We never really believed it when we first heard it, but Hyundai really is going after the Germans.
The South Korean automaker has never found a segment they didn't like, but their quest for a foothold in the premium luxury segment is surprising. After all, Kia and Hyundai spent a very long time being associated with disposable cars. Quality was, and is still not the first thing that comes to mind when the brand's name is mentioned.
Hyundai has decided that it's time to be taken seriously as a quality automaker. Hyundai has come a long way from the Excel in 1986. No longer do they need to offer 10 year warranties to reassure buyers. As well, part of their incentive is so that they don't have all their eggs in the cheap-car basket once China's automobiles arrive. Nobody wants to have to compete with China on price.
In 2009, Hyundai launched the Genesis. This initial foray into the premium segment was under whelming. They imitated the styling of the big dogs, over delivered on features and undercut them on price, but they still weren't even close to being in the same ballpark. It suffered from poor handling, and even worse styling.
Fast forward to the next generation of the Hyundai Genesis. This redesigned model is gaining praise, in particular for it's distinctive design. It's well tailored, like most European sedans, with attractive, flowing lines. It's not entirely original, some aspects appear to have been borrowed, such as a grille that makes us think of Audi, a logo reminiscent of Aston Martin and puddle lamps like those offered by Land Rover.
Upon opening the doors, prepared to be impressed with the huge amount of space, including the trunk. It's comfortable and conservative, with attention paid to ergonomic design. Seats are not only heated, but offer a massage feature. To keep drivers alert, a CO2 sensor pumps in fresh air when carbon dioxide levels exceed a particular threshold.
It is loaded up with gadgets, ones that seem remarkably intuitive and easy to use. The nav system comes with a 9.2 inch hd screen, and a 64-gig hard drive for your music that can be blasted through a 17 speaker, 900 watt sound system. A heads-up display and a hands-free trunk opener are definitely welcome additions.
On the safety front, it comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, high-beam assist and lane departure warning.
The driving experience offered by the 2015 Hyundai Genesis has been greatly improved. Driving dynamics have been beefed up, through a stiffer chassis, a new longer multilink suspension and suppression of vibration, harshness and noise. Steering feel and control are also improved. Weight distribution is 52 percent front and 48 percent rear.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is powered by a 3.9-litre V6, capable of 311 hp, mated to an 8-speed transmission. For the first time, an all-wheel drive version is now available. So is a 5-litre V8 model, which boosts horsepower up to 420 with 383 lb-ft of torque.
Whether or not they pull it off remains to be seen, but Hyundai is learning from the German masters. They may never have the cachet of a German premium car, but they're getting much closer to offering a comparable vehicle, at a lower price.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca