Genesis’ Mint Concept: The Car No One Asked For?

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Genesis Motors revealed a small city car in The Big Apple this week. However, the model’s debut wasn’t part of the daily goings-on at the New York International Auto Show. Instead, the company decided to unveil the Mint Concept at Hudson Yards, ahead of the trade show’s official press days — utilizing terms like “urban icon” and “reductive versatility” while somehow expecting to be taken seriously.

“As a brand, Genesis embraces progressive design values, and the Mint Concept reinforces this commitment from a previously undiscovered perspective,” Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis’ executive vice president, said at the vehicle’s introduction. “Mint belongs in the city, and we are proud to introduce our evolution of the ideal city car in New York.”

This is the kind of industrial-grade nonsense your author absolutely despises. However, I am elated Genesis did this, as it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to be exceptionally critical of a Korean brand. Outside of Hyundai’s Nexo, the country’s been on a hot streak lately. It’s wonderful to be able to prove that I’m still an unpleasant crankshaft without bias. 

By becoming indistinguishable from the general hardships of city life, the manufacturer claims the concept perfectly complements urban living. It’s quite small, which makes it easy to park, but Genesis seems to have intentionally forgotten to mitigate the associated shortcomings. Rather than make the Mint petite and practical, the team decided to just make it small and stylish. A parcel shelf designed for occasional use replaces a traditional trunk and can be accessed by a set of scissor-style doors that appear to serve no real purpose other than showing off.

Genesis is operating under the assumption that it’s unwise to leave items sitting around in plain view of the public, so all of the Mint’s storage solutions are temporary. While correct in its assessment of how safe it is to display your valuables, a better solution may have been to equip the model with a cargo cover. Of course, then you wouldn’t be able to see the concept’s beautiful leather upholstery.

Overall, the design is good. The three-box exterior is sculpted in a manner that feels upscale, futuristic, and also timeless. The interior is also easy on the eyes. Tasteful touches stand out due to the Mint’s minimalist take on motoring, and I really like the swiveling bench seat. But it’s all in service of something that makes very little sense.

The flat-bottom (and top) steering wheel is surrounded by six Graphic User Interface (GUI) information screens that, according to Genesis, “call attention to critical vehicle functions individually.” A seventh screen is mounted in the center of the steering wheel, displaying more pertinent vehicle information — like how fast you’re going. It’s a handsome interface, but far too small and simplistic to be useful.

Genesis estimates 200 miles per full charge and 350-KW fast charging. Considering that this vehicle is almost certainly vaporware, it’s funny to see the company go with a totally plausible range.

As a New Yorker, I have legitimate grievances with this terrible city. The subway is terrible, buses suck, and driving enjoyment is limited to very specific hours of the day. Getting around by any means other than walking is a total drag and owning a Mint is not going to change that. Anyone with enough money to buy a premium vehicle isn’t going to want a comically small one, and everyone else will simply buy a compact crossover that stands to be dented within the first week of ownership because they probably can’t afford to store it in a private garage. Genesis still doesn’t build a crossover, and now they’re offering up this masturbatory tech concept intended to excite people who probably don’t like cars in the first place? Genius!

The only chance in hell the Mint would have on the market, assuming Genesis actually wants to build it, would stem from trendy young urbanites with more money than sense. But I happen to have just enough faith in humanity to know better.

[Images: Genesis Motors]

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