Vehicle Style: Large Luxury Sedan
Price: $82,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 232kW/397Nm 3.8 petrol 6cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 11.2 l/100km | tested: 10.2 l/100km
Spending a week in the company of the Hyundai Genesis, the Korean brand's new take on affordable luxury, was an interesting experience.
It attracted its fair share of attention - partially because of the sheer imposing size of the thing, but also plenty of comments along the lines of “I saw the (front) badge but I couldn’t work out what it was".
So we asked strangers to take a sit inside, we subjected friends and relatives to rides, and we watched the attendees of a car show double-take Hyundai’s big new luxury sedan.
And the verdict? Overwhelmingly positive.
That doesn’t mean Hyundai is going to have an easy job of convincing buyers to take the plunge on the Genesis - particularly the range-topping Ultimate pack you see here.
The financial commitment is more than any other Hyundai product before it, but still less than the equivalent size and powertrain combination would cost you from European or Japanese Luxury makers.
And a week behind the wheel revealed that there are no major shortcomings that might stand in the way of the Genesis becoming a minor success for the brand. Here's why.
- Heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats with powered adjustment, high-grade leather trim.
- Panoramic sunroof, noise reducing acoustic window glass.
- Powered rear sun blind, manual rear side blinds.
- Power-operated bootlid, soft-close doors.
- 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and rear seat controls.
- 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display, satellite navigation, around-view camera, head-up display.
- Dual-zone automatic climate control with CO2 sensor, manually adjustable rear temperature control.
Open the door of the Genesis, and the first impressions bode well. The design is contemporary, if not cutting-edge, with an elegant but simple layout.
In Ultimate guise, the interior packs a few more toys.
There’s heated and ventilated front seating, heated rear outboard seats, rear sunshades, a powered bootlid, illuminated scuff plates and soft-close doors.
Another Ultimate exclusive is the optional beige and chocolate two-tone leather interior with simulated oak highlights.
In the areas that truly matter - space and comfort - the Genesis delivers in spades.
Front seats can be electrically adjusted, as can the steering column. With a 16-way adjustable driver’s seat and 12-way adjustable passengers seat.
Rear passengers will find plenty of width in the outboard positions as well as legroom to stretch out in. Audio, seat heater and passenger front seat controls are also repeated in the folding centre armrest for absolute control.
Tap the key-fob button, or stand at the boot for a few seconds and the powered bootlid will automatically open to reveal 497 litres of storage space.
The rear seat features fixed backrests, but does include a ski-port for long items.
What did Hyundai miss inside?
Very little. The fit and finish of the interior scores a big A+ and there’s a plethora of high quality plastics and soft leather trims to go with big comfy seats and ‘just right’ levels of comfort.
There are a few small failings inside though, even the top spec Genesis misses out on real wood-grain trim or metal door handles - the look and feel of these items doesn’t quite stack up to a premium Euro interior.
There’s also a dearth of LED accent lighting. Again, that’s only a small gripe but with the $82k ask of a Genesis Ultimate, its a wow-factor that surely wouldn’t be out of place.
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
Beneath the sweeping bonnet of the Genesis sits a 3.8 litre naturally aspirated V6 that turns out 232kW of power at 6000rpm and 397Nm of torque at 5000rpm.
By modern standards, this engine stands out: where many are turning to turbocharging to boost torque and improve emissions, the Genesis does things the ‘old fashioned’ way.
The result is a wonderfully smooth and quiet powerplant that builds to an angry (but still muted) growl at the top end. Being naturally aspirated means a wonderfully linear escalation of urge from idle to redline.
Although the torque figure may look to peak quite high, there’s plenty of poke to move the Genesis’ pork.
Fuel economy is the problem though, with an official figure of 11.2 l/100km, the ‘as tested’ figure is only slightly lower due to a focus on open-road touring.
There is good news though in Hyundai’s own eight-speed automatic; it's a silky and impressive unit and a genuine threat to established players.
Smooth gear changes combine with razor-sharp logic - it may not be quite as spectacular as the lauded eight-speed auto from ZF, but it is only fractionally behind.
There is also good news for on-road refinement: on most road surfaces, the cabin ambience is perfectly peaceful.
The engine idles so smoothly that it is barely perceptible at idle, and wind noise is entirely locked out thanks to the addition of acoustic glass as part of the Ultimate pack.
The Ultimate is the only Genesis model to ride on 19-inch wheels. That comes with a small downside - while they aid the appearance of the big sedan, they do subtract slightly from ride comfort.
Hyundai Australia has been able to tailor the ride and handling attributes of the Genesis to this country’s unique conditions.
On the whumps and dips of a regional back road there’s more than enough compliance to soak up big hits.
The ride over short, sharp intrusions however - like corrugations - can feel a little uncertain
Comfort rules supreme here, not handling, and, for the target market, Hyundai has things tuned about right.
While there’s a bit of float and wallow in bends, there is a regal limousine-like 'waft' on the highway that will win a lot of buyers over.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 36.88 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: At the time of testing the Genesis was the highest scoring car to be tested by ANCAP. Standard safety features encompass nine airbags, traction and stability control, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, height adjustable front seatbelts with load limiting pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring and ISOFIX child seat anchor points.
Stepping up to the Sensory or Ultimate Pack also adds an around-view camera, blind spot and lane monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s a few ways to consider Genesis rivals: there’s the well-specced but smaller Euros that meet the Ultimate’s opulence, the Lexus and Infiniti middle-ground, or perhaps even an Aussie or American rival to ignite a power war, if you’re so inclined.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
When Lexus launched the LS 400, plenty of people made the mistake of not taking the luxury upstart seriously enough.
The same goes for Hyundai and the lofty idea that a once budget-focused brand could challenge the premium status quo in the luxury market.
It’s easy to toss armchair notions about, and easy to underestimate the Genesis (I may even have been guilty of doing so myself).
But it isn’t until you inspect the craftsmanship, indulge in the comfort, and put the Genesis through its paces that you realise how accomplished this impressive car is.
Perhaps you don't need to extend all the way the Ultimate - at $82,000 it's getting away. Perhaps the Genesis with Sensory Pack has all you need, and saves $11,000 on the price of this one.
Or just buy the entry model at $60,000.
Whichever model, the Genesis is every bit a proper luxury contender.
Sure, the lack of pedigree will deter some at this end of the market. That said, give it time (Hyundai is allowing itself plenty) and you will see a steady increase in the Genesis’ fortunes.
But do have a look; the Genesis is something special.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Hyundai Genesis - $60,000
- With Sensory Pack - $71,000
- With Ultimate Pack - $82,000