2015 Hyundai Genesis: More car, less snob appeal

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Would you prefer a well-known luxury car or saving thousands for a worthy but less-prestigious rival? The new, redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a fast, luxurious sedan designed to compete with foreign rivals (mainly German) that cost thousands more.

This Genesis has slicker, more imposing styling. It’s highlighted by a new, very aggressive-looking hexagonal grille and dynamic rear design. The wheelbase is longer at 118.5 inches and there are shorter body overhangs than its predecessor.

This big, imposing four-door is equipped with plenty of luxury and convenience equipment. It’s 196.5 inches long and weighs from 4,138 to 4,541 pounds. It’s not a sports sedan, but has excellent roadability, due partly to nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a new rear multi-link suspension.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD) is offered for the first time for the base Genesis V-6 model. The more-powerful V-8 version comes only with rear-wheel drive (RWD).

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a luxurious sedan with a substantially lower price than rivals.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a luxurious sedan with a substantially lower price than rivals.

There is a new ultra-rigid platform, and the fully-independent 5-link front and rear suspension designs have more stiffness, with increased front and rear travel for greater bump absorption over a variety of roads. The car rolls on stronger new 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels and has electronic stability control. Also, a Continuous Damping Control suspension offered for the Genesis V-8 helps increase control of body motions and body roll, allowing sportier roadholding and a more comfortable ride.

There are no disappointments in the power area. The $38,000 Genesis has a sophisticated 3.8-liter V-6 with 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque while the $51,500 Genesis has a 5-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. My test Genesis had the V-8.

The interior of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is plush.
The interior of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is plush.

The V-6 uses regular-grade fuel and is expected to be chosen by most Genesis buyers. It has been improved to deliver a flatter overall torque curve at low rpm for enhanced driveability. The Genesis V-6 model is lighter than the V-8 version. It’s more nimble. The V-6 model has standard RWD, with optional AWD, while the V-8 model only comes with RWD.

Both engines work with an enhanced, butter-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission with an easily used manual-shift feature that uses paddle shifters. A new available Intelligent Drive mode lets a driver select from four drive modes, depending on conditions and driving preferences. Each mode alters transmission mapping, throttle responsiveness, stability control and suspension damping settings.

The Genesis V-6 provides an estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on highways with RWD and 16 and 25 with AWD. The Genesis V-8 provides a mediocre 15 city, but 23 on highways.

My test Genesis V-8 was truly muscular, moving the car from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and providing seemingly effortless passing abilities and highway cruising. However, the Genesis V-6 also is lively, being several hundred pounds lighter than the V-8 model.

Curiously, my test car’s nicely geared motor-driven electric power steering felt “soggy” for a few miles when I initially drove the car, then felt normal. The steering was quick, and the turning circle was commendably tight.

Handling was remarkably good for a large luxury auto. It took tricky decreasing radius turns in stride at above-average speeds and went where you pointed it with no lag. The rather firm ride was supple, and braking was strong, with good pedal feel. The anti-lock brakes have brake assist and electronic brake distribution features.

Safety features include nine air bags. Offered is a new “Smart Cruise Control” system that allows full function down to zero m.p.h. and enables the Genesis to help maintain safer, consistent spacing with the vehicle ahead. A new blind spot detection system helps monitor traffic around the car, using radar sensors. And there’s a parking assistance system to safety get a driver in and out of tight spots.

The interior is spacious, ultra-quiet and luxurious, but generally isn’t quite up to the best European standards. Large door handles help allow quick entry. Front seats provide good side and thigh support, and all seats are comfortable.

It’s easy to go faster than you think in the Genesis V-8, so it’s nice that a prominent digital speedometer keeps track of speed, along with a conventional speedometer. The attractive gauges are easy to read in bright sunlight. Inspired by aircraft technology, an optional heads-up display projects a virtual image on the windshield, letting a driver keep eyes concentrated on the road.

The steering wheel design and grip have been improved, and switchgear has been redesigned and is easier to reach. The pushbutton engine starter is convenient. There are a good number of small controls, but they’re clearly marked for simple use. The analog clock in the center of the dashboard gives the interior a touch of old-fashioned class. Power plugs are easy to reach near the dashboard.

The trunk is large, but there are no split folding rear seatbacks to increase cargo room. However there’s a moderately large pass-through area from the trunk to the rear seat area.

A “Smart Trunk” system opens the trunk lid automatically if the car’s smart key is detected within a new feet of the rear bumper for longer than three seconds for hands-free ease of opening. The system lets a driver keep both feet on the ground, simply waiting by the trunk a few seconds for it to open automatically. Rivals with hands-free trunk opening use a leg-kick sensor under the rear bumper to enable a driver to open the lid, but Hyundai found this method to be difficult when someone is carrying cumbersome packages.

Such clever touches likely help sell a car, especially if it’s a solid package like the Genesis. Also helpful in promoting sales is the significant amount of money that can be saved by passing up costlier, although better known, luxury class foreign cars. And not minding that the Genesis doesn’t have their prestigious nameplates.

Pros: Redesigned. Stylish. Luxurious. Roomy. Fast. Excellent roadability. New AWD option. High-tech features. Competitively priced.

Cons: Lacks snob appeal of rivals. Marginal V-8 city fuel economy. No folding back seat.

Bottom Line: A lot of luxury car for the money.

Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist from more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.

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