The Hyundai i-flow is one of the significant concept cars at Geneva, not just because it looks dramatic, but because under that heavily sculpted skin is a range of latest tech that could appear in Hyundai’s next generation of cars.

Powering the i-flow is the company’s first diesel-electric hybrid powertrain consisting of a U2 1.7-litre oil burner with two-stage turbocharging and Hyundai’s lithium ion-polymer battery. Coupled to a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission, the drivetrain is capable of 33.3 km/l and a low CO2 output of 85g/km.

The i-flow is also a test bed for new energy harvesting ideas, ranging from a flexible solar panel roofing to a thermo-electric generator developed in partnership with leading chemical company BASF. One such idea is thermal engine encapsulation, which ensures that the engine reaches optimum operating temperature more quickly by retaining heat when the car is idle. Hyundai says that this translates into fuel savings and emissions cuts of 5% during summer and up to 9% in winter. The thermo-electric generator meanwhile recaptures energy from hot exhaust gases and converts it to electrical energy to help power auxiliary systems.

Designed at Hyundai’s European studio in Russelsheim, the i-flow sports the firm’s “fluidic sculpture” design language. With an overall length of 4,780 mm and a 2,800 mm wheelbase, the i-flow is a Honda Accord sized D-segment contender that is set to hit the market in 2011. It remains to be seen how much of the i-flow’s styling is retained for production, but things look promising with the recent Korean realisation that advanced design is as important as making competent cars.

Live pictures from Geneva and official images are after the jump!

Hyundai i-flow live images from Geneva
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Hyundai i-flow official images
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