The Hyundai Genesis was the South Korean automaker's first real attempt at selling luxury cars in America, back in 2009. While it hasn't been a sales champ, it's undoubtedly raised the bar for the brand, and established Hyundai as a legitimate luxury player--on an Acura level, if not Mercedes.
This year, the Genesis sedan gets a complete reworking, as Hyundai nudges it more firmly into the competitive terra firma that includes the new Acura RLX, Lexus GS, and in its loftiest ambitions, the excellent new Cadillac CTS. With the 2015 Genesis, Hyundai promises more taut performance will go hand in hand with revamped infotainment gear and more refined finishes--all for a base price of less than $40,000.2015 Hyundai Genesis styling
The first-generation Genesis had a pleasantly anodyne body, with just a few flares of South Korean style in its grille and secondary controls. The 2015 Genesis goes out of its way to blur even those touches, adopting a new roofline and grille that are striking in combination. The grille's grown up, down, and out in a shape that bears more than a passing resemblance to VW and Audi noses; the winged Genesis badge could be on a Bentley. Down the side, and especially from the rear quarters, the passing references to BMWs are unmistakeable. There may be nothing new under the sun, but at least the interpretation of global design cues works well on the new Genesis, putting some good distance between the new car and the 2009-2014 edition.
Inside, the big luxury sedan trades some vertical shapes and curved silhouettes for straight lines and sharp edges. Lexus has gone a similar route with its latest sedans, emphasizing horizontal lines and a flatter presentation that's more flattering than before. The corners of the vents flanking the central touchscreen point angle off on opposing tangents; the rectangles that divide out the space for the shift lever, cupholders, even the clock impose a regularity on the console that seems slimmer but looks more substantial.2015 Hyundai Genesis performance
Hyundai carries over the powertrains from the prior Genesis for the 2015 model year, with tweaks to improve fuel economy and performance, but has enlisted some high-wattage experts to help tune the sedan's handling.
The base engine remains a 3.8-liter V-8, now rated at 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque. It's direct-injected for better fuel economy, and runs on regular unleaded. Power is rated lower than in the 2014 model, while torque is up slightly (333 hp, 291 lb-ft). Its eight-speed automatic transmission carries over, including shift paddles and a manual-shift mode with a measure of direct gear control.
Stronger acceleration and more luxury credibility comes in the form of the 5.0-liter V-8 in pricier versions. Also direct-injected, and with impressively smooth power generation in its past life, the eight-cylinder puts out 420 hp (down a relatively insignificant 9 hp from 2014) and 383 lb-ft of torque (down a more significant 38 lb-ft). It's teamed to the same eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, too--a touch we always appreciate. Both engines integrate with a four-mode system that tailors shift quality, throttle response, and stability control to the driver's taste.
The bigger news is in traction. After rolling through the first five years as a rear-drive sedan, the Genesis adds all-wheel drive for 2015. The new system can vary the split of torque from the rear to the front wheels as traction needs arise, and Hyundai says it adds only about 165 lb to the car's weight. A Sport setting sets the nominal torque split to a more pronounced rear bias, while an Eco mode adapts to cut fuel-economy losses at highway speeds.
Fitting all-wheel drive required a redesign of the Genesis' body structure, which in turn brought more high-strength steel into the body, for much higher levels of rigidity. That in turn helps the Genesis handle better than ever, Hyundai promises. It still sports a five-link independent suspension front and rear, but with more wheel travel and stiffer construction--and some tuning help from Lotus Engineering--the Genesis, Hyundai says, has a more compliant ride and crisper response from its new electric variable-ratio power steering. An adaptive air suspension will be an option on the V-8 Genesis for a wider range of handling behavior; it can be toggled from Normal to Sport mode.2015 Hyundai Genesis comfort and utility
With its handsome new look, the Genesis gets a refactored interior and storage space. It's very slightly smaller than before, but on first look at the Detroit auto show, it's a trade-off that nets out with a nicer cockpit.
The new interior grants five passengers up to 123 cubic feet of interior space, down a couple of cubes but up several notches in comfort. The front seats can be powered in as many as 12 directions, with four-way lumbar adjustment, heating and ventilation. The rear seats can be heated as well.
Hyundai promises the best rear-seat shoulder room and front-seat headroom in its class. We'll dig into those numbers more after a first drive. We'll also take a closer look at the Genesis' redone controls, the clusters of buttons and knobs on its steering wheel and console, which Hyundai says have gotten less cluttered in this iteration.
We'll also pay close attention to what Hyundai says is better noise and vibration control--because the Genesis already was pretty good at keeping things quiet.
2015 Hyundai Genesis safety and features
In every new 2015 Genesis, Hyundai is fitting nine airbags. The new standard airbags include a driver knee bag and rear-seat side airbags. Hyundai's aiming for a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which means a strong showing in the new small-overlap crash test--which seems attainable given the amount of high-strength steel in its body.
New safety options on the Genesis will include a lane-departure warning system; adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking; blind-spot monitors; and automatic headlamps. Parking sensors and a rearview camera will be offered--and so will a new sensor that detects sleepy drivers by watching levels of carbon dioxide in the cabin.
Standard features will include all the usual power features and leather upholstery, as well as pushbutton start; Bluetooth with audio streaming; an AM/FM/XM/CD audio system with 14 speakers; and a navigation system. An upgraded navigation system gets a larger touchscreen (though control is limited to the Genesis console-mounted roller knob when the vehicle is moving) with a 64GB music drive and Lexicon audio. At the top of the audio spectrum is a Lexicon 17-speaker, 900-watt sound system. On the options list will be a hands-free trunk opener that operates with a swing of the foot under the bumper, and a head-up display.
Hyundai's second-generation Blue Link telematics system has its debut in the 2015 Genesis sedan. New features include integration with Google Glass; Google Destination Search; remote start; and a new system of notifications that reminds drivers to warm their car in warm weather, or gives recommended departure times for a destination entered into the navigation system by smartphone app. Apple's Siri Eyes Free integration is also included.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis goes on sale later this year. Stay tuned for a first drive.
- Comely new shape
- Powertrains have been high point
- All-wheel drive now an option
- Reliability has been strong
- Siri Eyes Free and Google Glass
- Still a luxury unknown