2015 Hyundai Genesis RWD 3.8Posted on April 15th, 2015
Luxury sport sedan hits the sweet spot
By Nina Russin
My favorite episode of “The Simpsons” is the one in which Homer attempts to build the Homermobile. Creating a new car is not an easy task: just ask anyone who’s tried it.
As a journalist who has witnessed Hyundai’s evolution during its twenty-years in the North America, I continue to be impressed by far the company has raised the bar and continues to do so. The second-generation Genesis sedan that debuts for the 2015 model year is a case in point.
As nice as the original 2009 model was, the new sedan is doubly good, improving on every aspect of design, engineering and user interface. It’s a home run.
Hyundai describes the Genesis as a premium sedan simply because Hyundai is not a luxury brand. But the new Genesis is as much a luxury car as the Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW models it competes against.
The sedan is available with two engine choices: a 3.8-liter V-6 or 5-liter V-8, with rear or all-wheel drive. The 3.8-liter rear-wheel drive test car starts at $38,000, excluding the $950 destination charge. Two convenience option packages and a technology group that includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and parking assist bring the final MSRP to $49,950.
Strategy for success
When Hyundai arrived stateside in the early nineties, the company invoked a three-prong strategy, choosing good mentors, pricing its products competitively and letting customers know that their business was highly valued via programs such as the ten-year/100,000 mile warranty.
While nobody wants to hear negative feedback about a product, Hyundai engineers were willing to listen to the voices of their customers and fix mistakes as necessary.
Here’s an example: the center stack display on the 2009 Genesis was almost impossible to see in bright sunlight. The display’s blue background made the black print hard to read, and the screen was angled in such a way that the protective hood couldn’t adequately shade it.
The center stack display in the new Genesis is one of the nicest I have ever seen: ditto for the TFT gauge cluster. Both are easy to read in any lighting condition, with clear, attractive graphics. From the display design to the way in which a wealth of information ranging from navigation to audio controls is organized, the displays are flawless.
Hyundai’s fluidic design has matured as well under the tutelage of Peter Schreyer: undoubtedly one of the most gifted car designers in the industry. Gone are the almost cartoonish exterior proportions, in place of which are graceful lines that convey the same message of speed and aerodynamic efficiency with an elegance the car previously lacked.
Fit and finish is exceptional throughout the vehicle. Engineers improved the car’s torsional stiffness through the use of high tensile steels and redesigned the suspension for better ride comfort. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission that works seamlessly and delivers the 29 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy on the 3.8-liter test car.
The interior is not only attractive, it’s also extremely practical, with ergonomic seating, good ventilation throughout the passenger cabin, an abundance of storage spaces including a locking glovebox, attractive lighting and an available panoramic sunroof. The trunk with power trunk lid has plenty of room for luggage, groceries and golf clubs. A pass-through enables owners to load in longer items such as skis.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
My 100-mile test drive included surface streets and highways throughout the east valley area. I had the opportunity to get the engine up to speed and test active safety features such as blind spot monitoring in congested areas around downtown Phoenix and Tempe.
Although it lacks the brute power of the 5-liter V-8, the 3.8-liter V-6 in the test car is no wallflower. Acceleration is firm and linear, with plenty of power on the low end for moving off the line and merging on highway entrance ramps, and enough on the high end for passing slower vehicles. The engine is designed to run on 87-octane fuel unlike the bigger block for which 91-octane is recommended.
The eight-speed gearbox is well matched to the engine with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions. Drivers wanting more aggressive performance can use formula-style paddles on the steering wheel to manually select gears.
Response from the electric power steering system is virtually indistinguishable from a hydraulic setup, which is to say, very good. There is plenty of assist on the low end for maneuverability and solid on-center response at speed.
The redesigned five-link front and rear independent suspension delivers as promised, with a light, fluid ride. In the corners, the chassis is pancake-flat. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I did notice a tendency for the blind spot monitoring system to get confused in certain types of traffic. For example, there were a couple of times when it signaled a car in my path when I wanted to change lanes. Looking around, the vehicle in question was either far enough behind me not to be a problem or two lanes over. The rearview camera with cross traffic alert makes it much easier to monitor moving vehicles in crowded parking lots.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing engine, road and wind noise intrusion to the interior, making it easy for both rows of passengers to converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.
The 2015 Genesis sedan received a five star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety features include seven airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, whiplash resistant front seatbacks and tire pressure monitoring with an individual tire pressure display.
The all-new Genesis sedan is rolling into Hyundai dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish yet practical sedan with excellent power and handling. Hyundai continues to offer its customers great value with a high level of standard convenience features and its ten-year/100,000 mile factory warranty.
Dislike: Expensive option packages significantly increase MSRP.
Model: Genesis RWD3.8 sedan
Base price: $38,000
As tested: $49,950
Horsepower: 311 Hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 293 lbs.-ft. @ 5,0000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 18/29 mpg city/highway
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