2015 HYUNDAI GENESIS REVIEW
What’s Hot: Styling, comfort, potent V6 engine, laden with technology.
What’s Not: Steering notchiness, not as dynamic as the Germans.
X-FACTOR: Unlike any Hyundai you’ve ever experienced - and we mean that in the most complimentary way. A real game-changer.
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: TBD (we expect $50-60k region, before on-roads)
Engine/trans: 231kW/397Nm 3.8 petrol V6 | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.2 l/100km | tested: 12.2 l/100km
The Korean automaker that built its brand on a platform of value-for-money products and no-nonsense engineering has come of age, and the second-generation Genesis sedan is its most polished product yet.
And unlike the LHD-only first-generation Genesis, it will be the first RWD passenger car sold by Hyundai in Australia when it arrives in November of this year.
But that’s not all.
Talk about setting your sights high.
Can the Genesis stand toe-to-toe with the Germans? Is it refined enough, comfortable enough, powerful enough? Is Hyundai reaching too high, too soon?
TMR travelled to Korea to experience the second-gen Genesis in its home market, and it surprised us in every way.
Styling? Exquisite. Quality? Abundant. Comfort? Astounding.
But will it have people bypassing their local Benz/BMW/Audi dealer? Well, yes... provided you check your preconceptions at the door.
Those who are not immediately captivated by the Genesis’ handsome exterior will be knocked off their feet by the interior.
The design is clean and ergonomically sound. It’s incredibly roomy, laden with luxury features - even more so in the high-grade version - and boasts quality materials that rival those seen in European large sedans.
The leather upholstery in the high-grade Korean market model (shown here) is particularly good. It’s soft, supple and even smells exactly right.
It’s nothing like the artificial hide that is standard on most 5 Series or E-Class models, and is more akin to pricier Nappa leather - because it is Nappa leather.
The high-grade model also gets proper wood trim as an option, along with real aluminium brightwork instead of silver plastic.
The seats are built for comfort, and are heated and ventilated both front and rear. There’s also plenty of sprawling space in the back, with leg and headroom aplenty.
This second-generation Genesis is some 75mm longer in wheelbase than the outgoing Genesis, though rear seat legroom shrinks by 70mm to rest at 890mm.
However, that’s still 90mm more than a BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, and 95mm more than an E-Class.
Front seat legroom is 40mm better than in the 5 Series and about par with the E-Class and A6, although front and rear headroom is not as abundant as it is with the Germans.
On the upside, 433 litres of boot space puts the Genesis ahead of the BMW and Audi for cargo capacity.
The Genesis will be offered in Australia in two flavours: a lower-specced entry model, and full-fat high grade flagship.
Specification details have yet to be finalised, but the Korean market cars we drove give a good indication of what to expect.
And you can expect plenty of gadgets. In the base model you have all the usual luxuries like dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, cruise control, trip computer, keyless entry and ignition, bluetooth phone and audio integration, USB audio inputs as well as heated and cooled front and rear outer seats.
Back seat passengers in the base model also have control of the audio system via buttons on the fold-down centre armrest.
Go for the high-grade model, and you gain rear LCD entertainment displays (which can show DVDs, TV channels, the navigation screen and also control the audio system), along with electrically reclining rear seats, retractable sun shades, power bootlid, a panoramic glass sunroof, a colour head-up display and adaptive cruise control
ON THE ROAD
We experienced two powertrains in Korea, a 3.3 litre V6 with 207kW and 347Nm, and a 3.8 litre V6 with 231kW and 397Nm.
Both equipped with Hyundai’s own eight-speed auto, and both specced with the optional H-Trac AWD system.
Hyundai Australia won’t be taking the 3.3 litre or H-Trac (nor the 5.0 litre Tau V8 that’s offered in the USA), but after hundreds of kilometres behind the wheel we found the 3.8 V6 to be well suited to hauling the big Genesis.
South Korea is a land of steep mountains and long highways where the locals like to drive fast and speed enforcement is lax.
There are speed cameras everywhere - most of them helpfully pointed out by the Genesis’ sat-nav system - but the locals either ignore them, or slow down briefly before resuming their 130km/h+ cruising speed.
The 3.8 litre Genesis has no problem with such high speed cruising, and isn’t fazed by hills.
And with the Australian-market Genesis to be RWD only and slightly lighter than the AWD models we drove, our cars should feel pretty sprightly.
The eight-speed gearbox is a good unit too.
It’s not quite as refined and smooth as the ZF-sourced eight-speeder in the 5 Series, but it resists hunting, kicks down willingly and feels reasonably sporty when using the wheel-mounted shift paddles in manual mode.
Ride comfort is terrific, and just the thing for spending long periods behind the wheel (or in the back) on South Korea’s endless concrete highways.
It’s also amazingly quiet. Cruising at 120km/h on level ground, we recorded a cabin sound level of 69db. Librarians would approve of such serenity, and even at 160km/h we didn’t need to raise our voices.
Not wallowy and poorly damped, mind you, just soft.
The high-grade model with the adaptive dampers is a little more buttoned down, but we’ll reserve our final judgement on the Genesis’ handling for when Hyundai Australia’s local chassis-tuning boffins have tweaked the suspension.
Same goes for the steering. It’s electrically assisted and is a great improvement over Hyundai’s previous EPS systems, but there’s an occasional ‘notch’ as you return the wheel to centre, particularly after fast steering inputs.
However the beauty of electronic power steering is that such traits can be tuned out with just a laptop and a skilled engineer, and we’re hoping that inconsistency in feel will be dialled out by the time the Genesis rolls into Australian showrooms.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Right, so the suspension won’t shame a BMW and the steering could use some finessing, but both will be re-worked by Hyundai Australia over the coming months.
More, we still don’t know exactly what equipment will make it into the two model grades that we’ll see here.
But even if it only came to Australia in base form, this car will win converts. Such is the quality, comfort, styling and packaging of the Genesis.
If you’ve previously thought that a Korean automaker would struggle to build a truly desirable, A-grade large sedan, you really need to spend some time in the Genesis.
Come November, you’ll be able to do precisely that.
Hyundai is aiming to bring the Genesis to its local showrooms with a pricetag that sneaks in under the Luxury Car Tax threshold.
A large RWD luxury sedan with a sticker price in the $50-60k region? Perhaps Hyundai has not forgotten its value-driven roots after all...
NOTE: Tony travelled to Korea as a guest, and at the expense, of Hyundai Australia.