The Hyundai Genesis may mark the coming of age for the Korean automaker, although Hyundai has offered premium-level luxury autos since the 1990s. From the GX300 and GX350 through the Azera, Hyundai has rolled out a succession of cars designed to compete with the standard bearers in the luxury sector, but none ever garnered much attention or sales.
Although it remains to be seen whether or not it will resonate with buyers, the Genesis has already created a buzz among the automotive journalists. The Genesis was recently awarded the 2009 Canadian Car of the Year award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and was named the North American Car of the Year at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show this past January.
The Genesis is available in both coupe and sedan models with V-6 and V-8 options with base pricing starting in the high $30k’s. The 375 hp, V-8 model is priced in the mid $40k’s.
Although the V-8 option features a new design, the V-6, DOHC 3.8-litre model has a solid track record. The twin-cam engine offers variable valve timing and delivers 264 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm. 290 hp is delivered to the rear wheels via an automatic six-speed transmission with manual over-ride. The Genesis is Hyundai’s first rear-wheel drive model available in the U.S.
The V-6 delivers effortless acceleration from zero to 60 mph in about six seconds and downshift are prompt and solid-feeling whether initiated automatically or by the driver. Acceleration at driving speeds is also responsive to make passing and merging safe and seamless.
Fuel economy is also impressive with the V-6, mid-size sedan delivering 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway for a combined, estimated average of 21 mpg.
The Genesis offers a full array of safety features including four-wheel ABS disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control, front- and rear-seat side impact airbags and full-length head curtain airbags – all standard equipment.
The Genesis’ creature comforts include power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate controls, a seven-speaker audio system featuring CD player, MP3 auxiliary inputs and satellite radio, 3-level heated front-seats, power telescopic / tilt steering column, cruise control and full leather seating. The dash includes electroluminescent instrumentation and a center stack console featuring a GPS navigation display.
The cabin is roomy and ergonomically designed to comfortably accommodate five adults. The trunk offers 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space and is accessible from the rear seat via a pass-through feature.
In 2010, look for Hyundai to build on its new-found prominence as a legitimate luxury auto maker as it contends for market share with Lexus, Infinity, BMW and Mercedes and others.