What’s Hot: Impressive fit-out, space and comfort. Quiet. Plenty of car for the money.
What’s Not: Top-spec isn’t luxurious enough; faux wood-trim doesn't make the grade
X-FACTOR: If anything’s going to change your mind about Hyundai, it’s the Genesis.
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $60,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 232kW/397Nm 3.8 petrol 6cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.2 l/100km | tested: 12.9 l/100km
Launching a large RWD sedan at a time when such cars are experiencing declining sales is certainly ambitious - if not risky - but Hyundai Australia clearly has no shortage of ambition right now.
And what better symbol of this than the Genesis.
Launching this month at a retail price of $60,000 on the dot, the Genesis sneaks under the Luxury Car Tax threshold but promises a level of luxe that Hyundai says rivals the BMW 7 Series.
Two option packs are available, with the most expensive taking the retail price up to $82,000, but powertrain options are limited to a 3.8 litre naturally aspirated V6.
The 5.0 V8 that’s available overseas will not be coming here.
But Hyundai reckons the presence of the Genesis in its Australian showrooms will give the brand a glossier sheen in the eyes of consumers, and change the perceptions of the Hyundai brand.
Is it good enough? We attended the local launch of the Genesis in Canberra to find out.
- Standard equipment: Leather upholstery, Heated and power-adjustable front seats, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, powered rear sunshade
- Infotainment: 9.2-inch colour infotainment display, 17-speaker audio system with controls for rear passengers, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, satellite navigation.
- Sensory Pack: Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, top-down camera view, high-grade leather with 16-way driver's seat adjustment, power-adjustable steering column, head-up display, LED foglamps, CO2 sensor for climate control, self-dimming wing mirrors
- Ultimate Pack: Panoramic glass sunroof, noise-suppressing acoustic glass, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated and vented front seats, heated outboard rear seats, powered bootlid, retractable sunshades in rear doors, illuminated scuff plates, soft-close doors
- Storage: 497 litres. Ski port behind centre armrest, but rear seats do not fold.
More than anything else, interiors make or break a luxury car. Material quality has to be well above the normal standard, comfort must be exceptional and - for a big sedan like the Genesis at least - the cabin must be quiet.
On these factors, the Genesis scores well. Noise from the outside world is exceptionally well-suppressed and so is road roar, while the engine only really gets noisy when revving above 4500rpm.
It’s spacious inside too.
The Genesis’ 3.01 metre wheelbase allows plenty of legroom for front and rear occupants, with the former getting 40mm more than what they’d find in a BMW 5 Series and the latter enjoying a whopping 90mm more.
A generous centre armrest bisects the rear seats and carries controls for the audio system (as well as controls to move the front passenger seat remotely), but can be folded up to easily fit a fifth passenger in the middle.
The quality of switchgear and cabin plastics is generally high, so too is the standard leather and optional high-grade upholstery.
The only debit is the faux-wood trim. The woodgrain is obviously fake, and spoils what is otherwise a very well-appointed interior.
However this isn’t the fault of Hyundai Australia: the tooling to make real wood trim pieces for a RHD Genesis dashboard simply doesn’t exist at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant.
For standard high-end features though, the value proposition is good. The base model gets radar-assisted cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, a 9.2-inch colour touchscreen with sat-nav, heated front seats, parking sensors, a reversing camera, keyless ignition plus auto-high beam.
Opting for the $11,000 Sensory Pack will net you more safety gear like blind-spot monitoring and a top-down camera view, as well as a head-up display, higher-grade leather, an electrically adjustable steering column and LED foglamps.
The $22,000 Ultimate pack, meanwhile brings 19-inch alloys, a panoramic glass roof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, soft-close doors and a powered bootlid - as well as all of the equipment in the Sensory Pack.
That’s plenty of kit for the money, though, if we had our way, the powered rear seats and rear DVD/TV screens available overseas would also be included in the Ultimate Pack.
Overall, the net effect of all the above is a cabin that, though undeniably a nice place to be in, doesn’t quite have the luxurious air of some of its German opposition.
Put in the context of its price though, it’s pretty impressive.
ON THE ROAD
- 232kW/397Nm naturally aspirated petrol V6
- 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters and Sport mode. Rear-wheel drive
- Multi-link front and rear suspension
- 345mm front rotors with four-piston fixed calipers, 314mm rear rotors with single-piston sliding calipers.
- Electric power steering, variable weight depending on drive mode
We drove the Genesis in Korea earlier this year, and while it displayed impressive on-road comfort, its suspension tune was far too cushy for the rough-and-tumble roads commonly found in Australia.
To rectify that, Hyundai Australia put a great deal of effort into tailoring the Genesis’ suspension and steering, tightening up the handling while preserving ride comfort.
The result? A car that’s still exceptionally comfortable, but now corners with a lot more confidence.
The tune is still soft but tauter than before thanks to revised spring and damper rates, as well as a different subframe to the Korean-market version (ours is borrowed from the US-spec car, and has been fettled by none other than Lotus).
The electric power steering has also been adjusted, and is one of Hyundai’s better localised steering tunes.
The weighting varies between Normal and Sport mode (Eco is the same as Normal), but it’s agreeable enough in either.
You would not, however, describe it as 'sharp' at the wheel. The Genesis doesn’t have the dynamic edge of, say, a BMW 5 Series. Instead, the emphasis is on comfort.
The ride however does get slightly firmer on the 19-inch alloys of the Ultimate Pack, though there’s little increase in cabin noise.
In fact, noise and vibration suppression is exceptional in the Genesis, to the extent that it rivals Lexus for cabin quietness.
The sole engine offering is a 3.8 litre naturally-aspirated petrol six. While it’s relatively unsophisticated compared to the turbo sixes used by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, it’s got reasonably good low-down torque and enough power to match the car’s weight.
With 232kW the direct-injection 3.8 litre has more power than the turbo 3.0 straight six in the BMW 535i and the supercharged 3.0 V6 in the Audi A6, while it’s just 1kW less powerful than the Lexus GS 350.
Torque maxes out at a healthy 397Nm. That’s just 3Nm under the 535i and 19Nm up on the Lexus, but 43Nm down on the A6 3.0 and a whopping 80Nm under the Mercedes-Benz E400.
The eight-speed transmission is more than capable of matching up to sophisticated gearboxes of the competition though.
Developed entirely in-house by Hyundai, it makes intelligent choices about gear selection when placed in auto, and is responsive when in Sport mode.
Kickdown performance is swift, and a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel enable manual control of the gearbox.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 36.88 out of 37 possible points. It is the highest score ever awarded by ANCAP.
Safety features: Nine airbags (dual front, front and rear side, full-length curtain, driver’s knee), stability control, traction control, active cruise control, ABS, EBD and autonomous braking are standard on the Genesis.
The Sensory pack adds more active safety equipment, including lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a top-down camera view.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Hyundai says the Genesis could conceivably be compared to everything from a Honda Accord to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But, while its size, equipment levels and performance make it a good on-paper match for its European rivals its much lower price point puts it in a different league altogether.
Instead, here are some other large and/or luxurious competitors that also sit within the $60-82k bracket.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There are parallels between the two, certainly. Size, shape, driven wheels, comfort… the Genesis is certainly not all that dissimilar from the BMW.
What’s different though is the badge and country of origin. In a market like Australia, that matters a great deal when labelling something as “luxurious”.
People drawn to brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes and even Lexus won’t be swayed by the Genesis. As good as it is, it doesn’t have the brand cachet required to compete on an even footing.
But judged in isolation, the Genesis is simply excellent.
Does it have the brand 'pull' to make it a proper luxury car in the eyes of consumers though?
Well no. At least, not yet.
That may change in time though, and the public’s reaction to the Genesis will be something that Hyundai Australia will be closely monitoring.
The volume aspirations are small - less than 1000 cars per year is the official word - so the Genesis is more about boosting the Hyundai brand and taking it upmarket, not stealing conquest sales from the Germans.
Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, the Genesis is worth taking a look at, even if you’re not in the market for a big luxo sedan.
We guarantee it’ll surprise you, and in a good way.