It may be new to Australia, but the Hyundai Genesis arrives highly credentialed from the markets where the brand has been on sale for some time. Strip away the badge, and it could be mistaken for something higher up the status ladder than its $60,000 starting price suggests, even if the $82,000 top of the line model does encroach on German territory (both prices pre on-road costs).
Hyundai’s premium-class Genesis was introduced to the Australian market in November 2014 and, so far, 245 have found their way onto the road. That’s not a bad figure for a new premium-class car, but it still means a pretty thin spread nationally.
The aspirations are clear, but whether or not Hyundai’s sumptuous Genesis will grab the attention of Australian buyers over the long term is another thing altogether.
It’s not the first time that a car-maker more known for its activities at the lower end of the market has had, or continues to have, a crack at the prestige/luxury segment.
Hyundai has been toying for some time with the concept of a local expansion upwards, sending regular on-and-off messages before taking the plunge last year with the now second-generation Genesis.
However you look at it, it appears to be a brave – and expensive – way of broadening a market base.
That said, and although it’s way too early to make a definitive judgement, Hyundai hasn’t been absent from the charts, and those 245 sales – how many of which are in-house registrations is not known – are better than other representatives of the below $70,000 large-car segment such as Peugeot, which managed 144 sales of its 508 model, or Skoda’s Superb, which accounted for just 116 sales in the same period.
In fact stepping up to the $70,000-plus category where the Hyundai really coexists, it isn’t doing too badly either. Its figures so far are better than the Audi A6 (200 sales) and are not that far short of the likes of Jaguar’s XF (283).
They’re the figures, but the interesting thing is how thoroughly – and you’d have to say confidently – Hyundai has entered into its premium-market bid.
That the Genesis is into its second-generation is significant in itself, as are the various accolades it has gathered – including being named 2009 North American car of the year – in its short existence.
And for us in our remote island location, it’s kind of nice to know local suspension development played a big part in preparation for its Australian launch.
The Hyundai Genesis is a big car with big aspirations.
Dimensionally, it out-measures the likes of BMW’s 5 Series, or the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and promises comparable technology and refinement, plus more than competitive equipment levels.
As its actual roots decree, it is way less expensive than what it considers to be its real market rivals.
There’s no real need to go into any direct comparisons, but at $60,000 plus on-road costs for the entry level model tested here, the Hyundai is in a different stratosphere to its German rivals.
In fact with a glittering array of standard electronic safety and comfort aids, the base Korean’s only real oversight is its lack of memory settings for the driver’s seat.
From the beautifully resolved styling to the sumptuous and feature-laden interior, the Genesis looks the real deal, although inexplicably it doesn’t seem to have quite the attention to fine detail evident in the German ruling class.
It’s all there, from soft-touch surfaces to tastefully presented dash details, to leather-trimmed multi-adjustable seats – but there’s a certain monochrome nature to the base Genesis interior that falls short of making passengers feel they are cosseted in uncompromising luxury.
But as a dimensional comparison will quickly show, the Genesis is not lacking for passenger space. It’s a place where even tall passengers will find plenty of room to stretch out and there are lots of niceties for those in the back seat, including a power blind for the rear window, controls for the HVAC, sound and sat-nav systems, and even the ability to remotely manipulate the front passenger’s seat in order to maximise rear legroom on that side. Just don’t let the kids loose in the back.
At 493 litres, the boot isn’t bad either – although there’s no split-fold function, only a central ski port for loading long items.
And the five-star ANCAP Genesis (the company says it scored the highest-ever crash-test ANCAP figure) comes with nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring and front seatbelts that cinch down once the car is under way. It also gets auto high beam xenon headlights, a park-assist system, a rearview camera, static cornering lights and a hands-free power-opened boot.
Driver and passenger aids include a massive 9.2-inch screen, 12-way adjustable and heated front passenger and driver’s seats, dual-zone climate control, a premium 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, an electrochromatic rearview mirror and neat “puddle” lights that project Genesis graphics onto the ground adjacent the passenger and driver’s door at night.
Comfortably ensconced in the Genesis, driver and passengers will quickly note how quiet (the aerodynamic drag figure is a claimed 0.26 Cd) and smooth this car is.
The short-stroke, direct-injected, normally aspirated and dual CVVT 3.8-litre V6 is exceptionally subdued and, with decent outputs of 232kW at 6000rpm and a commendable 397Nm of torque developed at 5000rpm – 90 per cent of which is available between 2000rpm and 6000rpm – always feels adequately responsive.
Hyundai’s claimed zero to 100km/h figure is a reasonably swift 6.5sec and the big 1890kg car never feels tardy in city driving or on the open road.
The in-house eight-speed auto transmission is pretty neat, too. It seems to effortlessly find the right ratio for any given need and allows the driver to intervene via steering wheel paddles if it’s considered necessary.
Equally as pleasing, and indicative of the overall competence of the Genesis, is the ride quality and handling. With its stretched-out 3010mm wheelbase it rides extremely well yet – no doubt partly due to extensive Australian input to suspension calibrations – it points and clings with the degree of competence you’d hope for in a big premium sedan.
Complementing the quiet assuredness of the suspension, the variable-ratio electric steering is quick (it goes from lock to lock in 2.5 turns), nicely weighted and responsive too.
On test, we found the Genesis pretty much matched the thirsty, claimed 11.2L/100km average fuel consumption figure – in fact it did come in slightly lower, in the high 10s, due to our freeway-biased week with the car – and were gratified to note that it asks for a diet of regular unleaded fuel. The handbook doesn’t rule out E10 fuel, but doesn’t exactly encourage its use either.
On the downside, the Hyundai’s size, weight and performance contributed to a hefty, not entirely unexpected CO2 figure of 261g/km.
In the end, the big question is how confidently you should stump up the minimum $60,000 to get yourself into a Hyundai Genesis.
The company feels it has you covered with a five-year, unlimited kilometer warranty that builds in complimentary servicing for the for the first five years or 75,000km, along with lifetime capped-price servicing and three years of free map updates. The 12-month roadside assist programme can be extended to 10 years, provided you attend a Hyundai dealership for scheduled servicing.
The icing on the cake is the guaranteed buy-back programme that comes with the Genesis.
In the end, it’s not a matter of how much you offer for the money, so much as the elusive business of convincing the market that your product has the innate quality – not to mention the status – of the long-established luxury marques.
The Genesis is off to a promising start.