FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan

The handsome new Genesis boasts a carload of technology, safety features and refinement

Published: May 5, 2014, 6:00 PM
Updated: May 4, 2018, 7:25 PM

2015 Hyundai Genesis - front 3/4 view - Best New Luxury Car >$50K - 2015 Hyundai Genesis  The 2015 Hyundai Genesis beat out the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid and Cadillac ATS Coupe to be named the Best New Luxury Car >$50K

VERNON, BC – The Hyundai Genesis, which was introduced in 2009, was the brand’s first foray into the luxury segment. Initially, it was met with skepticism but it impressed Canada's auto journalists sufficiently to win Canadian Car of the Year honours at the time and has since gone on to earn a small but loyal following.

Hyundai has accomplished a great deal in the interim, not the least being a proven and enviable record of quality and reliability.

The second generation Genesis, arriving this spring, is another quantum step forward, showcasing the company’s prowess on a number of fronts, including design, engineering and technology.

"We are planting a stake in the ground with this car, showing what we are capable of," said Steve Kelleher, Hyundai Canada’s president and CEO, during the unveiling.

Impressive record

It was the last official duty for Kelleher, Canada’s longest-serving auto company chief executive, who was retiring the following day. Under his guidance Hyundai has achieved remarkable levels of success with sales more than doubling in the last 10 years.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - logo detail

Hyundai now sells more cars than any other company in the country and has risen to sixth place overall when trucks are included – fifth in some months, including the most recent.

Last year saw yet another new record and the company finished the year in the top four in the sub-compact, compact, compact SUV, sporty and intermediate categories.

Neither Kelleher nor any other Hyundai executive expects the new Genesis to achieve the same level of success in the luxury segment. But they do predict sales will more than double as more Canadians move up from other Hyundai products or venture into a Hyundai showroom.

More presence

When they do, what they will find in the new Genesis is a thoroughly engineered new car that boasts a carload of technology, safety features and refinement.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - rear 3/4 view

It's based on a dedicated premium platform with a sophisticated all-wheel drive system, driven by V-6 or V-8 engines through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Completed under the guidance of noted designer and now Hyundai president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, the new Genesis has more presence. From the new single frame hexagonal grille, HID headlights and LED daytime running and fog lights to the LED tail-lights, it looks much larger and more imposing than the outgoing model.

It has grown a mere 5-mm in length but a 75-mm stretch in wheelbase, minimal front overhang and small rear quarter windows visually lengthen the car while providing the most passenger volume in the segment.

Minimalist chic interior

Inside, horizontal design elements and Scandinavian-like minimalism, instead of acres of chrome and hundreds of buttons and knobs, lend a touch of class.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - steering wheel and instrument panel

The trim consists of real aluminum and several types of open-core wood crafted by furniture makers in Italy and shipped to South Korea for cutting and fitting. Genuine Napa leather gilds the lily.

Coming from a position of strength and newfound confidence, Hyundai has developed a logo specific to the Genesis that is displayed prominently in the centre of the steering wheel and road wheels, as well as.above the grille.

The Genesis boasts several unique touches that are both entertaining and useful. Approach the car at night and as the doors are unlocked, puddle lights sourced beneath the power/folding side mirrors project the Genesis name and logo on the ground beneath.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - front seats

Approach the car from the rear with the doors locked and key fob on your person, wait three seconds and the trunk will open automatically on some trim levels.

If you opt for the stunning, optional audio system you will have the ability to record songs onto a hard drive. It doesn’t matter if you missed the first of the tune, it will trace it back to the start and record from there.

A C02 monitoring system ensures the right level of oxygen to keep occupants alert.

The 2015 Genesis comes in Premium and Luxury levels with the V-6 engine and Technology and Ultimate levels with the V-8.

All-wheel-drive in all

It's the first Hyundai passenger car with AWD – a sophisticated unit developed by Magna Powertrain that is also used by BMW, Cadillac and Jaguar among others. It gets unique tuning for the Genesis with more emphasis on power distribution as it related to handling.

2015 Hyundai Genesis -HTrac 3.8 logo detail

Ron Frawley, global product manager, 4WD systems for Magna Powertrain, says the transfer case acts as a continuously-variable centre differential that is able to redirect power from the rear wheels to the front continuously, varying the distribution from 0-to-100% at either end.

The unit has its own ECU and a patented electromechanical shift actuation unit reacts to everything from steering angle to throttle position. In normal driving, it uses a 40/60 split for a rear-drive feel.

Select Sport mode and it can switch to up to 10/90, depending on conditions. The dry weather and a wide variety of roads here in the Okanagan Valley as well as a wet-track, provided opportunity to experience and become mightily impressed with the system.

New-found dynamic prowess

Hyundai has already tackled and conquered quality and reliability, engines and transmissions, brakes and design. It is able to compete head-to-head in any of these areas.

But driving dynamics have lagged behind – until now. Chassis dynamics and suspension tuning were the last hurdles to be cleared by the brand.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - rear end

The development team put a big bulls-eye on this area and with help from Lotus engineering and many kilometres of tortuous fine tuning at various locations, including the famous Nurburgring track in Germany, the 2015 Genesis has made a quantum leap.

No longer does it wallow like a whale or fall on its face when pushed hard. It behaves with the same alacrity we expect of the finest European sports sedans.

There are a myriad of small details involved in reaching this newfound balance of ride and handling. In addition to the sophisticated AWD system’s ability to send power where needed, for example, the anti-roll bars in each model differ and the V-8 gets unique shock absorbers and larger rear tires.

Also contributing is an extremely rigid chassis thanks to extensive use of advanced high strength steel from the company’ own plant.

Pushed very hard in the turns the Genesis still understeers, but it sticks!

Performance plus value

Both the V-6 and V-8 engines have been carried over from the existing Genesis but they have been retuned for better low-end torque and response at the expense of a few horsepower.

2015 Hyundai Genesis - engine compartment

The six produces a healthy 311-horsepower and the eight 420. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but this is hefty vehicle tipping the scales at more than two tonnes.

Performance with the six is impressive and more than adequate. The lighter engine aids chassis balance as well and I would not hesitate to recommend this engine over the V-8, although that lovely unit does sound fantastic and perform impressively!

Since this is a Hyundai it is packed with value with an extensive list of standard or optional equipment that give it a distinct price advantage over the competition.

These features include autonomous emergency braking that can bring the car to a complete stop and adaptive cruise control that can do the same and resume when the vehicle in front moves.

Other standard or available features include a configurable heads-up-display (HUD), blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and warning and high beams that automatically dim in the face of oncoming traffic.

The 2015 Genesis was benchmarked against the Audi A6, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class and while it may not have the cachet of those brands, they would be wise to keep an eye on the rear view mirrors.

In the meantime consumers aspiring to a German luxury car, but unable to come up with or justify the added cost, would be well advised to check out the 2015 Genesis.