Hyundai’s path from replaceable econobox to highly desirable automotive brand has been a quick one. But, the track of their Genesis sedan from import-premium pretender to notable contender took an even faster pace. And, this 2nd generation of Hyundai’s new beginning appears to be the real deal. So, should established luxury-sports carmakers be worried? Let’s find out.
Hyundai’s Equus may be the brand’s posh flagship. But, it’s the 2015 Genesis that is the most important car for this brand and its efforts to expand into luxury sedan territory, especially if they ever hope to be a notable challenger to Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and other top-tier luxury marques.
That’s because the Genesis is not just a middle weight luxury car, it’s one that Hyundai has infused with enough sportiness to actually make us eager to hop in and drive it. And, when you do, you’ll find some of the seriously good interior quality that is required to be world class. It’s not all there yet, but it’s close. Hyundai has done a fine job of upping the “classy” with genuine materials such as great looking satin finish wood.
Also to play in this class, it takes the latest in high tech. Updates such as Smart Cruise Control and a Head-Up Display are in line with its competition, while available safety systems like lane keep assist and Sensory Surround have the Genesis bordering on being a self-driving car.
The hands free trunk release is pretty trick. Just stand by the trunk with the key on you for 3-seconds and the lid pops open. Virtual gauges are bold and direct while the general dash layout is very nice.
The driver’s seating position is great, with lots of adjustments and good bolstering, though some found the wide cushions a little on the hard side. The back seat borders on huge, with lots of room to spread out, even for adults.
To be a true luxury contender you also need something else, a “big” grille! The Genesis’s has one even if it is Audi-like. And, in similar fashion, this face will also soon work its way through the rest of the Hyundai brand.
Fractionally longer in overall length, yet with 3-inches more wheelbase, proportions are now more modern. It is without a doubt more upscale, and the longer arching roofline gives Genesis a far more aerodynamic profile. In the rear, panels are more rounded as well; and the jewel-like LED tail lights are mounted high.
The same 5.0-liter V8 and 3.8-liter V6 engines are available, but both have been revised for smoother operation and better torque delivery. Our tester sported the 311–horsepower V6 and its 293 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 is available with a new HTRAC all-wheel-drive system that works with Intelligent Drive Mode select to divert power forward or rearward depending on wheel slip.
But, all this means less if the makeover de elegance doesn’t carry over to the driving experience. Well, it does, but also to a point. Ride quality is very close to the Big-3 German luxury cars, even if the sporty feel still comes up a tad short.
Things have gotten more responsive and perhaps a little more settled, but when driven aggressively there’s still plenty of roll; nothing a proper ride-and-handling package wouldn’t fix. The V6 engine sounds great, but launching torque is still low, taking our Genesis to 60 in 7.2-seconds.
Response improves markedly as RPMs climb and shifts from the 8-speed automatic transmission are quick yet smooth, making the trip through the quarter mile in 15.4–seconds at 96 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, steering feel was numb; like most of the Germans; but on the plus side, this rear-driver still retains some of the first gen car’s tossable nature even with its big improvement in smoothness. Braking is not too shabby either, with stops from 60 averaging a short 120–feet.
The original Genesis sedan surprised us in Biblical proportions. Not just with its luxury feel, but by the fact that we liked driving it a lot. It got Genesis off to a good start and we’ve loved every namesake sedan and coupe we’ve driven since, including this car.
For which government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 29-Highway, and 22–Combined. Our 23.4 mile-per-gallon average of Regular was a good one. Though the Energy Impact Score remains average, at 15.0-barrels of oil burned and 6.8 tons of CO2 emitted yearly.
And, as nice as the Genesis has gotten, it’s still a great value proposition. The “more for less-ness” starts at $38,950. Most of its direct competition, with far better name cache, start around $50,000.
Genesis signifies birth. And, while the original 2009 Genesis sedan was certainly that, it’s this 2015 Hyundai Genesis 4-door that has the potential of being a brand changing vehicle, if they can follow up with additional models in the same vein. Then, established luxury makers will have something to worry about. Not so much about losing their current customers, but about attracting future ones.
Engine: 3.8 liter
Torque: 293 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.8 tons/yr