2015 Hyundai Genesis first drive
This time we mean it: Hyundai gets serious about equalling the Europeans ... except in price
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Vernon, B.C. – Heading North up the valley, the two-lane road has turned narrow and patchy as it writhes along the west shore of Lake Okanagan. On a route with so few passing opportunities, we should be fuming with frustration as we follow a local yokel in a big ol’ pickup truck towing a box trailer big enough to cart a couple of horses. Except, this pickup driver knows the road and how to drive it. We’re not struggling to keep up, but the pace is rapid enough to keep us entertained.
This intrepid pickup pilot is one of the few Canadians who might fully appreciate Hyundai’s re-boot of its Genesis luxury sedan. For all the progress Hyundai has made in recent years (and remember the original 2009 Genesis was both Canadian and North American Car of the Year), over-the-road-dynamics was its Achilles Heel. Not anymore.
To get it right this time, the Koreans even hired Lotus Engineering. Anyone who’s ever driven cars built by the boutique British sports-car maker will know that when it comes to suspension tuning, Lotus is not far short of the voice of god. Lotus also worked with Hyundai to extract natural feel and feedback from the de-rigueur fuel-saving electric power steering – something that has challenged even BMW.
All new except the powertrains
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Of course, there’s much more to the 2015 Genesis than redone steering and suspension. An all-new premium architecture supports a reshaped body on a 75-mm longer wheelbase (other key dimensions change minimally or not at all). Hyundai claims the new structure is more rigid than those of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.
The new look is also the first iteration of Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, Hyundai’s evolving design language that will migrate to the rest of its lineup – next up, the 2015 Sonata -- over the coming years. Together, the new shape, and the hardware it clothes, nudge the car’s personality profile over the threshold from traditional/luxury to sporty/progressive – though Hyundai still isn’t calling the Genesis a full-on sports sedan.
As before, the Genesis is primarily rear-wheel drive, but for the first time all-wheel drive is available – and in Canada, it will be standard. Powertrains are basically carryover, including the eight-speed automatic transmission, though the available 3.8-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8 have been retuned to boost torque at some cost in peak horsepower. Both remain naturally aspirated in a peer group where turbo- or supercharging is increasingly common.
The AWD system is supplied by Canada-based Magna, and is basically the same technology as also used by BMW’s XDrive cars.
Still playing the price card
Photo: Jeremy Sinek
Much as Hyundai wants us to believe the Genesis is the equal of the Euro sedans that were its benchmarks (primarily, 5 Series, E-Class and Audi A6), it’s sticking with the size-class-down pricing strategy. To the extent that pricing has gone up (from to $43,000 from $39,999 on the base V6) it covers the cost of the now-standard AWD plus other new features including next-generation Navi, adaptive HID headlamps, power heated seats, proximity keyless entry with push-button start and a 4.3-inch TFT cluster display.
At $48,000 the 3.8 Luxury adds a sunroof, Nappa leather, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, open-pore wood accents, a premium driver`s seat, front-seat ventilation, rear seat heaters, and a heated, power-adjustable steering wheel. Step up an additional $5,000 and the 3.8 Technology model adds a suite of active driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise with automatic stop-go, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist, plus a head-up display and power trunk lid. Not to mention two Genesis exclusives: an HVAC feature that monitors and controls CO2 build-up in the cabin; and proximity-activated automatic trunk opening.
The 5.0 V8 comes only in one model, the Ultimate, which asks $62,000 and further add 19-inch wheels, a 9.2-inch HD (720p) Navi touch-screen, continuous damper control, and a 17-speaker, 900-watt Lexicon audio.
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