True affordable luxury | It may not be perfect yet, but it’s an unbeatable value for a true luxury experience.
Our regular readers will know that I do a fair bit of complaining about my commute. Yet even after years of whining, I refuse to take the train into the city. The biggest reason I prefer to drive is because I like to have time alone in the car to wind-down, reflect on the day and alter my mindset from work mode to home mode. Ideally my commute would consist of empty twisting back-roads and I’d blast my way home in a tight handling sports car. But alas, my reality is hours of bumper to bumper traffic on one of North America’s busiest highways. The right tool for the job then is something lofty and comfortable; a car that can shut out the rest of the world and allow me to sit back in comfort while I casually pilot my way home. Of course, I am talking about a proper luxury sedan.
The problem is that until recently cars like this have proven too costly to purchase and operate for the average commuter. That has begun to change though, and one of leaders of this change has been the 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Sedan. Not just an entry level sedan with a premium badge, but true affordable luxury. That’s the appeal, and that’s why I was anxious to check out the Genesis’ latest and much-anticipated update.
In my humble opinion, if a car is going to break into the luxury market, it needs to have a definitive style. All the major luxury players have their own well-established design language that clearly separates their cars from everything else on the road. You don’t mistake a Mercedes for a Mazda or a BMW for a Toyota, do you? Hyundai has done a lot of work to distinguish the Genesis- from establishing its own classy looking emblem, drawing on the brands fluid styling and ensuring that the exterior fit and finish is top notch. That said I do feel that there is still some room for improvement here; the new Genesis does bear a resemblance to a few mainstream sedans. If Hyundai is going to keep growing the Genesis nameplate, they’ll need to clearly define the Genesis look to make it unmistakable.
Inside, however, my $53,000 Genesis 3.8L in Technology trim is far from the typical sedan and is clearly a luxury contender. Driver and passengers are pampered with a full gamete of all the latest technology and comforts. The panoramic sunroof, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 9.2” HD navigation screen and phenomenal Lexicon 14-speaker sound system are just some of the top shelf quality luxury features I was lucky enough to enjoy during my week with the Genesis. All these toys require a lot of controls, so the Genesis has a slew of buttons on the dash to the right of the driver and another set in the center stack. Many of the buttons are labelled with little diagrams that are unclear and confusing, and this means finding controls while driving can take some getting used to.
Beyond just the gadgets though, the seats in the Genesis are very, very impressive. Not only were they beautifully accented with black piping on soft leather, but they are some of the most perfectly comfortable seats I’ve encountered. Hyundai is approaching Volvo levels of comfort with these seats. Another feature that I honestly really took notice of is the acoustically laminated glass; that is a sound dampening film inserted between the two panes of glass that makes up the windows of the Genesis. The addition of the film helps keep noise levels while cruising on the highway in the Genesis below even those in some of the priciest luxury sedans.
All that luxury is wrapped up in a very nicely put-together interior; the overall look and feel is very premium. I would have liked to see more use of the wonderful leather used on the seats on some of the other surfaces. The dash, for example, is made of a soft touch rubber- nice but not up to the standards set by the rest of the car. On the other hand, it’s these materials that help to make this car attainable to the common consumer, so I am happy to accept it. The interior is accented by slabs of open pore natural wood. Personally I am a high gloss wood type of guy, but everyone else that saw the Genesis loved the natural finish, so clearly I am in the minority on that one.
The experience from behind the wheel of the Genesis 3.8 is very refined and relaxing. It’s not trying to be a firm road-hugging sports sedan; it’s a luxury cruiser first and foremost and that’s how I like it. The steering is light and easy, yet provides enough feedback to keep you aware of the cars connection to the road. The ride is equally refined and does an excellent job isolating you from the annoyances of rough city roads. Most impressive however is the 3.8L GDI V6 and its butter smooth delivery of 311 horsepower. Throttle response is excellent and the engine has plenty of low range torque, making the big Korean sedan feel much faster than it really is. Highway passing is effortless and the 8-speed Shift-Tronic automatic is quick to respond to both the paddle shifters and “go-pedal” inputs. While a 420-horsepower 5.0L V8 is available on the Genesis, it comes with a hefty $9000 premium. Even while lugging the heavy AWD sedan through traffic, the V6 still managed to produce a respectable 11.8L/100km.
After a particularly stressful work day, I slid into the Genesis’ perfect driver’s seat, opened up the sunroof to let the late day sunshine in and cruised home blaring some of my favorite tunes. I quickly forgot all my troubles and arrived home an hour and a half later with a relaxed smile on my face. Yes, this is a proper luxury sedan and just what I need, all for $11,000 less than a comparable Acura RLX and $19,000 less than a loaded Cadillac CTS. It may not be perfect yet, but it’s an unbeatable value for a true luxury experience.