Mountain Wheels: All-new Hyundai Genesis takes on some tough European competition
2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD 3.8
MSRP: $40,500; as tested: $52,450
Powertrain: 311-HP 3.8-liter four-cylinder V-6 engine, eight-speed automatic transmission
EPA figures: 19 MPG combined (16 city, 25 highway)
The notion of a $70,000 Korean car might still seem a little much for American drivers. So there may be more hope for acceptance and saturation of the all-new 2015 Hyundai Genesis, the four-door premium cruiser that’s extremely luxurious, quite broad and powerful and … a little more reasonably priced.
The Genesis, which should not be confused with the two-door sports car Genesis Coupe, is available with the company’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system.
Order an AWD model with the somewhat smaller 3.8-liter gasoline direct injection V-6, which meant a base price of $40,500 in the vehicle I recently drove, though three packages of high-end upgrades brought the price to $52,450.
Considering that Genesis has its sites squarely set on expensive competition such as the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6 — not to mention choices such as the Lexus GS or the Cadillac CTS — Hyundai has again done a very respectable job of offering size, grace and detail that’s now entirely on par with the established luxury and import brands.
How best to describe the look Hyundai has gone for in 2015? The newly truncated front grille and two wings of headlamps might make you say Aston-Martin for a moment — so I said when I first spotted the car, parked in the dark at an airport drop-off point. Blend that into a front and side aspect that’s definitely in line with an Audi A6 (and borderline swoopy in the rear roofline to start looking like an A7); look at it from the rear and you might think it was whatever they now call the Infiniti M series.
There’s a lot of gleaming chrome — thickly outlined windows, a line along the rocker panel that’s much more effective than the chrome blade on the new Sonata, plus chromed exhaust ports and some very impressive wheels.
Small it is not, however, with a 118.5-inch wheelbase and a substantial 196.5 inches of total length, although curb weight was contained to 4,295 pounds in my model, even with AWD (that system adds just 165 pounds to the car’s weight).
The 311-horsepower V-6 is quite adequate for Genesis and standard operations (put your foot into it and you will be happily rewarded); should E-Class-inspired power be your objective, the other option is a 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 that will turn Genesis into a rocket, albeit a 23 MPG rocket. The V-6 with AWD more realistically returns about 25 MPG on the highway, and the rear-wheel-drive version of the V-6 can get as much as 29 MPG.
Is the Genesis built to handle that deliciously weighty range of power? Yes, indeed, as the entire chassis has been stiffened up considerably, the electric power steering is positively dynamic and a fuel-saving eight-speed automatic transmission quietly and efficiently snicks through each gear change without a hint of drama. For a biggish beast, the four-door Genesis does a pretty good job, especially with the added all-season traction of AWD.
And the overall cabin experience can indeed leave you and your passengers thinking you’ve wandered into oddly affordable European luxury land, especially with the added flair of the Ultimate package — adding very attractive real, flat-finished wood and aluminum trim, displayed on the passenger side and door tops in a way you won’t see on anything but a Jaguar. Super-creamy ventilated leather seating with pinstriping details is also a classy and comfortable addition.
The wallop of tech is next on the list, with the most improved aspect being Hyundai’s new navigation software, with detailed maps and easy access to travel details. You can also use the BlueLink system to coordinate directions with a Google search, or even read out your incoming text messages.
Depending on the package, you can add a head-up display and a lane-departure and blind-spot warning system that gently vibrates the steering wheel to warn you when you’ve strayed from your driving path. Less visible is a revolutionary CO2 sensor inside the heating and air condition system, plus dual-mode heat controls that look suspiciously like the switchgear off an older BMW 7-series — again, not such a bad thing.
Everything fits, as well — the execution of the whole deal is flawless, and doesn’t look like various parts of lesser models blended into an upscale mix. It’s all one complete work of craftsmanship, and that’s pretty impressive.
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