Although we briefly drove it in South Korea last year, it's only today that the 2015 Hyundai Genesis makes its official debut in the U.S. market. The second-generation car replaces a Genesis that first debuted in 2009, back when many were skeptical Hyundai could sell a luxury car in the U.S. market. Steadily improving quality, market share, and sales have proven otherwise, setting the stage for a brand-new version of the Genesis.
The new Genesis also heralds a new design language that Hyundai calls Fluidic Sculpture 2.0; it will later be used on the next-generation Sonata midsize sedan. In the case of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, the styling entails plentiful character creases, a broad hexagonal front grille, LED taillights, and a coupe-like sloping rear windshield.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis has grown by just two-tenths of an inch in length but its height and width are unchanged. The wheelbase, however, has increased 2.9 inches, which helps reduce the car's overhangs to give a more dynamic appearance.
The wheelbase change goes hand-in-hand with a brand-new chassis; Hyundai says no chassis parts from the old car carry over to the 2015 Genesis. There is more high-strength steel and aluminum, to increase the car's stiffness without significantly affecting its weight. New suspension geometry is said to improve handling and steering feel, at the same time as keeping the Genesis's ride as comfortable as befits a luxury car.
Carryover Engines It's generally true that automakers try to increase their engines' outputs over time, but Hyundai has taken the opposite step with the 3.8-liter V-6 in the 2015 Hyundai Genesis. For the new luxury sedan, the base engine now makes 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque, an increase of one lb-ft but 22 fewer horsepower than was offered previously. The reason, Hyundai explains, is to enhance torque and drivability.
According to Hyundai director of powertrain John Juriga, data showed that the average Hyundai Genesis driver kept their engine's speed below 4000 rpm more than 95 percent of the time. As a result, Juriga and his team decided to optimize the 3.8-liter V-6 for that sort of driving. The engine's redline has been lowered by 400 rpm to 6000 rpm, and its low-to-mid torque band considerably fattened. That came at the expense of a tiny bit of horsepower at high rpm, but Juriga doesn't expect many Genesis drivers to miss those 22 ponies.
"We can actually improve the fun-to-drive factor as well as the overall drivability," he says.
The main change is that the old V-6's two-stage intake manifold has been replaced by a three-stage version. Three valves open and close to vary the length of the inlet runners, allowing the engine computer to optimize the intake for better low- and mid-range torque. The variable valve timing has been reprogrammed, and there are new fuel injectors with a different spray pattern that's said to promote better low-end power. Hyundai has also revised the piston coatings and fitted a variable-pressure oil pump to improve fuel efficiency.
The optional 5.0-liter V-8 engine, which also carries over to the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, makes 420 hp and 383 lb-ft. Hyundai has attempted to improve fuel efficiency by implementing a lower-friction crankshaft seal, and redesigned the timing chain so there is less friction between the camshaft gears and the chain.
On either engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
New for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is an all-wheel-drive system called HTRAC. Developed in-house, the system weighs just 165 pounds and is intended to help the Genesis appeal more to Snowbelt customers, as Hyundai believes the fact the old car was offered only with rear-wheel drive may have turned off buyers in northern states. In Sport mode, HTRAC sends more power to the rear wheels for sportier handling.
Gadgets Galore The car's freshened interior now has more room, and Hyundai's measurements show the 2015 Genesis is more spacious that five rival luxury sedans: the Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, Infiniti M, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The cabin has simpler physical controls, an updated touchscreen infotainment system, new gauges, a smarter steering wheel, and a parallelogram motif for the air vents.
New technology includes variable-ratio, speed-sensitive electric power steering; Continuous Damping Control adaptive suspension for the V-8 model; and Hyundai's first Automatic Emergency Braking function. As with similar systems on many other cars, AEB can apply the Genesis's brakes if it detects an imminent collision, based on input from the cruise control radar and the lane-departure camera. Along with that trio of safety gear, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis boasts a backup camera, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure prevention, and blind-sport warning systems. There is also a head-up display that projects information on the windshield, a new feature for any Hyundai model.
Perhaps the most unusual new tech add-on of all is a carbon-dioxide detector. Hyundai research determined drivers become drowsy when car CO2 levels exceed 2000 parts per million, so the Genesis's climate control system automatically pumps in fresh air if it detects that level in the cabin.
Despite all the changes, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis shouldn't be significantly more expensive than the current car. Hyundai says to expect a base price below $40,000; the 2014 Genesis started at $36,120 (with destination) for V-6 models and $48,320 for the R-Spec V-8.
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis goes on sale this spring.