2015 Hyundai Genesis Review

KGP Photography

Namyang, South Korea -- Five years ago, Hyundai launched its first luxury car, the Genesis. Few car names have been so fitting, because the Genesis truly was the beginning of a change in perception and market reach for the Korean automaker. At the time, we said that Hyundai had “taken off its gloves,” launching a “no-holds-barred assault” on the luxury market with a car that was surprisingly impressive. The 2009 Genesis was a commendable effort complete with a powerful V-8 and rear-wheel drive—an ambitious feat for any car company, let alone one that had never done a premium vehicle of any kind in its then 41-year existence.

Back to Namyang

Now its time for round two, and we’ve returned to Namyang, South Korea, home of Hyundai’s massive research and design center, to test the 2015 Hyundai Genesis on the same banked oval and the same sweeping road course where we drove its predecessor. The automaker defied critics just by making an award-winning luxury car on the first try, but Hyundai doesn’t want to simply be in the luxury segment, it wants to compete with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Cadillac, and that meant major changes for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis. Inside and out, it’s a new car. While the powertrain carries over, almost everything else, from the design to the mechanicals (including all-wheel drive), is significantly different and better.

“We feel that this will be a defining car for our brand for the next five years,” says Casey Hyun, Hyundai creative design manager.

Creating an identity

The makeover of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis starts with the design, now called Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. While the first Genesis drew comparisons to Mercedes and Lexus sedans, it was actually a backhanded compliment. In 2008, no one knew what a Hyundai luxury car was supposed to look like, and the Genesis lacked a distinct identity. When you’re trying to build a luxury image and the average man on the street looks at the car and doesn’t know it’s a Hyundai, that’s a problem.

“We were trying to find our own direction, our own unique way of designing cars, and I think now it’s evident,” Hyun says.

Indeed. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis has a prominent, distinctive hexagonal grille that will be used across the Hyundai lineup. It’s framed by big LED lights set in large frames that stretch from the grille to far back in the fenders. There’s a bit of chrome to accent the greenhouse, but it’s brushed rather than shiny. Hyundai designers did not want to convey luxury in a showy, new-money fashion; instead, they chose to act like they’ve been here before. In fact, they have. Smart move.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis has a classic rear-wheel-drive layout, with a long hood and a short deck. There are dramatic lines and creases on the sides that run the length of the car, and the roofline is more noticeably raked than before, almost fastback style. The Genesis does still look vaguely like a BMW, but the new design language provides Hyundai a legitimate look to call its own.

“No longer will people have any doubt,” Hyun says.

Details count

The cabin is similarly updated and distinctive. It was nice before, but the Genesis still felt pedestrian in comparison with other luxury sedans. It had plenty of features, but the design was a mish-mash and some of the details were just average. The 2015 car has a totally different vibe. It’s much more aspirational and makes use of real wood—such as bamboo, ash, oak, and walnut—which works in harmony with real aluminum and napa leather. The effect is something more akin to a purposefully put-together Mercedes than a Hyundai playing dress-up.

“We have learned a lot, and that is why we paid a lot of attention to detail,” says Yongseok Lee, overseas product planner for Hyundai.

He’s serious. Designers obsessed so much over the interior that the seats have three different levels of cushioning to contour to the various parts of your body. Even the switches to adjust the seats have been reconfigured so they’re easier to use. In what is believed to be a world first, the Genesis has a carbon-dioxide monitor that senses respiration levels in a bid to detect drowsiness. There are also beefed-up electronics, including a head-up display, an optional 9.2-inch high-definition touchscreen, and a hands-free trunk opening function. The technology enhancements extend to the safety features: there is an automatic emergency braking system and a lane keeping assist system, and the sedan is now designed to pass the IIHS small overlap crash test.

The Genesis grows 0.2 inch in length, but the wheelbase is 3 inches longer, making for different proportions and much more room in the rear seat. Plus, there are head cutouts in back to compensate for the steep roofline. At 196.5 inches long, the 2015 Genesis is bigger than the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class.

A new platform

Another significant change to the 2015 Hyundai Genesis is the addition of all-wheel drive. It will be available at launch this spring (likely in April) and instantly makes Hyundai more competitive in colder climates. The system, called HTRAC, was developed with Magna Powertrain, the supplier of BMW’s xDrive. HTRAC has an electronic transfer case with a multiplate clutch that actively controls torque distribution, allowing 90 percent of the torque to go to the front wheels in extreme situations.

The under-the-skin changes continue with a new platform, which reinforces the notion that the 2015 model is really a new generation. Hyundai uses more ultra-high-strength steel for the new car (52 percent vs. 14 percent), resulting in improved torsional stiffness. The rear multi-link suspension is updated and is claimed to be stiffer than the suspensions in the 5-series and the E-class. The steering is also revised; the Genesis is the first Hyundai to get a new rack-mounted, motor-driven electric power steering setup with a variable gear ratio. It adds stability at high speeds and improves response at lower speeds.

All of these changes are a lot to consider as we’re hitting 135 mph on Hyundai’s high-speed test oval. Our rear-wheel-drive, V-6 Genesis is composed as we navigate the top line of the track, blast through corners, and then mash the throttle on the open straights into the fading autumn sun. It’s a short but invigorating couple of laps in this big, fast, buttoned-down car.

We switch to a V-8, all-wheel-drive model for the handling course. The Genesis is a willing partner as we try to keep a smooth line and generate as much speed as possible on the brief straightaways. The AWD system adds stability, and the new steering system is an upgrade. The car goes where it is directed. Hyundai lightly tosses out the notion of the Genesis as a sport sedan, but this big car doesn’t fit that category from a dynamics standpoint even with its tauter, more athletic underpinnings. The last Genesis was knocked for being floaty, and the chassis updates have tightened up the ride. The sportiest aspects of this car are the V-6 and V-8 powerplants. They are excellent engines and work effectively with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai wouldn’t specify power ratings, but they are not expected to change much; better low-end torque, however, should make for quicker sprints to 60 mph.

The original Genesis grabbed our attention, as it was Hyundai’s first foray into the luxury arena. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis no longer seems so revolutionary. It has the polish and refinement of a second effort, but it doesn’t startle us the way its predecessor did. In a way, that’s a testament to the first car’s success—the idea of a luxury car from Hyundai no longer seems so novel.

2015 Hyundai Genesis

On Sale: Spring 2014
Base Price: N/A
Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC V-6, 5.0-liter DOHC V-8
Horsepower: 333 hp @ 6400 rpm, 429 hp @ 6400 rpm (V-6, V-8, estimated)
Torque: 291 lb-ft @ 5100, 376 lb-ft @ 5000 (V-6, V-8, estimated)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel, all-wheel
L x W x H: 196.5 in x 74.4 in x 58.3 in

Looks like a Kia from the front.  Looks a lot like the Infiniti new car, whatever they're calling them now.  This is not an aspirational brand or a car to inspire anything.  Its a transportation appliance, just a very comfortable one. 
Stephen L Jones Jr
what's all the commotion about the winged badge?  aston, chrysler, bentley, mini, morgan, honda (cycles), ducati, and thunderbird among others have used wings. just about every pre-war car company used wings in their badges/logos/hood ornaments as well.
Freitas João Pedro
Great look. To bad it's an Hyundai.
Robynn Williams
A little 14 Mazda 6, 14 Toyota Avalon roof line, 14 Cadillac CTS hood/grill, Mercedes, BMW/Audi Lights, and LOL Bentley sign on hood. Overall I like it but they need to find more of their own design cues!
Yahya M Hussain
hahahahaha, 2a7aaa, i guess hyundai's designing department is made up of only a photo copyier xD
Even if it looks vaguely BMWish, the current crop of BMW suffer from some overly busy lines that lack the good proportions and careful details of previous models. Heck, I liked the Bangle-butt BMWs better than then current ones.This is much cleaner and better detailed than the current BMWs, even if it isn't as distinctive as the lovely lines of the current "Art and Science" Cadillacs.
Ramidu Perera
i like it
Ramidu Perera
looks beautiful...and elegant
"Who'd you copy that grill from?""Audi.""I like it!  Let's slap an Aston Martin winged badge above it, put another one on the trunk lid, and I think we're done here."
Domingo Dominski
stolen elements from mercedes and bmw and an ugly front...oh and a aston badge xD
Audi-esque and looks like Korean take on the current Toyota Avalon.  Otherwise impressive.  While I don't think Hyundai should start a separate brand e.g. Toyota with its Lexus arm, it would seem to behoove them to distinguish their rear drive series under the moniker of Hyundai 'Executive Series, or Premium.  Just a thought.
GP Vignesh
vry nice design.....
David Barber
Audi A7
It is always great to see more RWD sedans that are fun to drive.However, this thing is way too big.  BMW is doing a terrible job these days so I am doing the unthinkable -- considering switching brands.  If someone else makes a car like my beloved old E36 M3 I would buy it.  Even better, something like the 118d 5 door. 
Audi front with BMW sides and rear doesn't qualify as a distinctive design, which is necessary to be  a first tier luxury car.  At least tehy didnt copy mercedes  benz again. 
Greg Wilson
This car disturbs me for one reason : it is GORGEOUS to look at inside and out.    Lincoln needs to sell some assets and hire either Hyundai or Kia's head of design....and they need to do it YESTERDAY.    The Koreans get the importance of good design - lets hope other car makers are paying attention (especially those in Detroit).   Having said that, I don't think any Germans need to lose any sleep. 
Charlie Jacobson
The current grill is so much better looking.
Detail Xperts
I was just going to say that. :D `Rhyza
Hyundai & Kia have been churning out designs & color/material choices with noticeable appeal for the last few years; they're really coming on strong.. . . But as one who learned to drive  about the time Hyundai Excels hit the streets in droves, it's difficult to shed that stigmatic impression of cheapness Hyundai once represented.One day I'll have to admit that even a lesser Hyundai (or Kia) than the Genesis featured here is an infinitely better vehicle than my '01 BMW! Hard to shed paradigm.
Sajan Kumar
look is good and similar to audi
Max Bork
Overall design is good and the vehicle is impressively equipped. THE GRILL:I'm somewhat disappointed with the change in the grill design. If Hyundai seriously wants to establish an identity, they like Benz and Audi, Hyundai must settle on a grill design and stick with it. The new design does not copy Audi, if you compare, you will see they are not the same at all.THE HOOD:The beginning of the hood just back of the grill from headlight to headlight is a design negative!  I hope in future years they would extend the hood to include the top part of the grill or even the complete grille, thus eliminating this awkward looking line across the car behind the grill.  Whomever is responsible for the body design should address this design flaw.PRICE DISPARITY:Another problem I see is the Hyundai pricing for the Genesis in Canada.In Canada they have the previous model starting price listed at approx. $40,000, and the exact same model in the States $35,000. Which is a $5,000 price disparity for Canadians. If Hyundai wants to sell this vehicle in Canada, they should eliminate the price disparity.Having said this, it should be noted most manufacturers including car manufacturers, shamefully exploit the Canadian consumer, however with car manufacturers it is a lot more more oblivious, and informed Canadians are balking at paying the inflated prices. 
This is a great looking car and it appears from the article the performance has been  improved. I will give this car a good testing when it comes time to replace my Jag.
Glad to see the Camel nose (see earlier BMW 5 series) that  too many designers copied, including Hyundai has been replaced with the much nicer vertical grille design. I won't get in to metallurgy here which is a defining element when comparing Korean to German cars.
Jonerey Erazo
Yeah defining another pos... just like samscum their practice is to strip competitors & produce it. Easy business. Always will be a pos car. #POSForever
Nicolaus Le Compte
Looks good but.... It has many design cues from cars already available, For example it has headlamps from S550 mercedes, grill and fog lights from an Audi A8, doors and exhaust pipes from a BMW 750, door frames/pillars from an Infiniti G37, and emblems from a Mini Cooper. But atleast they used their own rear end from a Sonata for it. So my question is where is the uniqueness and inspiring part of this car? Maybe its the way they used a bunch of cars to make one decent looking one or maybe its the interior, who knows but I'm bored already and its still 2013 and this is a 2015 model.
Naresh Thakur
Mihlakayifani Ndwandwe
they steal Mercedes Benz Design
Michael Bordador
bmw like headlights, in an infiniti q50, audi a something, lexus, mercedes I dont know anymore they put the styling of all these cars in a blender and voila! genesis, they ran out of ideas
Laurence Stephens
I see Infiniti in there too...
حسام لمش
Saurav Hajong
nice car
Sam Chatham
Mazda? Some of you are pretty dim. It has a grill so it must look like "enter favorite brand here". It's a toned down version of the concept shown a couple months back. Mazda only wishes they could make something like this. Literally every brand, luxury or mainstream has some elements from other cars. All of them.
Sunny Turakhiya
Uber Cool Sedan. Grill Design matching with Audi & Nice Headlamps
Ruben Banuelos
It's a Hyundai?What are u doing?
LiliAdi Clenci
Nice but it's too close to the new Mazda6
George A. Dawson
Everything looks the same anymore. But I think it is good looking.
Fahad Saad
Ahmad Al-Anssariaustin martin
Ahmad Al-Anssari
It's look like BMW 7series Fahad Saad
Fahad Saad
Ahmad Al-Anssari
Evan Staeck
Is that a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi?
Manny Gutierrez
Audi looking grill, there is no doubt they want to attract more drivers, shouldn't they do it making their own creation and not copying someone else's model?
Seyed Hassan Dalil
Alireza: look how perfectly Hyundai Copied the 7 series and And Slk class ! Only amateurish car Company
Bruno Rabelo
nop, CLS class... :-p
Sylvain Raymond
Looks AWESOME!!!!
HondAcura, eat your heart out!  Nice car...too bad it's a Hyundai...Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Rocky Gonzalez
Another recycled Korean beer can...
Thomas Voelker
Looks pretty good.
Tuan Ngo
Copies are unoriginal...
@Yahya M Hussain That's right, go ahead and LOL all you want. Then again Hyundai is one of many Korean firms at your miserable land building Oil refineries, roads, buildings.  You know why?  Cause you guys CAN NOT build your own!! hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
@AMXLNT Hmm, Mitsubish perhaps first.....about 5, 6 years ago?  To the point Audi expressing their displeasure? And wasn't MINI using "Winged" emblems long before Genesis?  You're an idiot.http://www.worldcarfans.com/109081020975/audi-a8-prototype-mocks-mitsubishi-jet-fighter-front-grill/lowphotos#3

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