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Test Drive: 2015 Hyundai Genesis

Affordable luxury in a smooth, nimble sedan

by CH Contributor in Design on 01 May 2014

by Davis Adams

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When driving the all-new 2015 Hyundai Genesis through Greenville, South Carolina recently, it became very clear: the brand has landed squarely in legitimate luxury car territory, while remaining better value than its German and Japanese competitors. With virtually every aspect of the car improved over the past model, the only hang-up now comes with the attitude toward driving a Hyundai, rather than a Lexus.

Other brands have made the leap before, but they did so with a bigger splash, a clearer separation of product values. When Toyota decided to go up-market, Lexus was born. Infiniti spawned from Nissan and Acura from Honda’s premium car division. But Hyundai launched its upscale Genesis and even more premium Equus sedans in their existing dealerships, right next to less luxe vehicles like the Accent and Elantra.

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The results have sliced both ways. On one hand, the scaled approach to rolling these cars out created cost-savings that have kept prices low, especially considering the quality and content offered in the Genesis. On the other, people who break away from a typical luxury brand have had to visit Hyundai dealerships instead—missing out on the atmospheres and prestige of other high-end dealerships. Yet, that’s the tradeoff when buying a Genesis: while some buyers might be concerned by status or ego, they will keep up to $20,000 in their wallet. And the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is worth that compromise.

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For 2015, Hyundai overhauled the Genesis. LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, curvaceous and understated front and rear fenders and a massive front grille combine to give the sedan a handsome, stately look. It’s attractive, but not garish—it's a smart approach to expensive, mature design.

Whether driving the 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 or the 420-hp 5.0-liter V8, there are a handful of exterior nuances. The V6 is easy on the eyes, but the V8’s quad-exhaust and oversized wheels really help separate the car from other consumer-grade big sedans like the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima.

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However, it's the interior that really stands out. Inside, there is a mix of high-grade leathers, open-pore wood and real aluminum trim throughout the cabin, and the dash looks and feels like it belongs to a premium car. The leather looks and feels great—especially in the new ivory trim. The new Genesis also comes equipped with nearly every driver’s aide thinkable; ranging from radar cruise control with full stop and restart, to blind spot assistance, lane departure assist and collision avoidance. There’s an emphasis here on keeping the driver safe at all times—and that extends to the new touchscreen infotainment interface, which quickly and easily swipes between screens like an iPad or Android device.

When driving the Genesis 5.0-liter V8 Ultimate through Appalachia, it was peppy, comfortable and easy to drive. It was here that it became evident that the Genesis definitely skews toward the luxury end of the spectrum, rather than the sporting one. There’s plenty of power on tap and the car is nimble enough, but the comparable BMW 550i is more rewarding to drive. However, the Genesis gets very close to the Mercedes-Benz E550, and it blows the Lexus GS out of the water (unless you’re looking at the F-Sport). The car’s new eight-speed automatic transmission and dynamic suspension are both excellent, but the V6 model may offer a better value for buyers looking for an exceptionally equipped daily driver, rather than racecar.

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Regardless of which Genesis buyers prefer, Hyundai has developed a car that can be driven with confidence and pride. While egos could get in the way, one ride in a Genesis will have many wondering why they bought a Mercedes, rather than taking three vacations last year.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis starts at $38,000 and comes standard with leather, navigation and genuinely wonderful ride quality. Buyers can run up the ladder with all-wheel drive, Signature, Tech and Ultimate packages, leading to a totally loaded 5.0 that costs just shy of $60,000. That might sound like a lot for a Hyundai, but competitors like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class costs as much as $20,000 more for comparably equipped cars.

Photos by Davis Adams

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