2014 Hyundai Genesis road test review - premium challenger
BREAKING the premium glass ceiling, Hyundai has unveiled ambitious plans to take on the best from Europe.
The new Genesis sedan will arrive in Australia after September with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW in its sights.
Opulent and showcasing the South Korean's latest technologies, this large car range is expected to have a sticker price in the $50,000 realm.
Hyundai Australia boss John Elsworth admits it's an onerous medium to long-term plan, but is confident his product can meet the challenge.
While still battling past cheap and cheerful demons, Hyundai has risen to Australia's fourth biggest selling brand on the back of vastly improved products.
Over the past two decades quality and drivability have leapt ahead. Together with sister company Kia, the South Koreans are producing cars which offer value for money, good looks and technological appeal.
Without glancing at the external shape, you could easily think you were within the confines of a German machine.
All the telltale signs of a prestige offering are there, with electric functionality of everything and the analogue clock sitting central to the dash.
The top-spec models have heating and cooling functionality in the front and outer rear seats, trimmed in soft Nappa leather with plastics limited to the base of the doors and areas which are seldom touched.
Some of our sample machines had dual-colour screens in the back with controls in the fold down arm rest that also had two pop-out cup holders.
Accommodation is expansive enough for five adults, but two in the back is the most appropriate fit.
On the road
The Genesis will be offered exclusively with a 3.8-litre V6 engine, partnered to an automatic eight-speed rear wheel drive transmission.
While there is a smaller six and a V8 available, right-hand drive availability is limited and the V6 was considered the best fit for Australia. And if our experience in South Korea proved anything this week, it is a genuine prestige competitor.
The left-hand drive offerings boasted Lexus-like cabin quietness and linear powered delivery from the bent six with a nice soundtrack accompanying each prod of the right foot. Crossing South Korea on a range of highway and challenging mountain roads, the suspension settings were on the soft side, but our models will be tweaked by the Aussie ride and handling specialists.
What do you get?
Australian specification and pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect it to start from just below $50,000 for the entry-level model, and top out at about $58,000 - below the luxury car tax threshold.
Standard equipment should include cruise control, dual-zone air-con, heated front seats and leather trim.
Top-shelf variants will come with all the latest gadgetry, like a jet-fighter style head-up display which projects information such as speed and sat nav directions onto the windscreen just below the driver's eyeline, dual back seat monitors and a Lexicon 17-speaker sound system (the same brand as used in the Rolls-Royce Phantom) with 23cm colour screen.
Safety should incorporate nine airbags and the usual suite of technological aids that are expected to deliver a five-star safety rating, but top spec models will also come with blind spot monitoring, around car monitor courtesy of four cameras, lane assist and radar cruise control.
Hyundai is not shy in its comparisons, pitting its size against the Audi A6 (from $77,900), BMW 5 Series (from $80,400) and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (from $80,400), but it's more pitted against the Lexus ES (from $63,000), Jaguar XF (from $65,545) and Infiniti Q50 (from $51,900).
In the front there is a pair of cup holders, well laid out buttons, with two 12-volt plugs, along with a USB and auxiliary port.
Storage is well planned with a large centre console which has a two-stage opening.
There are no folding rear seats but there is a ski port, along with sizeable boot able to handle several suitcases, and three child seat anchorage points accessed on the rear parcel shelf.
With the wing-shaped grille there is a distinct luxury familiarity to the design. While not groundbreaking, it certainly walks the prestige walk.
Hunkered down with dual tailpipes, it has an aura of pedigree and this is an insight to what Hyundai vehicles will look like approaching the next five-10 years.
The LED running lights grab attention on the road along with the contrasting lines.
Yet the Genesis has some Aussie flavour. Former Sydney boy Casey Hyun was a designer on the project.
The biggest question is whether those shopping in the prestige, image-conscious world will part with $50K for a Hyundai.
Brand power is pivotal, and while the Genesis wears its own badge (like a cross between Aston Martin and Bentley), the Hyundai flying "H" logo will be featured on the boot. That could work for and against the carmaker… and only time will tell if it's the right decision.
What matters most
What we liked: Refined finishes and quiet ride, mature and executive exterior lines.
What we'd like to see: Less woodgrain inside, Genesis badges all round rather than the flying "H", improved fuel consumption.
Servicing and warranty: The standard five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty should apply, and watch for some good servicing incentives above and beyond capped price initiatives.
Model: Hyundai Genesis
Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive large sedan
Engine: 3.8-litre V6 generating maximum power of 232kW @ 6000rpm and 397Nm at 5000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Consumption: 11.2 litres/100km (combined average)
Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.5 seconds; top speed 240kmh
Bottom line plus on-roads: Estimated to start from about $50,000