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The Coolest Part of Hyundai's New Tesla Rival Is a Useless Feature

Sep 04, 2023

News you can use? Nope. Here's news you can't use even if you tried.

I'm here to discuss a new car feature that serves no purpose and has no greater meaning, but looks really darn cool. So if that feels like a waste of your time, stop reading now.

For everyone else: The Genesis GV60 SUV comes jam-packed with dazzling tech like facial recognition, automated stop-and-go driving, and ultra-fast charging. And that's all great.

But my absolute favorite part of the new Tesla rival from Hyundai's luxury brand serves no purpose whatsoever. Feast your eyes on the "Crystal Sphere."

Most of the time, the illuminated glass orb just sits there, sunk halfway into the GV60's center console. When you walk up, unlock the SUV, and sit down, the Crystal Sphere lights up with a soft, colorful glow.

When you switch the car on, it's the ball's time to shine: Press the starter button and the sphere electronically rotates 180 degrees, revealing the GV60's gear shifter.

When you switch into park and turn the car off, the reverse happens. The gear-selector dial stows away and the mesmerizing orb takes its place. I didn't expect it to look so cool in person.

It's so silly and so unnecessary. But it's wonderful. I spent a few days testing the GV60 last month and turned the car on and off countless times. The Crystal Sphere never failed to put a smile on my face.

You might think the Crystal Sphere could double as one of those old-school computer mice that predated touchpads, but it can't. It may cast the mysterious glow of some all-powerful object from a sci-fi movie, but it does not read minds or contain infinite energy reserves. It's just a decorative glass ball that sits there looking futuristic and swivels around sometimes. Awesome.

(For what it's worth, Genesis says the orb connects drivers to the vehicle and, like the rumble of a regular engine in a gas vehicle, indicates that the SUV is ready to drive.)

And did I mention it changes colors? Switch up the ambient lighting vibe in the GV60 and the Crystal Sphere changes colors to match.

You may be wondering, as I did: What happens if the Crystal Sphere breaks? Driving forward is arguably the main reason to own a car in the first place, so what happens if your flashy but complex gear shifter craps out? Worry not, fellow sphereophiles: In a blog post, Genesis engineers say they thought of all that.

During development, they spilled ketchup, coffee, and other nasty stuff on the sphere to make sure it can't get gummed up. They ensured it can stand up to people leaning their weight on it to enter and exit the car. If something does block the sphere's rotation, it'll double back and try to spin with more force. In an emergency, drivers can move the sphere manually.

I think it's great that electrification is pushing automakers to rethink the way they design cars and to dream up inventive new features that differentiate themselves from the growing pack of Tesla wannabes. Because without EVs we wouldn't see things like the Ford F-150 Lightning's gigantic front trunk, or the Kia EV6's ability to power your coffee machine, or something as simple and delightful as a gratuitous, glowing glass orb.

Do you love or hate your Tesla or other EV? Are you never giving up gasoline? Contact this reporter with your thoughts about EVs at [email protected]

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Do you love or hate your Tesla or other EV? Are you never giving up gasoline? Contact this reporter with your thoughts about EVs at [email protected]