What is it?
The new Hyundai Genesis in US specification, a model which made its debut in Detroit earlier this year and that’s due to come to the UK in limited numbers later this summer.
It’s aiming to build significantly on the first Genesis, which launched back in 2008. For the money, that car offered loads of features, but the lack of optional all-wheel drive and no right-hand drive limited sales. Less-than-stellar chassis dynamics and interior detailing didn’t help, either.
From listening to Hyundai’s press presentation, it’s clear the company is fully aware of the original car’s shortcomings. That’s why the new car makes greater use of high-strength steel and structural adhesives to help give it superior body rigidity to the Mercedes-Benz E-class and BMW 5-series. Hyundai even hired Lotus Engineering for chassis tuning validation. Interior quality has been improved and all-wheel drive is optional in some markets.
It’s interesting to find out that before starting development of the new Genesis, Hyundai sent a group of engineers on a European work holiday. They immersed themselves in lavish hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. They benchmarked luxury items such as Mont Blanc pens and Rolex watches, and flogged the original Genesis back-to-back against its German competition around the Nürburgring.
Hyundai wants the new Genesis to be more than a bargain-price luxury car. Instead it see the Genesis going head to head with the best in the business.
What's it like?
Quiet and refined – at least on smooth roads. It’s definitely more in the luxury vein of an SE-spec E-class, however, rather than the dynamic world of a Jaguar XF.
On rougher asphalt, the Genesis loses composure and the rear suspension crashes over potholes, while the electric steering is linear but offers little feel. It also lacks the straight-line stability of the Benz. It’s a shame because the basic chassis has great potential, the car is very neutral in smooth, fast corners and it resiliently resists understeer, even when pushed.
European Genesis models will receive unique suspension tuning, which will hopefully address some of the handling issues.
We drove the only powertrain combination that will be offered in the UK: a rear-wheel-drive, 3.8-litre petrol V6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine develops good power and is refined as long as it isn’t pushed too hard, but the fuel economy is nearly 10 per cent off that of a BMW 535i and the Hyundai lacks the low-end shove of the turbocharged 5-series.
However, it’s the lack of a diesel option that will drastically limit sales in the UK and Europe. Understanding this, Hyundai UK only expects to sell 20 to 30 cars a year.
Inside, the Korean company has worked closely with its suppliers to make sure the buttons and controls have consistent feel and weight. Our test car's top-spec 16-way adjustable seats are extremely comfortable and trimmed in rich quality leather. Rear-seat room is also excellent.
The large central navigation screen features a 720p HD display and can be controlled via touchscreen or an iDrive-like rotary controller. You can also sweep across the 233mm-wide screen like a smart phone. Also of note is the ventilation and air-con system, which uses the industry’s first CO2 sensor to help prevent drowsiness and reduce fatigue.