Redesign transforms luxury sedan

The 2015 Genesis luxury sedan, from Hyundai. It features improved ride and handling, plus a more stylish interior than its predecessor.
The 2015 Genesis luxury sedan, from Hyundai. It features improved ride and handling, plus a more stylish interior than its predecessor.
Posted: July 20, 2014

Once again, we are reminded that the Korean automaker Hyundai, like its corporate sibling, Kia, is a pretty quick study.

A case in point is the redesigned 2015 Genesis, the second coming of its luxury sedan.

The first-generation Genesis, which debuted in 2009, offered a lot of features for the buck, and pretty much went downhill from there. The styling lurked somewhere between bland and generic, and the ride and handling were even more forgettable.

Enter the renaissance redesign for 2015, an automotive quantum leap. The new Genesis has been blessed with a fresh and stylish body design, nice ride and handling characteristics, and an interior that is as handsome and rich as it is comfortable and user-friendly - and as quiet as Coleridge's "caverns measureless to man."

In a way, the Genesis' exterior and interior design are indicative of a luxury lesson learned. They are distinctive (except for the Audi grille snatch), and connote something out of the ordinary - which, to my mind, is the essence of upmarket machinery.

The Genesis is available as a rear-drive V-6, an all-wheel-drive V-6, and a rear-drive V-8. It starts out with a near-luxury price tag of $38,000 on the rear-drive V-6, climbs into luxury land with the $40,500 base sticker on the all-wheel-drive V-6 that I drove, and into even more luxurious altitudes with the $51,500 rear-drive V-8.

In the case of the tester, $11,000 worth of options plus shipping raised the ante to $52,450, which is not a pricing pasture in which Hyundais usually graze. Most of the options were things you'd expect to be extras, such as the black matte veneer and aluminum trim, the power rear window sunshade, and such safety features as lane departure alert and assist, and adaptive cruise control. Others, such as the sunroof and the power tilt/telescopic steering, were not.

But then, reducing the base price of upmarket cars by making desirable features optional is hardly unique to the Genesis. The European luxury automakers are the aces in that department.

Enjoying the new Genesis begins with a perusal of its pretty skin. None of the old Genesis busyness in this design. Rather, a demonstration of how less can be more, with a simple, eye-catching character line running the length of the car and a pervasive smoothness exemplified by the car's graceful roofline.

The exterior elegance continues inside, where attractive, ergonomic design combines with high-quality materials and assembly to make for a satisfying environment. This is also an exceptionally roomy large sedan from both a passenger and cargo standpoint, thanks in part to a three-inch wheelbase increase over the previous model.

The electronics are also au courant, including what Hyundai calls a unique carbon dioxide sensing device that pulls fresh air into the car when it determines that C02 levels are high enough to make you drowsy.

A much stronger structure in this new car contributes to its exceptional quietude, and also contributes to considerable improvements in ride and handling. The latter also get a lift from the Genesis' new multi-link suspension. This suspension, developed with the help of Lotus Engineering, uses increased wheel travel to help calm the jarring impact that big bumps had on the old car.

That suspension also makes this car feel considerably more stable, and evinces less body roll in quick corners. It's really not quite nimble enough to be considered a sports sedan, but it's pretty close.

Power is not a problem in the Genesis. The direct-injected 3.8-liter V-6 in the tester developed 311 horsepower, which was certainly enough to make it lively. I imagine the 5-liter, 420-horse V-8, which I haven't driven yet, is a real stoplight revelation.


2015 Hyundai Genesis (AWD)

Base price: $40,500.

As tested: $52,450.

Standard equipment: 3.8-liter engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive and amenities ranging from heated, folding power mirrors to heated, leather, 12-way power front seats.

Options: $11,000 worth of goodies ranging from such safety devices as blind-spot alert and adaptive cruise control to front seat ventilation and even more deluxe leather and navigation.

Fuel economy: 16 city and 25 highway (premium gas).

Engine performance: Fine.

Styling: Elegantly fetching.

Handling: Quite competent.

Ride comfort: Top shelf.

Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper.

The Ben key: four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.

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