Badge snobs look away, the Hyundai Genesis has arrived at the UK shores and boy does it have to prove itself. This is Hyundai’s halo car, a 5-meter executive saloon with all the tricks of the Korean company thrown at it, the flagship that made the US market fall in love with it.
Already in its second generation, the Genesis is now reaching Europe, including a right-hand drive version for the UK, to demonstrate Hyundai’s ability in making a proper luxury sedan. There is only one tiny problem though and that is the price, with Hyundai asking for a rather hefty £48,005 (about $72,700 at today’s exchange rates) for the privilege of owning one.
Combine this with the fact that there is no diesel option available and you can guess that the Genesis will remain a very rare sight on this corner of the planet. The only engine available is a 3.8-litre petrol V6 which makes 311hp and 293lb-ft (397Nm) of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic. CO2 emissions, upon which is calculated the road tax cost, are rated at a massive 261g/km. To give you a perspective, McLaren’s 570S is rated at 258g/km. This is after all a model developed with the US market in mind.
From the inside
Open the door, throw yourself at the comfy driver’s seat and you are greeted by a suitably luxurious environment which offers the expensive kind of isolation from the outside world. The fit and finish are just excellent as well as the perceived quality, from the leather upholstery to the soft-touch plastics. The only thing that kind of spoils the image of it is the amount of shared switches and buttons with lesser models of the range.
As a true car to be driven in, the Genesis offers to the rear passengers their own set of controls mounted on the armrest, from which they can operate things like the audio system, the rear sun-visors, their adjustable ventilated/heated seats and even the passenger’s seat position to further increase the already big legroom.
How does it drive though?
On the road, the Genesis is an honest cruise ship that doesn’t pretend even slightly to be a driver’s car. Everything is smooth and well isolated, with the ride being as comfortable as your bed on a Monday morning. The soft suspension soaks everything well but in the same time allows the Genesis to float a bit too much. Established German rivals offer better body control without being left behind on the comfort side.
The eight-speeder’s velvety changes further enhance the serene driving experience of the Genesis but it could be snappier on downshifts. The V6 emits a healthy, satisfying sound when worked hard without ever getting annoying or intrusive. Performance is brisk enough for a near-two-tonne car and you can make good progress with it, once you get used to the body movements and the generous dimensions but you soon realize that the Genesis is more capable than happy to be driven that way.
Hyundai UK already knows that very few people will choose to buy a Genesis. With a £48,005 price on it, they have a rather strong point, especially if you think that a BMW 535i starts at £44,685 or even a Maserati Ghibli at £53,575. The BMW offers a more sophisticated set of handling characteristics, being more fun to drive, faster and a lot cheaper to tax, thanks to its lower CO2 emissions (179 to 174g/km, depending on spec). And that’s before we start discussing brands and their depreciation values after a few years. The Maserati is a… Maserati.
Think of it as Hyundai’s technological tour-de-force instead, with all of its benefits soon to be shared with the rest of the range, like the lane keeping assist, the emergency brake assist, the round view cameras and the blind spot detection finding their way into the more popular models.
Hyundai has built a really good car and I understand why this is so popular over at the US. The thing is that although the Genesis is a truly great $38,000 (the MSRP US price) executive sedan, it really has no chance as a £48,005 luxury saloon.