Hyundai has presented a very compelling argument for the modern upscale buyer.
One of my very good friends works at Hyundai Canada on the corporate side. He’s also a hardcore car guy and purist of the best kind. Therefore, I’m often forced to endure drivel about just how far the Korean manufacturer’s automobiles have come, and how their latest products have an indescribable amount of research and development invested to ensure the highest quality possible. Often times, after sampling these products for myself, I’m inclined to agree. This fall, three members of our team had to attend an International Motor Press Association conference down in New York State, and the time had come to choose an appropriate steed for the trip down.
When a long road trip is in store (this one would be about 1800km round trip), there are a few factors to consider with regards to the vehicle chosen. In this case, we needed space for three full-sized adults, luggage for three days, helmets for race track use, and our usual arsenal of camera gear. Comfort was a high priority, followed by ride quality and overall efficiency. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Luxury suddenly became available a couple weeks before our trip, and our friends at Hyundai were kind enough to offer it up. Two of the three team members on the drive had already spent a significant amount of time with the Genesis, but we were happy to revisit this car in its natural element – the open highway.
The Hyundai Genesis line actually boasts two separate cars now – the Genesis Coupé is still a rear-drive sports car that competes with the likes of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. This four-door tested here is a luxury sedan that rivals big names in the industry, specifically the BMW 5-series, Lexus GS350 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It’s a little bit larger in size than all of these cars, but Hyundai insists that the level of luxury and technology on board makes the Genesis a value proposition. Our test vehicle was one level up from the base model, the 3.8 Luxury Package, and is intended to be a volume seller for the brand.
The Genesis is beautifully styled in my eyes; the lines are conservative and the car has a nice hunkered-down stance that gives it a very premium look. Lighting is LED all around, with xenon projector headlights and puddle projection of the “Genesis” logo. There’s no Hyundai logo up front – they’ve chosen to implement the Genesis wings here. On the trunklid is the sole Hyundai logo the car bears, tastefully located in the center. A huge dual-pane panoramic sunroof sets off the exterior perfectly, and I guarantee nobody will be able to guess at first glance that this large, luxurious-looking sedan is a Hyundai.
One may assume that on the inside, the sedan begins to show signs of cheapness. This isn’t the case in the slightest – Hyundai has taken great strides to maintain the aura of pure luxury inside the Genesis. There’s matte open-pore wood strategically placed throughout the cabin that feels better than some wood surfaces available in Mercedes-Benz products, and the metallic accents look like they’re right out of a new Porsche. The front seats are incredibly comfortable and give great back support for the longer haul. All three of us took turns rotating around the car throughout our trip, and we were all perfectly content with the cockpit.
The rear seats could use some work; there’s plenty of head and legroom for passengers but the seats are rather hard and the headrests dug into the back of our heads more than we’d like. At 6’1, I wasn’t able to get comfortable in the rear and insisted on hogging the front seats more throughout the drive. The seats overall did look very durable, and even though they were a light shade of beige, they didn’t look worn at all despite a few thousand kilometers of media test use prior to our receiving it. The front seats are 12-way power adjustable, heated, and cooled with lumbar adjustment on both sides – in short, they’re an ideal place to spend 2,000km.
The base Genesis 3.8 Premium costs $41,000 before taxes and fees with current incentives, and already comes generously equipped. At this price it includes leather interior, the navigation system with 8.0” touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, Smart Trunk, rear-view camera, and, as a Canadian exclusive, all-wheel-drive. Stepping up to the Luxury Package adds $5,000 to the price, coming in at $46,000. It adds the ventilated seats, premium Napa leather, a 14-speaker Lexicon surround sound system, rear side window sunshades, the panoramic sunroof, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a few other things.
What’s interesting about the packaging on the Luxury model is that despite having side window shades, there’s no power blind for the rear window. I know that stepping up to a higher trim level will include this, but I’d rather it be packaged so it’s either all or none, so that those opting to nap on longer drives have maximum privacy. Additionally, we noticed a strange fitment issue for the rubber trim that aligns the back of the B-pillar; it sticks out and adds a sense of cheapness that’s not present anywhere else in the car. I’d assume that on something like a Lexus GS or a BMW 5-series, this would be corrected by having two separate trim pieces.
Throughout our trip, we had to make heavy use of the navigation system. Typically we use Google Maps or even Waze on our phones, but this specific voyage involved a good chunk of driving in areas with zero cell phone coverage. The Genesis was our savior here – the GPS navigation system responded instantaneously to inputs and made inputting new destinations a cinch. Unlike other systems where fumbling with city, street, and POI information can take up to ten minutes before your destination is set, by the time passengers got comfortable, the Genesis had us pointed in the right direction using the shortest routes available.
The powertrain though – that’s where this Genesis seriously impressed us all. Hyundai will sell you a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 as well, and that motor is good for over 400 horsepower. This is the 3.8L V6 with direct injection, and it’s the motor I’d have. Even though the V8 has more power, it comes with a lot of added weight, which makes the car feel noticeably porkier. The direct-injected 3.8L pushes 311 horsepower and 293 lb-ft of torque to the road with far more urgency and eagerness. The Genesis holds the road with no effort, and feels creamy while doing it.
Adding to the Genesis’ smoothness is the eight-speed automatic transmission, the only available gearbox on the sedan. Not to be confused with the ZF eight-speed, this box is built in-house by Hyundai. If the need arises to drive this luxury sedan in a sportier manner, there is a “Sport” drive mode as well as decently responsive paddle shifters located on the steering wheel. This transmission does feel a lot similar to the ZF 8HP when upshifting, and I expect it to be reliable for years to come. Acceleration from the V6 is seamless and quick, but obviously not as blatantly fast as the V8. The car was very responsive when pushing it through the mountainside in upstate New York, absorbing the beauty of the state’s October foliage.
Road trips that consist of primarily highway driving give us the opportunity to test the fuel mileage of our test vehicle perfectly. Hyundai suggests 14.4L/100km in the city, 9.4L/100km on the highway, and a combined estimate of 12.1L/100km. Much to our surprise, our entire trip resulted in an average of 9.2L/100km, slightly better than Hyundai’s highway rating. Upon our return, the Genesis was driven around for my daily commute for the remainder of the week, and the average got no worse than 10.5L/100km. Adding to our surprise is the fact that the 3.8L motor can accept regular 87-octane fuel with no issues.
Here we have a premium vehicle that’s been built to a standard that allows it to compete with the big German brands. There may be some slight corners cut, but every single compromise has been carefully analyzed by Hyundai and has been made in favour of keeping the price tag low. The closest competitor to our tester is the loaded Lexus GS350 we tested a couple of months ago, with a sticker price of just over $66,000. The top-trim Genesis 3.8 is the Technology Package, which can be had for $51,000. At a $15,000 discount over the Lexus and significantly more than that over the BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi, Hyundai has presented a very compelling argument for the modern upscale buyer.