Scottsdale, Arizona—Before the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, we had grown accustomed to every automaker recounting the arduous struggle to make its latest-generation car lighter, more efficient, and as slippery as a basket of eels. This narrative happens to be as stimulating as a lecture on photosynthesis. The strategic use of hot-formed, high-strength steel and magnesium castings is exactly what we dream about at night once our mind has entertained itself with odd stories about carbon dioxide diffusion and sucrose accumulation.
Our introduction to the 2015 Hyundai Genesis included none of it. Instead, Hyundai executives spoke about giving the sedan more visual presence and greater substance. They invoked “cab-to-axle proportion,” the “wide, expansive” dash, overall roominess, and reduced racket. Yes, the topic of high-strength steel did come up, but only in relation to improved crashworthiness. Otherwise, the remaining emphasis was placed on the sedan’s technological content, which starts with a 9.2-inch LCD screen. And, of course, there’s the value equation that is synonymous with Hyundai.
The ’15 Genesis rides on an all-new platform that sees the wheelbase increased by 2.9 inches to 118.5 inches and an overall length that is only fractionally longer. “When we saw the package that came through, we were like: ‘Is this for real?’” design manager John Krsteski said. “That we could pull the cabin that far back and create that classic proportion” was a special opportunity. The sedan is 196.5 inches long, 74.4 inches wide, and 58.3 inches tall. Interior volume encompasses 107.7 cubic feet.
The fresh sheetmetal makes the outgoing model seem as stiff and primitive as early talking pictures. Despite the crisp, sleek lines, the first thing we noticed was the new model’s large, six-bladed, single-frame hexagonal grille. Whereas the first Genesis used a knockoff Mercedes-Benz countenance, we glimpsed the accumulation of conservatively colored test cars parked together in a secondary lot at The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain and wondered, “What are Ford Fusions doing here?”
It was only a momentary, if reasonable, lapse. Nothing else about the two cars is similar. With its long hood and arching back, the Genesis could be from the House of Windsor. While we recognized no stylistic breakthrough, we nevertheless saw thoroughbreds instead of paint ponies during the next morning’s walkaround. Gracefulness typifies the Genesis, from how the front air intakes don’t gape to how the rear glass touches down as far back as possible without compromising the trunk’s usability. “This being a premium vehicle, we didn’t want to present a traditional three-box design,” Krsteski said.
A refined powertrain in either of two flavors
As before, there are two engines: the standard direct-injection 3.8-liter DOHC V-6 making 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque and the optional direct-injection 5.0-liter DOHC V-8 making 420 hp and 383 lb-ft (on premium fuel). Issuing a mellow, tenor-voiced report, the V-6 is more than adequate. Vociferating with bellicosity, the V-8 will kick some ass. An electronically controlled eight-speed automatic transmission is included with either powerplant, and paddle shifters are standard.
To distinguish between models, look closely at the alloy wheels. The delicate, paired spokes interlaced with a five-stemmed star indicate 18-inch rims and the V-6 (base price: $38,950). The elements of each 19-incher, while similarly themed, flow and undulate with greater exaggeration. One note we would appreciate on the V-8, which starts at $52,450 (both models have increased in price), is chrome door handles instead of body-colored ones. But that’s just us.
Neither hands nor feet are required for what Hyundai claims is the world’s first limb-free automatic trunk lid opener. No swish of foot or hand is required: only proximity within a few feet — lasting longer than three seconds — when the smart key is on one’s person. Likewise, another world’s-first claim is made for the CO2 control system. Developed after a Korean engineer found himself drowsing on the homeward drive, the system uses a sensor located under the glove box to monitor CO2 buildup. At 2000 parts per million, the cabin is automatically ventilated with fresh air.
Hyundai’s huffing and puffing is valid
Sweetly riding even on low-profile Kumho tires yet showing a hint of sportiness, the Genesis is such a pleasant and nice sedan, we have to ask why Buick didn’t have one just like it ten or even fifteen years ago. It’s comfortable and quiet, lovely inside, and important-looking outside. One of the few things we can fault it for is the lack of a rich smell with the V-8’s standard “Ultra Leather” upholstery. (But the ventilated seats were a boon on the long run down the Beeline Highway when returning to Scottsdale.)
Other available features include all-wheel drive with the V-6, a superb head-up display, and parking assistance. Lane departure and blind-spot detection cause the steering wheel to vibrate when you stray. The haptic response can be dialed down to a minimum level of intrusiveness or even shut off altogether. Meanwhile, the driver may choose among four modes of proceeding: eco, normal, sport, and snow.
In all, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis makes a persuasive argument to the buyer who disdains ostentation and appreciates value. The Genesis had been pushing the 20,000-unit sales barrier, but even better results can be expected. “We’re planning on selling a pretty good volume of this car,” product planning chief Mike O’Brien said, explaining how the development costs would also be recaptured as “know-how for the future” throughout the Hyundai lineup.
As a biologist might admit, there’s nothing sexy in basic processes. Yet as with capturing sunlight and carbon dioxide and producing oxygen as a byproduct, the result sure is nice.
2015 Hyundai Genesis
- Base Price: $38,950/$52,450 (V-6/V-8)
- Price As Tested: $49,950/$55,700 (V-6/V-8, including destination)
- Engine: 5.0-liter DOHC V-8
- Power: 420 hp @ 6000 rpm (est.)
- Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm (est.)
- Transmission 8-speed automatic
- Drive: Rear- or all-wheel
- Steering: Electronically assisted rack-and-pinion
- Front suspension: Multilink, coil springs, gas shocks, anti-roll bar
- Rear suspension: Multilink, coil springs, gas shocks, stabilizer bar
- Brakes (front/rear): Ventilated disc/solid disc, ABS
- Tires: 245/45R-18 (V-6), 245/40R-19 and 275/35R-19 (V-8)
- L x W x H: 196.5 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
- Wheelbase: 118.5 in
- Track F/R: 64.1/65.3 in (18-inch tires), 63.8/64.3 in (19-inch tires)
- Weight: 4138-4521 lb
- Passenger Volume 107.7 cu ft
- Cargo Volume: 15.3 cu ft
- EPA Mileage: 18/29 mpg (V-6), 16/25 mpg (V-6 AWD), 15/23 mpg (V-8)