2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6

John Konkal

There wasn't as much praise for the Lexus. Hampered by electronic brakes that are frustratingly difficult to modulate, electrically assisted power steering that offers almost no feedback, and electronically adjustable dampers that effectively control body motions at the price of ride comfort, the GS460 was our least favorite to drive. We've always wished that the GS would drive like a small luxury car - a miniature LS, if you will - soft, supple, and quiet. Instead, it seems as if Lexus engineers added contrived sportiness by dialing in arbitrary harshness without improving driver involvement. The GS is a very fast and very capable machine, but it's too compromised to be either a driver's car or a luxury sedan.

The Hyundai, on the other hand, doesn't even bother pretending to play sports car, and it drives around town in exactly the manner we think the GS should. Like the Jag, the Genesis uses a ZF six-speed automatic, but in the Hyundai, the transmission shifts like a Lexus - slowly and deliberately. Hyundai's new V-8 produces almost as many ponies as the Mercedes mill, and in a straight line, the Genesis feels almost as fast. On glass-smooth on-ramps, the big Hyundai takes a deliberate, slightly tail-out set, thanks in part to an enormous rear antiroll bar.

But add a few bumps, and the Genesis takes a turn for the worse. Unlike any of the other sedans, the Hyundai falls completely to pieces on twisty, bumpy back roads. Push it hard, and pavement irregularities send the Genesis heaving and wallowing down the road with the traction control light flashing and the steering wheel shuddering. When you're hustling with a car full of passengers, its soft rear suspension crashes onto its bump stops over moderately rough roads.

Then again, we can't imagine Genesis drivers taking their cars on many back-road blasts. At everyday driving speeds, the Hyundai's only real flaw is a slightly busy ride, and for that we can probably blame the same big antiroll bars that help it corner neutrally. Otherwise, it's a superb daily driver. It has by far the biggest rear seat, the most interior room, and the best stereo - a seventeen-speaker, 528-watt Lexicon system that is one of the automotive world's very best. Its high-resolution LCD navigation screen is among the clearest we've laid our eyes upon, and the console-mounted controller is easier to use than any other system - touch-screen, controller, or otherwise. The iPod and Bluetooth telephone integration are flawless, the dashboard illumination is perfectly color-coordinated, and the climate-control system operates in virtual silence. The Genesis, like almost all luxury cars these days, also has keyless go, swiveling HID headlights, a reverse camera, turn signals in the mirrors, and automatically dimming rear- and sideview mirrors.

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