Hyundai Genesis — Getting it right

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The first-generation Genesis, introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model, offered a nice blend of features and performance for the money, but it lacked the polish and maturity of European rivals. That’s all changed for 2015. The all-new second-generation Genesis has found a new level.

Today’s Genesis is the first production model to receive Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language set off by a large, bold hexagonal grille with a chrome surround and horizontal slats. It features a creased body line starting at the top edge of the grille that bisects the front and rear door handles before running into the LED taillights. A lower chrome molding adds emphasis. We call the new look a definite advancement giving the new sedan a distinct luxury presence.

Because of a three-inch increase in the wheelbase, rear-seat legroom is abundant, although headroom remains on the tight side for tall passengers because of the sloping roof design. The seats have been redesigned for more comfort and support and now feature double stitching for a more luxurious touch. An available panoramic moonroof enhances outward visibility.

We have no complaints about Hyundai carrying over the engines and eight-speed transmission from the 2014 model. The company says both the V-6 and V-8 have been reworked for better low-end performance. The 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 works delightfully well on the new platform that uses more advanced high-strength steel and has 16 percent more torsional rigidity and 40 percent better bending rigidity giving the car a more refined road feel and improved handling characteristics. And for 2015, the V-6 can be mated to all-wheel drive for $2,500, a feature that should prove attractive in northern climates.

Equally the 5.0-liter V-8 Genesis responded as a true performance sedan. The engine makes 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and as you may surmise ranks highly compared to luxury V-8s with performance measured in 5.0 seconds from 0-to-60 and 13.7 seconds at 103 mph in the quarter mile.

The biggest problem with the V-8 — other than its rather anemic gas mileage rated at 15 mpg city and 23-highway — is the price point. For those who want the ultimate luxury jolt or those horsepower junkies among us, figure on shelling out a several thousand more than the V-6 for similar equipment, starting just north of $53,000.

Although we would not classify the Genesis as a sports sedan it feels smaller and lighter than the outgoing car. The stiffer structure helps keep rough-road ride motions under control. And the Genesis gets help in the sporty department by an optional drive-adjustable Sport mode that alters transmission, steering and suspension settings for more responsive and aggressive driving.

While the exterior was endowed with considerable styling changes — all for the better — the interior received subtle, but tasteful upgrades with first-rate materials including considerable wood (which can be ordered in five different types of grain), aluminum and metallic trim. The center stack and center console layout have been revised, but Hyundai has retained the relatively user friendly dial-and-button media controller in the center console. We especially like the large 9.2-inch navigation screen.

The Genesis 3.8 can be equipped with three option packages: Signature; Tech; and Ultimate, starting at $38,950 including destination charge. The Genesis 5.0 comes well equipped — with only the Ultimate package as an option — starting at $53,450.

Standard features are many, and a vast array of optional equipment is available including a myriad of safety items such as Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-start capability, Auto Emergency Braking, High Beam Assist electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, and a front and rear parking assistance system.

One neat feature that trumps Ford’s instant automatic hatchback activated by kicking your foot under the back of the vehicle is a trunk-opening system that will pop the lid if the driver simply stands next to the trunk for three seconds.

Our test car with all three packages carried a bottom line of $49,950. Although we don’t think all options are created equal, the long list of features in the available packages are worthwhile. Unfortunately, options are bundled and to order a single desirable feature is impossible.

Hyundai has done a creditable job with the new Genesis and you may think we are wallowing in hyperbole, but the truth lies in the driving, the inordinate amount of standard and optional features, the extraordinary fit and finish, and in the high quality of materials. It would not surprise us if the Genesis gains a considerable number of conquest buyers who now own such brands as BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.

Base price: $38,995; as driven, $49,950
Engine: 3.8-liter V-6
Horsepower: 311 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 293 foot-pounds @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
Length: 196.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,138 pounds
Turning circle: 36.2 feet
Luggage capacity: 15.3 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 20.3 gallon (regular)
EPA rating: 29 highway, 18 city
0-60: 6.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, Audi A6

The Good
• Excellent performance with V-6
• High-quality interior
• Plentiful standard equipment
• Safety well covered

The Bad
• Tight head room in rear

The Ugly
• Options must be purchased in pricey packages