At the other end of the scale to Hyundai’s small, smart hero cars, the trend-reversing Genesis is large, luxurious and lavishly thirsty. The question is, who wants one?
Engine: 3.8L 6cyl petrol
Safety: stability control + ABS + auto braking + 9 airbags
Value: * * * * 1/2
Hyundai has launched its corporate showpiece, the Genesis, in a rapidly shrinking market segment that local manufacturers are escaping. With other long-wheelbase prestige models such as Fairlane and Statesman disappearing and only the hotel/chauffeur market desperate for such cars, you have to ask why?
Well, quite simply Genesis is a showpiece for Hyundai engineering, as the company is now primed to move on from simply stamping out reliable mainstream models. Hyundai reckons it has launched its most significant, sophisticated and technologically advanced car yet.
Physically and mechanically, Genesis is a single model. It has a 3.8L V6 petrol engine, 8spd automatic transmission and multi-link independent rear-wheel-drive. It starts at $60,000 for a well-equipped base car, however this can be augmented by two option packs, Sensory and Ultimate, which take the price up to $71,000 and $82,000 respectively.
Safety and comfort
In addition to cabin space and comfort, particularly for rear occupants, safety is a primary focus for Genesis. Nine airbags including side (thorax) bags front and rear, a full-length curtain bag and a driver knee bag are standard, as is autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control and seatbelt crash preparation. There are also smart high-beam and cornering lights, lane-departure warning and tyre-pressure monitoring. Combined with good body structure, Genesis has one of the highest recorded ANCAP safety scores.
Cabin presentation is elegant, with high-end leather capped by subtle timber and satin metal trim. Front occupants enjoy heated, 12-way power-adjusted seats and dual-zone air-conditioning. Drivers get the benefits of a proximity key, premium multi-function steering wheel with adjustable (3/5/7-flash) turn signal, 9.2-inch satellite navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, a rear-view camera and a parking assist system. Clearly identified switches and touch-screen functions are good but you will forever be wiping fingerprints off the latter.
Overall, four occupants are cossetted in large, sculptured seats, with a notably wide centre console divider up front and more than the usual focus on rear seating comfort, although the centre rear remains a temporary spot. Anticipating business people riding in the back, there’s considerably more leg, foot and head room than in the average sedan, a large centre console for documents with individual overhead spot lighting and a full control panel for climate and audio as well as over-ride travel and rake adjustment of the front passenger seat. Large doors and rear wheel-arch intrusion makes rear seat access not as convenient as might be expected.
Genesis is no lightweight at 1995kg in full trim, but the cabin feels solid and well insulated. There is solar control glass, a powered rear window blind, one-touch power windows, interior mood lighting, puddle lighting using a Genesis logo and a 17-speaker premium sound system. ISOFIX is provided along with child-seat anchorages on a substantial rear parcel shelf. As a result, boot space is smaller than might be expected, although it has easy access. Genesis has a hands-free power boot opening, and it carries a space-saver spare wheel despite providing space for a full-size road wheel.
Genesis offers two option packs. Sensory adds $11,000 to the base price to provide the additional safety of cameras for blind spot, cross traffic, lane change and 360-degree vision, along with head-up-display, premium leather, driver’s seat memory with power bolster and extendable base, power adjustable steering, auto-dipping outer mirrors and LED fog lamps.
For another $11,000, the Ultimate pack includes a panoramic glass sunroof, soft-closing door latches, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, noise-reducing glass, a 7-inch LCD screen and 19-inch wheels. Annoying among all the technology is a sound system that still requires constant volume adjustment with road speed.
In keeping with typically well-engineered luxury cars, Genesis delivers an uncanny smoothness and quietness with a comforting ease in the way it moves and handles. The 3.8L V6 has the potential to deliver 232kW and just shy of 400Nm, and backed by the silky 8spd automatic it can sprint from rest to 100kmh in just 7.0 seconds. More importantly, given the car’s not inconsiderable mass, there is always sufficient power on tap and seemingly a gear for every occasion. It feels more agile than it should with outstanding auto gear-shifting and delivers impressive responsiveness for passing or hill climbing. So why does it have supplementary gear-shift paddles on the steering wheel, which are out of character in such a car?
Hyundai has engineered a refined feel to the ride and handling package, and while possessing the ride quality of a limousine, Genesis has good steering feel and cornering sharpness that again belies its size. Regrettably fuel consumption fails to match the current downward trend of vehicles overall. Remarkably, our test car achieved a real-world average of 10.6L/100km overall, against the government average of 11.2L/100km but our test week was mainly highway and country driving. Our suburban-only runs returned 11.4L/100km. All up, these numbers are more in the realm of a 6.0L Holden Commodore V8.
Also surprising is Hyundai’s statement that Genesis is not engineered for towing, which means you’ll need the other car even for a garden trailer. In addition to now well-established build quality, Genesis is covered by Hyundai’s usual five-year/unlimited km warranty, and as a bonus has Hyundai iCare which means complementary servicing for five years/75,000km.
Hyundai’s sustained growth sees another barrier shattered, with Genesis successfully cracking the exclusive rear-wheel-drive luxury saloon market. Underpinned by a refined driveline, it also delivers the performance and poise more commonly found in European marques. Pricing, option packs and fuel economy are less convincing.