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Sat, Aug 30, 2014

Hyundai’s direct assault on the luxury market

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Hyundai’s direct assault on the luxury market | hyundai, genesis, 2015, luxury, auto digest

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis. Photo courtesy of Hyundai.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a compendium of the latest and greatest automotive technologies rolled into one luxury car. Nearly every type of feature I’ve ever heard of, along with some new to me, is included in this all new generation Genesis. Add to that ‘stop ‘n stare’ styling, state-of-the-art mechanicals and world class driving dynamics and the Hyundai Genesis it one of the most exciting cars introduced this year.

It’s notable that the total remodel of the Genesis would come so soon after the Hyundai premium rear-wheel drive sedan was first introduced in 2009. Most companies would follow-up to a successful first vehicle like Genesis with an evolutionary upgrade; instead Hyundai took a big leap forward with a ground up redesign, including a new ultra rigid platform, dramatic new styling and an unrivaled technology package.

To that solid base, Hyundai added a four-wheel multi-link suspension tuned by the world’s top suspension experts from Lotus Engineering. The result is car with sport sedan handling and precise, responsive steering with an innovative Variable Gear Ratio mechanism that varies the teeth pattern on the steering rack. On highways driving East of Phoenix I experienced an exceptionally smooth quiet ride on all types of road conditions and surfaces. 

However, what really sets this new luxurious Hyundai apart from cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS is the remarkably low price tag. With prices starting just under $40,000 and peaking in the mid $50,000s, the Genesis averages from about $12,000 to $20,000 less than the competitors and that’s usually for a better equipped car.

I had seen photos of this new generation Genesis, but had never seen the real thing until I arrived at the hotel in Paradise Valley, last week. When I saw one pull up in the parking lot, I was amazed by how attractive the car is in person. Just like the Sonata established Hyundai as a styling leader, the Genesis is taking the company to the next level of design with its sophisticated new look. The Genesis is the first of Hyundai’s Fluid Sculpture 2.0 design philosophy. From its single-frame 3D-hexagonal grille along the length of the body with its strong full-length character line, the look is fresh, contemporary and elegant all the way back to the unique rear end treatment. I think it’s a look that will age well and turn heads for years.

The clean sophisticated lines of the interior are accented by real wood trim, along with tasteful real aluminum accents. The surfaces are soft touch and there’s a copious use of stitched panels. The standard seats are soft perforated leather. The rear seat is spacious for two adults, but like most sedans the middle spot marginal. 

Instrumentation is mounted high on the dash with the large analog dials behind the steering wheel bookending a large information screen. To the right there’s a standard eight-inch navigation screen, which can be upgraded to a 9.2-inch HD touch screen complete with full driver information system. But what I liked most was the excellent heads-up display screen in the bottom of the windshield in front of the driver. The sharp customizable display included the speed limit, vehicle’s speed, navigation instructions, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and indicators that certain key systems were activated. It’s one of the best displays of this kind I’ve seen. (Both the larger screen and the head-up display are part of the optional Ultimate Package.) 

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is available in two engine-specific models: the 3.8, with a 311-hp, direct injection DOHC 3.8-liter V-6 and the 5.0, powered by a 420-hp, 5.0-liter direct injection DOHC V-8. Both engines drive the rear wheels through a Hyundai designed and built eight-speed automatic transmission. All models have steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for better driver control. The 3.8 is also available with an all new HTRAC® all-wheel drive system. At a demonstration, I saw how the system easily moves the car forward with only one wheel having traction. The system works in conjunction with the transmission’s Normal and Eco modes to provide better all-weather traction. The transmission’s Sport mode helps improve to handling characteristics by providing better cornering traction as needed. In addition to subtle badging, the two models can be distinguished by the rear exhaust outlets: two for the V-6 and four for the V-8.

Hyundai doesn’t release 0-60 mph acceleration times, and the buff magazines haven’t done their testing yet, so, based on the previous generation and my seat of the pants estimate, I’m guessing the V-6 makes the run in about 6.5 seconds while the V-8 takes about 5.0 seconds. It was actually difficult to get the sensation of speed and acceleration because the car is so smooth and quiet.  The EPA fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 22 combined for the 3.8 RWD. The AWD is 16/25/19 mpg and the V-8 is 15/23/18 mpg.

To get the Gemini to this high level of driving dynamics, Hyundai engineers did extensive testing at their Mojave California proving grounds and at the infamous Nürburgring race course in Germany. Cold weather testing was done in Norway and hot weather tests were run in Death Valley, Calif. The work paid beautiful dividends in excellent handling and a smooth quiet ride.

Audiophiles will appreciate the two Lexicon® sound systems, one with 14 speakers, the other with 17 speakers and both with 900 watts of power. The systems have all the sources including SiriusXM® radio, HD radio, CD, Bluetooth® and all the auxiliary input options.

Along with one of the most user-friendly multi-media navigation systems I’ve used, Hyundai has an extensive assortment of entertainment and safety communications links, derived through their Blue Link system. For example, services like Aha Radio, Pandora and Sound Hound offer literally tens of thousands of available entertainment options, plus there is 30GB of media storage available so owners can upload a lifetime collection of tunes through the USB port.
The next generation Blue Link also has a Hyundai Connected Care service link, Google Destination Search Link, remote access through a smart phone app, and even the ability to set a timer to remotely start the car and control the vehicles inside temperature. It also offers a full menu of emergency services like SOS assistance, automatic collision response, stolen vehicle recover, point of interest searches in addition to unlocking the car or flashing the lights and horn to help you find it when it disappears in a parking lot.

Other new technologies on the Genesis include the new Sensor Control System which detects elevated levels of Carbon Dioxide in the cabin and automatically brings in fresh air. There’s also a very helpful automatic trunk opening feature. Simply stand near the trunk lid for three seconds with the key fob in a pocket or purse and the power trunk lid opens. Push a button once you’ve deposited your items in the trunk and it closes automatically. There is also a suite of active drive technologies (Sensory Surround Safety™) to provide Automatic Emergency Braking to help avoid collisions. Lane Departure Warning not only lets you know you are about to drive outside the lane, but can actually turn the car to keep you within the lanes. I did discover if you get to over confident letting the car doing the steering, it also tells you to put your hands back on the steering wheel.

As a fan of active cruise control systems, I was especially impressed by the Genesis system which brings the car to a complete stop, and then when traffic starts to move, accelerates back to speed without driver intervention.

Even in the dark, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is impressive -- walk up to it with the key fob and lights on both sides shine onto the ground to light the way with a bright light and the Genesis logo. 

Judging against the Who’s Who of luxury cars, I think the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is easily on par with all of them and better than most, and it’s my five star winner for the best in luxury class value.

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2015, auto digest, genesis, hyundai, luxury
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