are no stranger to this — they’re tall vehicles, even if they look to be styled like more sensible hatchbacks in person. The EV6 and Ioniq 5 are great at hiding their height; visual tricks like sideskirts that tuck into the body, or black paint that tricks the eye, lowering the car. The GV60’s cladding….doesn’t do that.

Car design is hard. There very well could have been a more graceful GV60 design in the Genesis studios, but maybe the project’s budget and the Ioniq 5’s platform didn’t lend themselves to a more graceful interpretation. Heck, Honda had a significantly more rakish version of the second-generation Insight, that was cut because of budget and ergonomics. 

Maybe the GV60 will look better in live photos, in a different color, with different wheels. As it stands right now, I’m not a huge fan of the GV60.