2009 Hyundai Genesis Review: Making The Big Dogs Nervous
|Topics: Hyundai Genesis Sedan
James Flammang, autoMedia.com
26 September 2009
Names can make a difference when a new car model emerges. Genesis, the model designation for Hyundai's new premium flagship sedan, suggests a new beginning — or at least a new direction. Not only does the Genesis use a rear-wheel-drive layout, rather than front-drive like all other Hyundai models, but it's available with either V-6 or new V-8 power.
Ever since the South Korean automaker arrived in the U.S. market, back in 1986, it's emphasized value. Hyundai typically promised features and capabilities similar to those of major competitors, but at a significantly lower price. Now that Hyundai is moving boldly upmarket, past the current Azera sedan, value is still a drawing card. Like other Hyundai models, the Genesis is available at what the company calls "a much more accessible price point" than the European/Asian competition.
Two powertrains are offered: a Lambda 3.8-liter V-6 and an all-new Tau 4.6-liter V-8. Working with continuously variable valve timing, the V-6 makes 290 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. Running on premium fuel, Hyundai's new V-8 produces 375 horsepower, along with 333 pound-feet. With regular-grade gasoline, the V-8 makes 368 hp and 324 pound-feet. An Aisin six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission mates with the V-6 engine, while the V-8 gets a ZF six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual control. Hyundai claims the V-8 model can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Fuel economy depends upon the powertrain. The V-6 engine gets an EPA estimate of 18 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. Figures for the V-8 drop to 17/25 mpg.
Hyundai claims the Genesis has a larger cabin than the 5 Series or E-Class, but lower body structure weight. Genesis also promises more interior volume than BMW's 7 Series. Built on a 115.6-inch wheelbase, the Genesis sedan measures 195.9 inches long overall and stands 58.3 inches tall. Each dimension falls right in the middle of the competition, according to Hyundai. Trunk volume totals 15.9 cubic feet.
The Genesis suspension includes Amplitude Selective Dampers. Seldom shy about comparisons to premium motorcars, Hyundai says that technology also is used for Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz models. Like most Hyundai models, the Genesis has standard Electronic Stability Control. An eight-airbag complement includes front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags, plus roof-mounted side curtain airbags for all outboard occupants. Each Genesis halts with all-disc antilock brakes. Alloy wheels hold standard 17-inch tires with the V-6 engine, 18-inch for the V-8.
Inside, the soft-touch instrument panel contains woodgrain accents. Heated front seats have leather seating surfaces and electronic active head restraints. Lexicon audio systems are available. Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity, XM satellite radio, and USB/iPod auxiliary inputs are provided in each model. A power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers, automatic windshield defogger, and a memory system are included with the Genesis V-8. Available at extra cost are such features as XM NavTraffic, xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights with an Adaptive Front Lighting System, and a cooled driver's seat.
Prices start at $33,000 (including destination charge) for the Genesis V-6, escalating to $38,000 for the V-8 model. Options include a navigation system with an 8-inch display screen, plus a backup camera that uses the same screen to show a view behind the car. Eight ultrasonic sensors on front and rear bumpers work with the available rear backup camera to detect the proximity of objects while parking.
Expect a smooth ride on nice pavement, and acceptable comfort on some rougher stuff. But certain undulating surfaces can yield considerable body motion. Steering feels somewhat light but is reasonably precise, with just a hint of reduced confidence in the occasional fast curve. Easy to drive, the Genesis generally tracks neatly and stays put in its lane. Seats are quite comfortably cushioned and snugly bolstered, providing excellent back and thigh support. Front headroom is ample, leg space good, and elbowroom only slightly restricted.
Tested on a racetrack, the V-6 reacted well, but the V-8 is obviously superior for all-out performance - though hardly essential for most drivers. Resounding response yields plenty of passing power, and Hyundai's V-8 is at least as quiet as the V-6. Brakes are stronger with the V-8, but their effect might not be noticed in ordinary driving. On the road, the V-8 sedan feels a bit smoother and better balanced, despite less-ideal weight distribution.
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