From £48,946
UK drive confirms car's qualities - but it still won't go on sale here

Our Verdict

Hyundai Genesis
The Hyundai Genesis is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine

The Korean firm has made progress in its quest to match executive saloons from Audi, Mercedes and BMW, but on this evidence there's still work to do

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What is it?

This is the Hyundai Genesis, the rear-wheel driven executive saloon that the Korean firm is offering up to rival BMW’s 5-series, Mercedes’ new E-class, Audi’s A6 and Lexus’ GS. A brave car indeed, then. But is it a sacrificial lamb or a revelation?

Hyundai launched this car in other parts of the world a year ago, but because it won’t be officially sold in Europe, now is our first chance to drive one in Britain. It’s a range-topping 375bhp 4.6-litre V8 that Hyundai Motor Europe has brought over for evaluation purposes.

 

What’s it like?

Hyundai’s marketing material described this car as “5-series sized, with a 7-series-sized cabin and a 3-series-sized price tag”. It’s certainly roomy and, in the US, is priced from $37,250 – that’s just under £24,000 at the current exchange rate – where a V8-powered BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-class costs a clear $60k without options.

From the kerbside, the Genesis certainly looks a bit forgettable though. That’s not to say it isn’t smart and contemporary, but the aesthetic does absolutely nothing to attract your attention. But that’s probably exactly as Hyundai intended; it must want nothing more than for this car to be accepted as ‘one of the crowd’. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that they didn’t even bother to put a badge on the front of it.

But slide aboard and the driver’s door thunks shut behind you with an expensive-sounding air of authority. A large leather and veneer steering wheel juts towards you in front of a two-tone grey and cream dashboard wrapped in leather and soft-touch plastics. Every surface has a costly-looking grain; every stalk and button moves with tactile impressiveness. So far, so very good indeed.

Thumb the starter button and the car’s 4.6-litre ‘Tau’ V8 starts to spin away distantly. Drag the gearlever down into ‘D’, release the footbrake. The wheel feels slow, heavy and inert at low speeds, but it’s precise and consistent, and effectively reminds you of the size of the five-metre hulk you’re steering.

There’s remarkably little noise from either the chassis or the engine while you’re bumbling around town; little more when you’re coursing down the motorway. At both urban and cross-country cruising speeds, in fact, the Genesis produces the same vault-like feel as a petrol-powered Lexus LS or Mercedes S-class. Ninety-nine per cent of the time you simply can’t hear either its motor or its suspension in action; there’s a little road and tyre roar and the faintest suggestion of wind noise – that’s all. Thank what Hyundai describes as an exceptionally stiff bodyshell for that.

Head off the multi-lane stuff and seek out some curves and bumps to challenge this car’s dynamic repertoire that bit more. Our test car isn’t altogether happy to be hustled along a back road; it’s on US chassis settings that leave it too softly sprung and under-damped for British roads. Still, it turns in well, and has decent balance for such a big car. The powertrain’s commendable too, with plenty of power high up in the rev range, and the same excellent six-speed ZF automatic gearbox you’ll find in so many other premium saloons.

Go faster and the picture deteriorates though. The Genesis’ consistency of steering weight and precision disintegrates without too much provocation, kicking back nastily over surface disturbances, and its stability control system intervenes with all the subtlety of an angry customs official before it allows you to learn too much about the car’s limit handling behaviour. This is clearly not a car for particularly keen drivers.

Should I buy one?

Unless you get one on a personal import, you can’t. Hyundai’s projected European sales for this car don’t justify the costs of putting it through the type approval process, let alone converting it for right-hand drive. But that’s a great shame, because there’s a great deal to recommend the Genesis.

This car is very well-built, well-appointed, generously kitted out and much more refined than you’d credit considering that it’s Hyundai’s first proper luxury saloon. It’s nothing original, of course; in lots of ways it’s a pretty slavish copy of a Lexus LS.

But a Lexus LS460 costs £61,000 here in Britain, and were Hyundai to put the Genesis V8 on sale here, it would likely cost little more than half that.

Join the debate

Comments
25

24 May 2008

[quote Autocar]

Dynamically, it feels good by the standards of the American market.[/quote]

Well if that isn't damning with faint praise, I don't know what is.

Seriously though, were I in the market for a car that scrapes 15mpg round town, looks like a cheap Chinese knock-off 5-Series and depreciates faster than a falling piano, this would be top of my list.

GD

24 May 2008

So what is it? A 7 series rival? It sounds OK, but we aready have the very slow selling VW Phaeton in this role, and I rather think that is likely to be a vastly superior offering. Why didn't Steve mention it? It doesn't sell because it doesn't have the badge. So what hope has the Hyundai? Let's face it, the Phaeton provided the underpinnings for the Bentley Continent GT and Flying Spur. Again, what hope has the Hyundai, unless it is priced alongside the Superb? No, I can understand why it is not coming to Europe.

GB

26 May 2008

Yup, definately a white elephant, even in the States, with fuel prices going through the roof and the credit crunch taking place. This car is a decade late.

Oh, and the picture of the engine, (why bother - all we ever see is a nice plastic cover design these days), states that this is a V6.

27 May 2008

So I suppose Hyundai make no apology for makinfg the front like a Mercedes, middle like a Passat and the rear like a 5 Series.

While the interior trim compares to the standard set by the Germans, the ride can only compete with the Americans!!! and this is the car they always wanted to build!!!

Stick to the bread and butter stuff.

29 May 2008

Guys, you're foolish if you don't take this car seriously. Hyundai have already shown that they can compete with the best with the i30, and they are going all guns blazing with this one. Its capabilities (at the first attempt, I remind you) indicate not only what they can do in this category, but their potential for the other ones...

www.eco-trainer.net

4 November 2008

[quote Jon Hardcastle]Stick to the bread and butter stuff.[/quote]

Oh dear. The badge snobbery here is highly entertaining. Entertaining like Bernard Manning was entertaining.

"Stick to bread and butter stuff". This is exactly the kind of garbage that people were spewing back in the late 1970s, when Datsun and Toyota had the temerity to rise above their station in life and produce (gasp) sports cars and (bigger gasp) executive cars.

The arrogant inability of US and European manufacturers to appreciate the threat posed by Japanese car makers in the 1970s is just one reason why (for example) GM is now going down the pan, and why modern Toyotas and Nissans are built in Europe.

Dynamically, any top flight Nissan or Toyota is (at the very least) the dynamic and equipment-laden equal of any equivalent European car.

Except when it comes to the badge.

In 15 years time, the likes of Hyundai will be up there with Porsche and BMW, and, Jaguar having long since disappeared, the UK PM will probably be being ferried around in one.

4 November 2008

On the question of the image of the engine - would it not be fair to suggest that the photos are maybe Hyundai supplied? There are both V6 and v8 versions.

5 November 2008

[quote Dan McNeil]In 15 years time, the likes of Hyundai will be up there with Porsche and BMW, and, Jaguar having long since disappeared, the UK PM will probably be being ferried around in one.[/quote]

Uh huh... 8-)

21 May 2009

[quote Viscount Biscuit]Yup, definately a white elephant, even in the States, with fuel prices going through the roof and the credit crunch taking place. This car is a decade late. [/quote]

Just come back from the states - $2.14 a gallon in Orlando - yes very expensive! Thats what £1.42 a gallon on current exchange rate of 1.5ish. Wish we had fuel that cheap!

People under estimate the amount of "foreign" cars in the US - mazda are doing a roaring trade with the new Mazda 3 - yes fuel in america is too expensive for a 5.7 litre v8 truck - but a car this size is still acceptable in america - and you are in fact seen as down sizing!

21 May 2009

I'm surpries Hyundai hasnt cottoned on t the idea that budget volume brands cant sell luxury cars in Europe - maybe it needs an equivalent Infiniti or Lexus nameplate to ease depreciation.

Stll with remapped Euro suspension and a low enough price tag it may sell in small numbers here.

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