- Luxury features abound
- Refined and supple ride
- Lots of car for the money
- Chassis not buttoned down
- Fuel economy
- One or two interior parts are B-grade
The Hyundai Genesis is an astounding achievement for Hyundai. It's a full size sedan that embodies supreme comfort, genuine quality, and generous features at a sharp price point. But it's what they've learned building the Genesis that counts.
Building a proper luxury sedan requires a few things of a manufacturer. Discerning engineering, for one. Discipline in design is another. Cache is a desirable third quality. Hyundai may be a little short on the third, but with the full-size Genesis sedan, they've proved convincingly that they can now engineer seriously competent vehicles.
Driving – or being driven in – the Genesis makes it near unbelievable that this Korean brand was building Excels and Accents less than fifteen years ago. Refinement and quality abound; it's plenty quick, too. And with a well-equipped base priced at $60,000, Hyundai have pitched the Genesis directly into a number of hot markets.
Is this a car you could consider alongside the similarly-priced Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, or Holden Calais V? Absolutely, although it's much bigger than all three. At five metres, the Genesis is just shy of a short-wheelbase 7 Series – and while it doesn't attempt to reach the lofty heights of 7er and S-Class refinement, the Hyundai could easily be cross-shopped against a 5 Series or E-Class.
And that is a serious complement.
ChasingCars.com.au borrowed these trims for our Hyundai Genesis review:
- 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sensory (middle trim), with the 3.8-litre aspirated V6 (232kW/397Nm) and eight-speed automatic, in Polished Metal with black leather, priced at $71,000 before on-road costs.
- 2015 Hyundai Genesis Ultimate (top trim), with the 3.8-litre aspirated V6 (232kW/397Nm) and eight-speed automatic, in Onyx Black with tan leather, priced at $82,000 before on-road costs.
Behind the wheel, the Genesis is refined, fluent, and opulent. With a smooth powertrain, excellent sound deadening and local adjustments to the already superb suspension, the Genesis drives like no Hyundai before it.
The sole motor available in Australia is an old-school 3.8-litre petrol V6. It's naturally aspirated, producing 232kW of power and 397Nm of torque, both high in the rev range. Weighing in around two tonnes, this is a heavy sedan – even with attractive power and torque numbers, it does have to be encouraged at times, and it lacks the meaty low-end torque of the turbocharged Germans. In left-hand-drive markets, a Hyundai Genesis V8 is also available.
The V6 is impressively linear and it sounds grunty and mean when revved out – but the consequence of no forced induction and no stop-start technology is painful fuel economy – 13L / 100km in combined driving isn't out of the question.
Other than below-par efficiency, the V6 is totally suited to the driving experience. There's plenty of power to tap into, and it's channelled to the rear wheels only. The eight-speed automatic, developed in house by Hyundai, is terrific – it's aimed squarely at the ZF gearbox used by BMW and it does a very good job of replicating the slurred, effortless shifts of the 5 Series.
The Genesis will also hustle keenly off the line if you're so inclined: there's a sport driving mode, paddle shifters, and a 0-100 sprint time of 6.5 seconds. Genuinely quick for something this portly.
It's not as quick around corners. In fact, it's outclassed by its German (and Japanese) competition in the handling department, as its weight shifts unwieldily around bends and the outside rear tire squirrels when you try to get power down. The steering is overly light and vague in spirited turning – so swift direction changes aren't the Genesis's game. And that's not really the point – this car is designed as a superlative highway cruiser, and the limousine-like experience in that setting is where the Hyundai does its best work.
It's near silent over quality road surfaces and impressively quiet over poor ones – and wind noise is essentially minimal, allowing you to enjoy the great stereo instead. Plus, the chassis is impressively buttoned-down, though it tends to float – ironing out imperfections, but also communicating little about the road beneath your feet.
When you drive everything, as car journalists do, you end up developing some rather unhelpful brand preconceptions. What's the default thinking about a Hyundai? Durable, get-the-job-done cars that are increasingly good, but rarely cause for song and dance.
Well, that's shattered when you first encounter the Genesis.
Entering the cabin is more a case of sinking into the plush, oversize seats. All four proper seats are supportive, with the front pews particularly well-bolstered. Sensory ($72,000) and Ultimate ($80,000) models are trimmed in much nicer leather, and have extendable thigh bolsters that take long-distance cruising to another level of ease.
Sharp pricing and Hyundai's reliability will undoubtedly make the Genesis a popular livery and hire car, and the seats in the back reflect this use: they are naturally reclined, but they aren't electrically adjustable. They needn't be – headroom and legroom are very generous, and the front passenger seat can be manipulated – along with the audio – from a control panel in the back.
But if this is a car you intend to drive, there's plenty to play with up front. All models benefit from a crisp 9.2-inch touchscreen, through which the satellite navigation and audio are controlled. The systems are easy to learn and use. They're actually more intuitive than the German equivalents which are controlled through rotary dials by the gear shifter. Music inputs are bassy and clear through the 17-speaker surround sound system that all cars get.
Material quality is generally very strong. The leathers and plastics throughout the cabin are three steps above anything found in the previous Hyundai flagship, the Santa Fe Highlander. They're comparable to Lexus GS, which is a solid benchmark. The Genesis does miss genuine wood inserts, and a bizarre exclusion is proper metal fixtures, with Hyundai opting for metal-effect plastics, which doesn't cut it at this price point or in this company.
The driving position is better than expected. The driver's seat has a good deal of adjustment – it sits low enough so that visibility is good despite a shallow windscreen. The electrically-adjustable steering wheel also falls low enough. Rearward visibility is just okay, though, though the around-view camera standard from the Sensory up helps with parking.
The Genesis is saloon-size, measuring just shy of five metres tip to tail. It's no surprise, then, that the interior feels spacious. The Ultimate model feels particularly airy with sand-coloured leather, but the more inexpensive models are restricted to a dark black interior combination that can feel a little oppressive.
The door cards are fairly wide although the glovebox is smaller than we'd like; however, there's a good array of nooks and crannies around the cabin to store the essentials. The centre bin between the front seats is particularly useful.
The Genesis is an adequate load-carrier, though it's hampered by its lack of folding seats – they're not even an option. The 493-litre boot is four litres smaller than the Holden Calais, and almost forty smaller than a Caprice – but it's certainly enough for three large suitcases. There's a pass-through for skis and awkwardly long items.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
Maintaining the Genesis is an attractive proposition: while Hyundai entrenches the idea that they can also make luxury cars, they are sensibly offering complimentary servicing for the Genesis for the first five years (or 75,000) kilometres of ownership. After that, it reverts to a lifetime capped price servicing arrangement which will continue to keep prices in check.
The car does benefit from vast progressions in Hyundai reliability made over the last decade. The build feels solid – the doors close with a very Germanic thud; all parts appear to fit together nicely, and there wasn't a squeak, rattle or thump to speak of in any of our rigorous testing.
Plus, overseas markets who have had the Genesis for much longer have reported few issues.
The other major cost of ownership is fuel consumption – and that's not a strong suit of the sole Genesis engine, the 3.8-litre V6. The official figure is 11.2L / 100km, which tells the whole story – where the Germans are battling in the 5s, 6s and 7 litre range, Hyundai's traditional, naturally aspirated engine can't keep up with that kind of economy. In a mix of town and highway driving, we saw an average of 13L / 100km in our week.
Safety inclusions are deeply generous: Hyundai have commendably added active cruise control, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking to all models. The Sensory adds a head-up display and an around-view monitor, but they've all got nine airbags. Notably, the big Hyundai achieved ANCAP's highest-ever score, and the brand is quietly claiming the Genesis is the safest car on sale in Australia.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Technically there's just one Genesis model available, with the basic package listing at just $60,000 – escaping luxury car tax. However, additional features can be added on with two trim packs: the Sensory line (taking the price to $72,000) and the Ultimate line ($80,000).
However, the best value is found in the base car. At $60,000, it plays in the territory of entry-level Germans like the Audi A4 1.8 petrol and the Mercedes-Benz C200. However, the features – and engine – of the sixty grand Genesis are closer to what you'd find in a BMW 535i or Lexus GS350.
We're talking that seventeen-speaker sound system, active cruise control, xenon headlights, a power sunshade and fully adjustable seats – all this is standard on even the basic car.
The Sensory pack does add nice creature comforts like that around-view parking monitor and nicer leather, while the Ultimate brings a sunroof and ventilated seats to the table.
But both the Sensory and Ultimate trims are much more expensive than the base car by the time you get them onto the road. Our Sensory tester, for example, was just south of $80,000 – big money for a Hyundai, even with the Genesis as strong as it is.
The right call is to save that $15,000 and take the basic car which delivers everything you'd need – at the core of it, the same engine and luxurious driving experience that all the models offer.
In many ways, the Genesis is in a league of its own: 7-Series features, 5-Series size, 3-Series price is the way Hyundai themselves have phrased the positioning of the car.
So that means that it faces many competitors, from very different segments. We've brought a representative of each here.
First, the Genesis competes against entry-level Germans:
Mercedes-Benz C250 ($68,900): the C-Class has grown in size, but the Mercedes sits in a different class entirely – both in size, being thirty centimetres shorter – and in build quality. The C-Class feels more of a baby S-Class than ever. The interior is innovative and beautiful, and the flowing lines are graceful and elegant. However, the buttoned-down and sporty ride doesn't offer the wafting, relaxed quality of the Genesis – and matching the Hyundai's features will mean ticking plenty of expensive option boxes. See C-Class review.
Second, against a good local luxury offering:
Holden Caprice V V6 ($59,490): the long-wheelbase Holden will go out of production along with other Commodore-based products in 2017. Until that point, this is a full-size saloon (15 centimetres longer than the Genesis) that is walking out of dealerships for less than $65,000. Both a 3.6-litre V6 and a 6-litre V8 are available, but the Caprice finds it hard to shake its image as a hire car, despite a new interior that's much better than clapped-out livery cars idling at the airport.
And third, against a full-size sedan from the United States:
Chrysler 300 C Luxury V6 ($51,000): the Chrysler is certainly much cheaper than the lot and it's even longer than the Hyundai. The Koreans have outdone the Americans on interior quality, though, with the 300 C full of parts raided from Chrysler's global parts bin. Plus, the big American doesn't feel as well put together, although its V6 is more efficient than the one powering in the Genesis.
|Power||232kW @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||397Nm @ 5000rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||119kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||11.2L / 100km|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Drivetrain||Rear wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Cargo space (seats up)||493L|
|Cargo space (seats down)||Seats do not fold|