Hyundai’s premium rear-wheel-drive sedan is simply called the Genesis. There are no Hyundai badges, yet the car is sold through all Hyundai dealerships, saving the cost of a separate luxury division.
The second-generation Genesis sedan is impressive. When equipped with the Ultimate package, it has emergency braking, head-up display, blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist and a cabin CO2 sensor. The fresh styling, dominated by a hexagonal grille, a long hood and a sloping roofline, no longer looks like a Mercedes-Benz clone. The fluid lines and coupelike profile define a new design language for Hyundai, hints of which are also seen in the updated Sonata.
Buyers can choose a 3.8-liter V-6 or a 5.0-liter V-8, and the 311-horsepower V-6 is available with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that enables the driver to select Normal, Eco and Sport modes. Sport mode directs more power to the rear wheels, and that rear-wheel bias increases agility. On the highway the system directs torque to the rear wheels for better efficiency. The all-wheel-drive model is the ticket for all but those in warm climates, and it’s too bad it is not available with the V-8.
I drove a V-8-powered model from Hyundai’s press fleet, and its 420 horsepower is equal to or greater than the Mercedes-Benz E550, Infiniti M56 or Cadillac CTS twin-turbo V-6. The engine has good low-speed torque so the car can float serenely yet it also snaps to attention if you want hard acceleration. The eight-speed automatic transmission can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel. Fuel economy is rated at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on the highway.
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The rear-wheel-drive V-6 is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway while all-wheel-drive is rated at 16 city and 25 highway.
The 118.5-inch wheelbase creates a spacious cabin. Back-seat legroom is more than adequate for adults, and the trunk is generous. Hyundai’s use of high-strength steel in more than 50 percent of the total chassis platform results in a car that is 40 percent stiffer in bending rigidity when compared to the BMW 5-series. The solid foundation means the fully independent suspension can be tuned for a supple ride without sacrificing sharp handling. The adjustable suspension on the V-8 enables the driver to select either normal or sport mode.
Silky smoothness is important in a luxury car, and the Genesis is quiet.
The Genesis’ interior volume is greater than most of the other cars in its segment. The cabin is cozy and warm, with a nice combination of expensive-looking textures, wood trim and brushed aluminum. The contrasting piping on the seats was a nice touch. The use of matte-finished wood eliminates reflections while looking expensive at the same time.
Genesis has 12-way power front seats, including four-way power lumbar, heated front seats with available ventilation.
One interesting option is the CO2 sensor control system under the glove box. Hyundai said its engineers discovered that “occupants start to get drowsy when CO2 levels reached more than 2,000 parts per million, so the new ventilation system helps ensure the cabin maintains a CO2 concentration well below that level at all times using freshly-ventilated ambient air.”
The power trunk will open automatically if the smart key in the driver’s pocket or purse is within a few feet of the back bumper for three seconds. That’s nice if you have your hands full of groceries.
Genesis’ smart cruise control has a stop-start function that will brake the vehicle to a stop below 50 miles per hour using a radar sensor. The system can be used in stop-and-go traffic and it also activates automatic emergency braking.
The base price of the test car was $51,500. The optional Ultimate package includes the head-up display, navigation, Lexicon audio system, power trunk lid, continuous damping control suspension and a dual-mode vent with CO2 sensor. The sticker price was $55,700.
Five years or 60,000 miles, with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0
Engine: 5.0-liter, 420-horsepower V-8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 118.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,541 pounds
Base price: $51,500
As driven: $55,700
MPG rating: 15 in the city, 23 on the highway