Friday, October 31, 2008

Hyundai Releases Additional Engineering and Feature Information for the All-New 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Genesis Coupe Delivers an Estimated 30 MPG

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 30, 2008 - Hyundai released additional engineering and feature information for the all-new 2010 Genesis Coupe today. The Genesis Coupe, and its rear-wheel drive platform-mate the Genesis sedan will make their Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show debuts next week.

"One of the program targets for the Genesis engineering team was world-class weight efficiency," said John Krafcik, vice president, Product Development and Strategic Planning, Hyundai Motor America. "When you look at the size and content of both Genesis models, you'll find we lead all our competitors in weight efficiency. We also target leadership in power-to-weight ratio. We think that's just smart strategy in today's world. It pays huge dividends in both performance and fuel economy, and that's especially important in the segments in which these cars compete."

Vehicle Engine Curb Weight (pounds) Length (inches)
Genesis sedan 3.8-liter V6 3748 195.9
Genesis sedan 4.6-liter V8 4012 195.9
Genesis Coupe 2.0-liter turbo 3303 182.3
Genesis Coupe 3.8-liter V6 3402 182.3

Both Genesis Coupe and sedan are rich in ultra-high-strength steel, leading to world-class body rigidity. The Genesis sedan is 10-12 percent stiffer in torsion than Lexus and Mercedes-Benz competitors, yet it is lighter than these benchmark sedans, and offers more interior room. At just 3,303 pounds, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T is hundreds of pounds lighter than all of its IRS-equipped rear-wheel-drive competitors, with body-bending rigidity 24 percent higher than BMW E46 M3.

Vehicle Length Curb Weight (lbs.) Horsepower Power-to-weight ratio
Genesis Coupe 3.8 182.3 3402 310 (est.) 11.0
BMW 335i 181.1 3571 300 11.9
Infiniti G37 183.1 3616 330 11.0
Camaro LS 190.4 3780 300 (est.) 12.6
Challenger 197.7 3819 250 15.3

This focus on weight efficiency pays dividends across the board. The Genesis sedan owes its ability to deliver both strong performance (0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds) and excellent fuel economy (25 mpg EPA highway rating) in great part due to its impressive weight efficiency. Similarly, the Genesis Coupe 2.0T sets a new benchmark for front-engine, rear-wheel-drive gasoline fuel efficiency with a remarkable 30 mpg estimated EPA highway rating, because of its weight-efficient platform and its efficient 2.0-liter, low-pressure, turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

"While some turbochargers sacrifice smooth drivability with high operating boost pressures in the 20 psi range, Genesis Coupe uses a refined, low-boost calibration for smoothness and efficiency," said Derek Joyce, Genesis Coupe product manager. "We could have opted solely for big performance numbers, but our focus for the 2.0T was a more balanced package."

With the start of U.S. market production now just a few months away, Hyundai Motor America is releasing model configuration and color choices for the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

"Genesis sedan has set a new benchmark for the $35,000-$40,000 premium sedan, and we think Genesis Coupe will do the same in the sport coupe segment," Krafcik said. "From our 30-mpg 2.0T with its low-pressure intercooled 4-cylinder turbo, to the 3.8 Track model with an estimated 310-hp and Brembo braking system, Genesis Coupe offers a wide range of powertrain and performance choices for driving enthusiasts of all stripes."

There are seven basic Genesis Coupe configurations:
- 2.0T
- 2.0T Premium
- 2.0T Track (6-speed manual transmission only)
- 2.0T R-Spec (late availability, 6-speed manual transmission only)
- 3.8
- 3.8 Grand Touring
- 3.8 Track

Standard equipment includes:

- 2.0-liter, low-pressure, turbocharged, intercooled 4-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing delivering an estimated 210-hp (regular), estimated 220 hp (premium), an estimated 223 ft-lbs of torque (at just 2,000 rpm), an estimated 30 mpg EPA highway rating and an estimated top speed of 137 mph
- M6VR1 6-speed manual transmission (Optional: A5SR1 5-speed electronic automatic transmission with lockup torque converter and steering wheel-mounted paddle-shift Shiftronic controls)
- 18-inch Euroflange alloy wheels with staggered Bridgestone Potenza RE92A tires (P225/45VR18 front, P245/45VR18 rear)
- Electronic Stability Control with ABS, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Brake Assist
- 12.6-inch ventilated front rotors with 60mm single piston floating caliper
- 12.4-inch solid rear rotors with 43mm single piston floating caliper
- Sport-tuned MacPherson strut dual-link front suspension and five-link rear independent suspension, 24mm front stabilizer bar, 19mm rear stabilizer bar
- Strut brace
- Quick-ratio hydraulic steering (2.7 turns lock-to-lock)
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Front, side, side air curtain air bags
- Active front head restraints
- Driver's lumbar support
- Black-out front lower fascia
- Trip computer
- Air conditioning
- Satin silver and chrome interior accents
- Keyless entry system
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Power windows (one-touch up and down), door locks and mirrors
- AM/FM/XM/CD audio system with six speakers
- USB/iPod/Aux jack connectivity
- Steering wheel audio controls
- Cruise control
- Projector beam headlamps with auto light control
- Integrated Bluetooth including steering wheel controls
- Temporary spare with steel wheel (T135/90D17)

The 2.0T Premium model adds or substitutes:
- Power driver seat
- 360-watt AM/FM/XM/CD-changer Infinity premium audio system with 10 speakers including DVC subwoofer, eight-channel external amplifier, and diversity antenna
- Smart Key with push-button start
- Electrochromic mirror with HomeLink and compass
- Sunroof
- Navigation system (mid-year availability)

The factory-tuned 2.0T Track model builds from the 2.0T Premium, adding/substituting:
- 19-inch Euroflange gunmetal finish alloy wheels with staggered high-performance summer-compound Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires (P225/40YR19 front, P245/40YR19 rear)
- Unique Brembo braking system with 13.4-inch ventilated front rotors, 42mm four-piston fixed front calipers (red), 13.0-inch ventilated rear rotors, 32mm+28mm four-piston fixed rear calipers (red)
- Unique track-tuned suspension, higher-rate coil springs, higher-control shock absorbers, 25mm front stabilizer bar, 22mm rear stabilizer bar, strut brace
- Torsen-type limited-slip differential
- Black leather bolster seats with high-friction red cloth insert
- Aluminum pedals
- Aero windshield wipers
- Rear spoiler
- Xenon HID headlamps
- Fog lamps
- Lightweight temporary spare with aluminum wheel (T135/80D18)
- Navigation system (mid-year availability)
- Note: Automatic transmission not available with 2.0T Track

Later in the model year, a tuner-focused performance model, R-Spec, will arrive at Hyundai dealerships. Genesis Coupe R-Spec is meant to be the ultimate upgradeable, affordable, turbocharged rear-wheel drive performance platform. R-Spec equipment includes:
- 2.0-liter low-pressure turbocharged intercooled four-cylinder engine with dual continuously variable valve timing delivering an estimated 210-hp (regular), estimated 220-hp (premium), an estimated 30 mpg EPA highway rating and an estimated top speed of 137 mph
- 6-speed manual transmission
- Electronic Stability Control with ABS, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Brake Assist
- 19-inch Euroflange gunmetal finish alloy wheels with staggered high-performance summer-compound Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires (P225/40YR19 front, P245/40YR19 rear)
- Brembo braking system with 13.4-inch ventilated front rotors, 42mm four-piston fixed front calipers (red), 13.0-inch ventilated rear rotors, 32mm+28mm four-piston fixed rear calipers (red)
- Track model suspension tuning (higher-rate coil springs, higher-control shock absorbers, 25mm front stabilizer bar, 22mm rear stabilizer bar, strut brace)
- Torsen-type limited-slip differential
- Quick-ratio hydraulic steering (2.7 turns lock-to-lock)
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Front, side, side air curtain air bags
- Active front head restraints
- Driver's lumbar support
- Air conditioning
- Keyless entry system
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Power windows (one-touch up and down), door locks and mirrors
- AM/FM/XM/CD audio system with six speakers
- USB/iPod/Aux jack connectivity
- Projector beam headlamps
- Lightweight temporary spare with aluminum wheel (T135/80D18)
- Note: Automatic transmission not available with R-Spec


Standard equipment includes 2.0T equipment, and adds or substitutes:
- 3.8L DOHC V6 engine with dual continuously variable valve timing delivering an estimated 306-hp (regular), 310-hp (premium), and a top speed of 149 mph
- M6VR2 6-speed manual transmission (Optional: ZF 6HP19 6-speed electronic automatic with lockup torque converter and steering wheel-mounted paddle-shift Shiftronic controls)
- Black leather seats
- Fully automatic temperature control
- Premium door sill plates
- Chrome front fascia accents

In addition to 3.8 equipment, the 3.8 Grand Touring adds or substitutes:
- Unique brown leather seat interior environment
- Power driver seat
- Heated driver and passenger seat
- 360-watt AM/FM/XM/CD-changer Infinity premium audio system with 10 speakers including DVC subwoofer, eight-channel external amplifier, and diversity antenna
- Smart Key with push-button start
- Xenon HID headlamps
- Electrochromic mirror with HomeLink and compass
- Heated mirrors with outside turn signal indicators
- Backup warning system
- Sunroof
- Navigation system (mid-year availability)

The factory-tuned 3.8 Track model deletes backup warning system and chrome front fascia accents from the Grand Touring model, and adds or substitutes:
- Black leather seats
- 19-inch Euroflange gunmetal finish alloy wheels with staggered high-performance summer-compound Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires (P225/40YR19 front, P245/40YR19 rear)
- Unique Brembo braking system with 13.4-inch ventilated front rotors, 42mm four-piston fixed front calipers (red), 13.0-inch ventilated rear rotors, 32mm+28mm four-piston fixed rear calipers (red)
- Unique track-tuned suspension, higher-rate coil springs, higher-control shock absorbers, 25mm front stabilizer bar, 22mm rear stabilizer bar, strut brace
- Torsen-type limited-slip differential
- Aluminum pedals
- Aero windshield wipers
- Rear spoiler
- Black-out front lower fascia
- Xenon HID headlamps
- Fog lamps
- Lightweight temporary spare with aluminum wheel (T135/80D18)

Genesis Coupe will be available in nine exterior colors:
- Karussell White
- Bathurst Black
- Silverstone
- Nordschleife Gray
- Acqua Minerale Blue
- Tsukuba Red
- Mirabeau Blue
- Lime Rock Green
- Interlagos Yellow

Genesis Coupe features four different interior themes:
- Black environment, premium black cloth seats (2.0T, 2.0T Premium, R-Spec)
- Black environment, black leather-bolstered seats with high-friction red cloth insert (2.0T Track)
- Black environment, black leather seats (3.8, 3.8 Track)
- Black environment, saddle brown leather seats (3.8 Grand Touring)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hyundai Genesis to compete with BMW, Lexus

There was a time when South Korean carmaker Hyundai was considered absurdly precocious in challenging Toyota in the U.S. That was more than 3 million sales ago.

Now, they're taking on Lexus.

The world's fifth-largest automaker, Hyundai -- yes, Hyundai -- sees its first rear-drive luxury car, the Genesis, as a worthy rival to the Lexus ES 350. And no one's laughing.

There's no laughter at BMW or Mercedes-Benz, either, when Hyundai compares the Genesis with the 5-Series and E-Class, respectively. And at much lower cost.

Hyundai began selling the Genesis in July with a 3.8-liter, 290 horsepower V-6 bearing a price tag of $33,000, which is $340 less than BMW commands for the compact 328i and only $200 higher than the average price of a new car in the U.S. this year.

Now comes the 4.6-liter V-8 with 368 horses that propel the rear-drive sedan from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

With a base price of $38,000, the V-8 is expected to secure a place for Hyundai on the wish lists of people shopping the Lexus ES 350, Chrysler 300C, Pontiac G8 and the Cadillac CTS, among others.

"We're aware there's a segment out there that won't consider a luxury vehicle unless it has a V-8," said Michael Deitz, manager of product development for Hyundai Motor America. "It's not just about horsepower today -- it's about efficiency."

Hyundai has always done a magnificent job in the styling department, borrowing cues from the best in the business. So it was not surprising that Genesis fit the fashion scene of Miami Beach and Coral Gables, where the V-8 cruised quietly in a recent demo tour, loaded to the gills with luxury features.

The nicely proportioned body rides on a 115.6-inch wheelbase that is more than 3 inches longer than that of the Lexus GS and more than an inch longer than the Infiniti M's.

The Genesis face is predatory, with a tapered aluminum hood framed by backswept high-intensity headlamps resembling the eyes of a raptor. A trapezoidal grille with winglike vanes accentuates the curvature of the snout above a low-to-the-ground air scoop that represents the predator's mouth.

The aerodynamic roofline flows back onto a short deck and a blunt rear end tightly tucked and decorated with wraparound taillamps.

To achieve instant credibility in the premium market, Hyundai had to provide more of everything at an unbeatable price: More horsepower than a Lexus GS and Infiniti M, better longitudinal balance than a Lexus ES 350, bigger disc brakes than a Mercedes-Benz E550, better aerodynamics than a BMW 5-Series and Cadillac CTS and faster acceleration from zero to 60 mph than the BMW 750i (6 seconds) or the Lexus LX 460 (5.9).

The new Tau V-8 has more horsepower per liter than any of its V-8 competitors and outperforms all V-8 performance sedans with an EPA fuel-economy estimate of 17 city miles per gallon and 25 highway, according to Hyundai research.

But where Genesis really exceeds expectations is in its load of standard equipment. A $36,000 Genesis 3.8 with the Premium Package Plus is $8,000 less than a comparably equipped Infiniti M35 and $22,000 less than a comparable BMW 535i.

Standard on the 3.8 models are 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, automatic headlights, dual power heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, leather upholstery with heated power seats, proximity entry with electric push button start, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, dual automatic climate control, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jacks and Bluetooth.

When you move up to the 4.6, you get 18-inch hyper-silver alloy wheels, chrome lower body-side moldings, power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, power tilt and telescopic steering column, integrated memory system, Lexicon 15-speaker surround-sound audio system, six-disc CD changer, illuminated scuff plates, wood-trimmed leather steering wheel, electrochromic auto-dimming interior rearview mirror with Homelink and compass, power rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers with auto defogger windshield.

In another extreme measure to challenge the luxury market, Genesis has even matched the Rolls-Royce Phantom as the only other car to offer a Lexicon-branded audio system featuring Logic 7 technology. The surround-sound audio system includes an 11-channel digital amplifier and 17 speakers producing more than 500 watts of sound in 7.1 discrete audio. Hyundai also claims to be the first popular brand to offer digital HD Radio from the factory.

Navigation-equipped Genesis models also include a 40-gigabyte hard drive and XM NavTraffic. The Genesis also comes standard with XM Satellite Radio with a three-month free subscription.

Continuing the coverage that helped overcome early doubts about Hyundai quality, the Genesis warranty includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. Buyers also get free 24-hour roadside assistance for five years.

Although Hyundai cannot match the prestige of such names as Infiniti, Lexus and Acura, it can grab a piece of the market that wants luxury at a more affordable price. Hyundai at one time considered creating a luxury brand for models such as the Genesis but decided the cost was too high for the rewards.

Hyundai was wise in moving gradually upmarket from its current position, avoiding the marketing boondoggle of Volkswagen's exotically priced Phaeton.

So far, the Genesis is selling well, and Hyundai predicts a total of 20,000 sales in the first year of production.

"Consumers are showing their vote of confidence and that they will step up for a Hyundai," Deitz said.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

>Lexicon's Hyundai Genesis Audio System - Full Review

Can't Afford a new Rolls? How about this instead?

Hyundai is trying to be Toyota. And Honda. And why not, they're both some of the most respected and successful car makers out there. With the Genesis, Hyundai aims right in the middle of the luxury sports sedan market.

To help them with that image, they enlisted Lexicon to design the audio system. The only other car with a Lexicon audio system is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. So it's in good company.

The idea of a high-end Hyundai is one that you'll either get or not. Keep in mind that had you said in the mid-80s that Toyota could dominate the luxury auto market, you would have been laughed at too. Same with Honda. Volkswagen (you know, the "People's Car") routinely sells autos for above 30k and have for years. That's a far step from the Bug. So lets just concede that it's possible to move up market, and look at the product at hand.

The Genesis certainly has the right stuff on paper: rear wheel drive, V8, six-speed transmission. Of course you don't come to HE to hear my thoughts on car performance (which is good, as we didn't even drive the cars at a recent demo session). What I will say is that the Genesis has one of the nicest interiors I've relaxed in in a long time. Beautiful brushed metal surfaces, two-tone color scheme, stitched leather, all add up to a place I'd like to sit and listen to music.

This is convenient, then, given that's what we were brought to Lexicon's, ok parent company Harman's, Northridge California headquarters to do.

First, a lay of the land. There are two levels of Lexicon audio. The "lesser" system is part of the Premium Package, for $2,000. You get other car and interior bits as part of this package, but who cares. The more elaborate and more powerful Lexicon Discrete Surround Audio System is part of the Technology Package. At $4,000 it's not cheap (around 10% of the price of the car), but with it you get a nav system, backup camera, some other bits, and a cooled drivers seat. The latter just sounding, wait for it... cool.

The LDSAS (my abbreviation) is a 17 driver, 7.1-channel system. There seems to be speakers everywhere. Up front, smack in the middle of the dashboard, is a tweeter and a mid-range. On the front edge of the doors where they meet the "A" pillers there is another tweeter. In the door itself is a midrange and a woofer.

Most notable, from a car audio standpoint, is that the woofer is mounted to a piece of metal, integral to the door.

While this may not seem like much, being able to mount a driver to something solid is extremely important. When you've got the tunes going and the woofer is pounding back and forth, if it is mounted to plastic, the whole thing can vibrate.

Not only does this waste energy, but can also muddle the sound. Most audio makers, even just a few years ago, would have laughed at their audio company partners if they had recommended adding more metal.

You see, the greatest evil for any automobile is weight: extra heft decreases fuel economy and all aspects of performance.

Even though car weights have pretty much doubled in the past 20 years, every car maker keeps an eye on every ounce. So Lexicon being able to add in something that is of such importance sonically, but could have a potential effect on the automobile's weight, to me says volumes about how serious Hyundai is with letting Lexicon design the best audio system they can.

To counter weight gain issues, each driver uses a neodymium magnet. These rare earth magnets are ridiculously powerful, and therefore not only offer sonic benefits, but less mass can be used compared to regular magnets, resulting in a lighter driver. This type of magnet is found in most high-end speakers.

In the back seat, there are a tweeter and a woofer in each door. On the back shelf there is a tweeter, mid-range, and woofer on each side, and in the middle is the subwoofer.

The amp for the entire system is in the trunk, and no it doesn't take up much space.

Total power is around 528 watts. Compared to some aftermarket systems, this may not seem like much. This point was brought up by another journalist at the recent event. Lexicon replied that when you're able to design the system as an integral part of the vehicle (like the mounting of the woofer's mentioned above), you don't need an excess of power, most of which is wasted on other systems.

So how does it sound? Well in a word, fantastic. In the past 8 years I've heard most of the high-end audio systems done by high-end audio companies in luxury cars. These range from Bose, to the ELS system in Acuras, to THX, and different Mark Levinson, Infinity, and other Harman brands. With each generation, the audio quality goes up.

In the Genesis, Lexicon was able to achieve a full, rich sound, without the boominess that is so typical of car audio (well, not typical of most of the ones listed in the last paragraph, but you know the sound I mean).

The most convincing moment for me was Gerhard Oppelt's Und Lnderkirche track on the Burmester-CD II demo disc. This organ track has a lot of really deep bass. So much that lesser systems can either distort, bottom out, or just not reproduce the pedal tones at all.

With the Lexicon system, the deep bass was both powerful and accurate, better in fact than you'd find with most tower speakers, and even some home subwoofers.

The treble was clean and never bitey. The mid-range was robust.

It plays loud, but has a balanced sound to it like a good set of home speakers.

Not content to let the driver have all the fun, Lexicon's own LOGIC 7 surround processing is built in. In a car environment, this takes 2-channel material like CDs and spreads it out to all the 7.1-channels in the car. The effect is a wider, more realistic sound stage for everyon ein the car.

Normal stereo imaging is pretty much impossible when you're not seated in the center. So LOGIC 7 spreads the audio around and makes it sound more like you're listening in your home than in a car.

Additionally, it sends some sounds to the rear channels, which unlike most of the car audio systems I've heard, actually sounds like it's coming from the rear and not just oddly placed behind you.

In addition to CD, you can also play your antique collection of DVD-Audio discs. When the vehicle is stopped and in park, you can even watch movies in full surround sound. There is a USB port to hook up your iPod, or a standard mini-jack for any portable music player.

Having not heard the base system, nor the "lesser" Lexicon system, I can't say how much better the LDSAS is over them. What I can say is that the LDSAS is one of, if not the best audio system I've heard in an automobile, and I've heard quite a few.

It seems that with every new generation, those that design the audio systems figure out something new; a new way of doing something, a new way of convincing the car people, a new way of building or designing, that allows them to get that little bit more fidelity out of the audio system. This is not to diminish what Lexicon has done by just saying it's the newest. But they have certainly raised the bar for everyone else.

For more info you can check out:

Home Entertainment Magazine

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RIDES Magazine Transforms Hyundai Genesis Sedan Into Technology Center on Wheels for SEMA Show 2008

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., 10/22/2008 Hyundai Motor America and RIDES magazine are teaming up to develop a customized Hyundai Genesis for the 2008 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. The RIDES Genesis will be the ultimate in technology, style and refinement, containing the latest in technology both inside and out. As added incentive to visit the Hyundai display, 5,000 RIDES Digital Genesis iTunes cards will be distributed from the car's Wi-Fi network during the show at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Nov. 4 - Nov. 7, 2008.

"This Genesis perfectly suits the mobile executive, with multiple Mac computers and its own mobile Wi-Fi network," said Ben Harris, associate publisher, RIDES. "All of the modifications compliment the Genesis' natural attributes and emphasize the sleek look and luxury interior. We are looking forward to the SEMA show and displaying this amazing vehicle."

Inside, the RIDES Genesis will feature the latest in digital accessories including two Mac Mini computers, a MacBook Air, iPod Touch, iPhone 3G, high-speed Wi-Fi internet connection and movie theater-quality surround sound. The trunk will house its own Mac mini computer, a 20-inch Apple Cinema Display and a motorized tray containing the mouse and keyboard for the rear computer. Within the center console will be the iPhone 3G, Mac Book Air laptop and wireless keyboard and mouse for the Mac Mini mounted on the rear deck. Each passenger in the back seat has their own computer with internet connectivity. The 8.4-inch VGA headrest monitors are wrapped in the original leather to maintain the OE look and feel, while the seats contain suede accents.

"Genesis' spacious and ultra-quiet cabin offers an ideal environment to experiment with new in-vehicle information and entertainment systems," said Michael Deitz, manager, Product Development, Hyundai Motor America. "Adding state-of-the-art connectivity and computing power to existing technology like navigation, Bluetooth and satellite radio, this RIDES Genesis offers a glimpse into the future of hi-tech luxury."

At the Hyundai booth, SEMA attendees will view clean exterior modifications to compliment the high-tech interior. Modifications include 22-inch custom-made staggered fitment MHT three-piece wheels, Pirelli tires, custom-molded front body kit and side skirts, lowered suspension and smoked headlights. Custom dual-tip stacked exhausts and custom-molded rear bumper accentuate the metallic silver and blue paint job.


Genesis is built on Hyundai's all-new, performance-driven rear-wheel-drive architecture. It offers two powertrains, including a 3.8-liter V6 engine and Hyundai's all-new 4.6-liter Tau V8. Tau produces 375 horsepower, leading all its competitors in specific output with 80 horsepower per liter. With technology rivaling more expensive luxury sedans, Genesis showcases features such as XM NavTraffic, Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS), Smart Cruise Control, Lexicon® audio systems and electronic active head restraints. Additionally, all Hyundai Genesis have standard iPod connectivity.


RIDES is the premiere urban automotive enthusiast magazine and represents the worlds of "Street, Speed, Sound and Style." Bridging the worlds between enthusiast and consumer magazines, RIDES captures the essence of today's automotive lifestyle. From the hottest cars, trucks and customizations to celebrity cars, the ultimate in high-end performance, old school classics, new car reviews and the latest trends, if it represents the best in automotive, it's in RIDES.


Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through 800 dealerships nationwide.

Monday, October 27, 2008

REVIEWS: 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Is the six as impressive as the eight?

We've walked away suitably impressed from the Genesis before - but that was when it was suitably kitted up in its top spec with a big ol' Korean V-8 under the hood. While the V-8 car may be enough to run with the big dogs, we were curious what the six-cylinder 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8-which Hyundai expects will be the best-seller-had to offer.

The list is long

Given today's gas prices, buyers might be looking to the V-6 for its economy, but its EPA ratings are only 1 or 2 mpg better than the V-8. At nearly $5000 less than the V-8 model, the 3.8 is poised to offer the best bang for the buck. Starting at $33,000, the base Genesis already carries an encyclopedic amount of standard equipment. Features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, traction and stability control, side- and side-curtain airbags, Bluetooth, and keyless ignition are all standard.

Shoppers can opt for one of two Premium Packages. Our test car was equipped with the Premium Package Plus, which adds a surround-sound audio system, leather-trimmed dash- and door panels, 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, and a power sunroof.

Ticking this option box costs $3000; a significant figure, certainly, but it renders the Genesis virtually loaded at just under $36,000. In fact, the only way we could have packed any more content would have been to tick the box for the Technology Package, which adds a more powerful surround-sound system, DVD-based navigation, HID headlamps, parking sensors, and an extra $4000 to the sticker price.

Haven't we seen this before?

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Lexus must be blushing. The long, smooth forms of the Genesis might not ape those of any one particular Lexus, but try and discern the Hyundai's front fascia from that of a recent ES or LS-it's no easy task.

Although the design language may be derivative, the Genesis presents a shape that's smooth, well-proportioned, and easy on the eyes. All except perhaps the waterfall grille. Although intended to give the car a ritzy look, it comes off as an awkward afterthought.


What carries a genuinely upscale feel, however, is the interior. The designers did a terrific job of crafting a contemporary and attractive interior that blows away any preconceptions of what a Hyundai can be (the aforementioned leather dash trim really helps in this regard). Open the doors, and you feel like you're stepping into the interior of a $60,000 vehicle. Fit and finish of interior panels is consistently tight, although some switchgear could stand some refinement.

If there was any complaint we had about the Genesis' cabin, it was the front two bucket seats. Although they were certainly comfortable (and as soft as a microwaved marshmallow), they were a little too flat. One tester noted you sit on them - not in them - and consequently they weren't supportive in spirited driving. But a car like this isn't only about those in front. Rear-seat passengers are treated to some of the best accommodations we've seen in car under $40,000.

Smooth but unhurried

Though the V-8 is an all-new engine (the 4.6-liter "Tau" DOHC V-8), the Genesis 3.8's V-6 is a carryover from other Hyundais. The "Lambda" engine, a 3.8-liter DOHC unit, produces 290 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. That's down from the 375 ponies and 333 lb-ft of the V-8, but it proves more than capable of moving the 3700-lb Genesis without strain.

Helping the V-6 considerably is a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Shifts, for the most part, are smooth, if not deliberate. Hyundai lets drivers row their own gears with a requisite manumatic provision, but there's no sport mode. That's a shame, as we'd welcome quicker-shifting sport mode, given that the transmission doesn't like to be hurried into selecting a gear.

More luxe than sport

Though some cars in this comparison sliced through corners with ease, the Genesis was decidedly less sporty. Although Hyundai often compares the car's handling to a Lexus GS or Infiniti M, the ride is tuned more towards luxury.

Over back-roads flogging, some found the car too soft, but the independent suspension (a five-link setup at each wheel) kept things from turning to Jell-O in the corners. The Genesis exhibits some oversteer at its limits, but the stability control, which is always on guard, helps reign in the back end.

The soft suspension pays dividends with a comfortable low-speed ride. Unfortunately, some of that comfort disappears in highway driving, where the Genesis can be too stiff. Even moderate imperfections in the road surface are telegraphed through the steering column, making the car feel busy.

Will Six Get You Eight?

We'd argue the biggest question surrounding the Genesis V-6 is not how it fares against its immediate competition (quite favorably, thank you), but against itself. The V-8 car is an outstanding bargain for what it offers, but is it worth an extra $5000 over the six?

No, it probably isn't. Although those with a V-8 fixation will spring for the 4.6-liter (and love it), the rest of the world-especially those looking for a lavish lifestyle on a bohemian budget-will be more than content with the V-6.

2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Base Price: $33,000
As Tested: $36,000

Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 290 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel

L x W x H: 195.9 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
Legroom F/R: 44.3/38.6 in
Headroom F/R: 38.1/37.7 in
Cargo capacity: 15.9 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3748 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 18/27 mpg

By Evan McCausland

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hyundai Genesis offers prestige, value

A billboard near a Hudson Valley enclave urges people to "drive prestige." It is an unabashed pitch to egos in pursuit of sales of expensive European and Japanese automobiles -- BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Lexus. But times are tough. Prestige no longer gets an automatic nod. Prestige without value, or encumbered by suspect worth, nowadays gets the boot. Into that environment comes Hyundai Motor America with its most expensive automobile to date, the rear-wheel-drive 2009 Hyundai Genesis sedan. It's aimed at what the car industry calls the "near-luxury segment" -- that part of the market priced from about $30,000 to $50,000.

Going for the gold

Conventional wisdom suggests that Hyundai is making a mistake. It is a Korean-owned company that made its mark in America, a poorly formed scratch that eventually became a strong product signature, selling economy automobiles and wagons. What is Hyundai doing trying to sell cars priced from $33,000 to $42,000?

The short answer is that Hyundai, like its competitors, is going for the gold. If successful, Hyundai could reshape popular notions of prestige. In the process, it could elevate the meaning of "value."

Style without sticker shock

Its styling is attractive inside and out. And the car is loaded with amenities, including touches such as a power rear sunshade.

What the Genesis lacks is an astronomically high price. Depending on the model, the Genesis can cost from $200 to $22,000 less than competitive European and Asian automobiles.

In that regard, the Genesis is a celebration of luxury without hyperbole, luxury with a deal, including one of the best automobile warranties in the business -- five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper protection and a 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty on engine and transmission.

Complaints: The steering in the Genesis 4.6 takes some getting used to. Initially, it feels a bit heavy and off-center, as if it wants to move slightly opposite of your intended turn. But you soon learn to let it do its thing, which turns out to be wonderfully precise. By comparison, the steering in the Genesis 3.8 is remarkably compliant to driver input.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Both the Genesis 4.6 and 3.8 move with agility, speed, power. My favorite is the Genesis 3.8, which feels lighter and quicker and gets 27 miles per gallon on the highway vs. 25 mpg for the Genesis 4.6.

Head-turning quotient: To all of you who asked: Yes, Hyundai designed, developed and manufactured the Genesis, which rolls out of a Hyundai assembly plant in Ulsan, Korea. It's an attractive piece of work that proves no one has a corner on automotive talent.

Body style/layout: The Genesis is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, full-size, entry-level luxury sedan. It is offered in two basic formats, 4.6 and 3.8, with three trim levels -- "premium," "premium plus" and "technology."

Engines/transmission: There is a 4.6-liter V-8 that, using premium gasoline, develops 375 horsepower at 6,500 revolutions per minute and 333 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. The available V-6, which produces 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 264 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm, runs on regular gasoline. Both engines are mated to a six-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Luggage capacity is 15.9 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 19.3 gallons and takes unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 16 mpg in urban traffic and 24 mpg on the highway with the V-8. In the V-6, I did two to three mpg better all around.

Safety: There are eight air bags, including head and side bags front and rear. Body construction is rigid. Electronic head restraints, stability and traction control are standard along with anti-lock brakes.

Price: Start at $33,000 for the 3.8, including a $750 shipping charge. The Genesis 3.8 can be optioned out to about $40,000. Prices for the Genesis 4.6 start at $38,000, including the $750 transportation charge. The 4.6 can be optioned out to $42,000. Prices are sourced from Hyundai.

By Warren Brown, Washington Post

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2008 Hyundai Tiburon GT Road Test Review

More and more Hyundais are on the road now. It's a fact. Whether considering the Accent, Elantra, Sonata, Azera, Tucson, Santa Fe, Veracruz, Tiburon or the new Genesis, the Korean car manufacturer has seen its share of increased sales over the past decade, and for good reason. Not only are its new products exceptionally good, but a great warranty backs them all up. Truly, Hyundai is on such a roll of good fortune that it's not only one of the last companies left building a sport coupe, but it's got another one on the way.

The Tib's staying power alone has made it a bit of an anomaly in a shrinking segment. One by one its rivals have fallen, from the Honda Prelude to the Toyota Celica, Mazda's Presidio to Chrysler Group's Diamond Star cars; the Mitsubishi Eclipse the last remaining of the three and one of only a handful of front-drive sport coupes that remain available at all, although Scion's tC kind of replaced the Celica. Somehow the Tiburon continues to lure in the tuner market as well as regular folks just wanting a fun-to-drive, great looking commuter car that's easy on gas.

If you hadn't heard, Tiburon is Spanish for shark and this Korean carnivore of a car is seriously scaring its competition into hiding. Just look at it. Whether it's the base model GS that starts at a mere $17,270 or the top-line GT Limited, they look darn good thanks to European styling influences that deliver solid driving dynamics on both base and top-line trim levels.

The Tiburon comes with two engine choices. The entry-level 2.0-liter inline-four with 138 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque is easy on the pocketbook when initially buying and then while refueling, and plenty fun to drive, while the 24-valve, DOHC, 2.7-liter V6, which produces 172 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 181 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm, is a real blast to drive in this small, lightweight package.

Along with its nicely endowed engine, the Tiburon GT has a European sport-tuned suspension that makes for some fun in the corners. Whether I was tackling tight turns or just driving through city streets, the ground-hugging Tiburon and its front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension setup glides super smoothly over dry or wet pavement and holds its own in the curves when called upon. And with the addition of standard P215/45R17 tires and 17-inch alloy wheels, this street shark remains cool and collected and feels very stable at highway speeds.

And getting to highway speeds felt and sounded good. The low-note grumble from the dual exhaust was quite mellifluous. It wasn't too throaty and wasn't so loud that it attracted negative attention. Rather, the V6-equipped Tib gives off a refined note of sporty athleticism. Furthermore, the optional smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual mode was just the one to do the trick. While I would have liked to harness all of the V6's 172 horsepower with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, the 4-speed automatic was just perfect for all the city and highway driving I was forced to endure. Plus, it's a lot easier on the legs when stuck in grid-lock traffic, which is something I frequently find myself in.

Inside my Tiburon tester's cabin was a sea of plush, black leather mixed with sport seats and metal grain trim. What I love about the interior is its simplistic nature, with a modern flare. It's not a 'busy' looking cabin by any means, which adds to its appeal. It does, however, have quite the fancy audio system, as I would expect this shark of a car to have. The Clarion AM/FM/CD stereo comes complete with a plug/MP3/SD Memory Card reader featuring Music Catcher II technology, 4 speakers, tweeters and more. Additionally, the backlighting colors of the stereo can be changed. The button saying "Color" changes the hue of the instrumentation around the center stack to either pink, blue, green, orange and many more. Or, there is an option to mix things up and have the colors continually changing. It's a great touch to an already great system. The only criticism that I had was the writing on the buttons. It was way too small. But after fiddling with the system for a while, I familiarized myself with what was what and it was smooth sailing.

As sporty as the Tiburon is, it wouldn't be a complete package if it didn't have top-notch safety features. Along with 4-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS, the Tiburon hosts dual front airbags along with front seat-mounted, side impact airbags. The body of this shark is constructed with a steel safety cage complete with side-impact door beams and front and rear crumple zones to protect passengers inside.

Practicality-wise, the Tiburon is a great 2-passenger car even though it seats 4. I say that because my friend Jamie, who measures in at 5'3", couldn't sit in the rear seat comfortably as there is only 34 inches of headroom back there. Her head touched the top, which made for an awkward ride. In order to refrain from making contact with the ceiling, she had to sit hunched over. Not so nice. Also, when I went over speed bumps or any kind of noticeably irregular pavement, you can probably guess what happened! Ouch is right. Her head ended up just where she didn't want it. Now, the rear seats would be great for younger kids or shorter individuals, but not for anyone Jamie's size or taller.

Just because there wasn't a lot of people-room didn't mean there wasn't a generous amount of cargo space in the liftback trunk. In total there are 14.8 cubic feet, with the rear seats filled with groceries, shopping goodies, personal items or what have you. Visibility was also pretty good for a sports coupe. The C-pillars weren't too thick and the rear window wasn't too high, making parallel parking or backing up as easy as can be in a 2-door.

Overall, the 2008 Hyundai Tiburon GT has a commanding road presence and offers its driver some 'colorful' amenities. Not to mention a 5-year/60,000 mile comprehensive warranty and a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Fuel economy is also pretty reasonable with an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. And it looks so darn good. It's no wonder why the streets are now infested with sharks... Korean sharks that is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hyundai adds near-luxury Genesis sedan to line up

With fewer than three months remaining in 2008, it's been a quite a year: The last games were played at Shea and Yankee stadiums, Merrill Lynch almost went broke and Hyundai - Hyundai! - introduced a $38,000 car that can become a $40,000 car with options.

Why? For the same reason Willie Sutton said he robbed banks instead of five-and- dimes: That's where the money is. There's more profit to be made on higher-priced models than in the inexpensive small cars for which Hyundai is best known.

And so we have the big 2009 Genesis sedan, available with a V-8 at $38,000 to start, or a V-6 starting at $33,000. It's a strong entry in what carmakers call the "near luxury" arena - $30,000 to $40,000. Hyundai nibbled at the low end of that range with the Azera, a front-drive large sedan that can run into the low $30,000s with options.

But the Genesis presses the attack further and only time will tell whether it's a bridge too far. Hyundai dealers have no experience selling and servicing luxury cars and Hyundai's name still says "economy," - not "cache." True, they said the same thing about Toyota, but when it entered this part of the market in 1990 it created the Lexus brand and a separate dealer group (as did Honda with Acura and Nissan with Infiniti). Hyundai says it's not ready for that yet.

The Genesis' timing might be unfortunate. It arrived at dealerships this summer amid darkening recession clouds that have made consumers skittish about major purchases.

Quality, though, shouldn't be a concern. Hyundai's early problems in that area seem to be history; Consumer Reports recommends several of its models for which it has reader feedback about reliability. Hyundai has scored above average in J.D. Power and Associates' two most recent buyer surveys, measuring dependability and customer satisfaction.

And Hyundai backs the Genesis with an impressive warranty. It's good for five years or 60,000 miles - 10 years and 100,000 miles on the powertrain.

On paper, then, the Genesis looks like it's worth considering. Its styling is unremarkable - classically simple, if you prefer. Its dashboard is as ugly as it is ergonomically friendly; the protrusion from its lower center of a pod with audio and climate controls makes the dash look like it's sticking out its tongue at the car's passengers. But the interior is richly finished, in leather.

On the road, the Genesis rides firmly but comfortably, handles confidently and is delightfully quiet over just about any surface. Rear seat legroom is generous. Some might find the steering a bit heavy during parking.

Most drivers will deem the 290-hp. V-6 more than adequate. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 18 mpg city and 27 highway, and I averaged in the low 20s in mostly highway driving. The government numbers for the V-8 are 17 and 25. Hyundai specifies regular gas for the V-6 but says the V-8 will need premium to deliver the 375 hp., of which it is capable.

Hyundai says the V-8 gets the Genesis to 60 mph a half-second faster than the six, or in 5.7 seconds.

The Genesis has the government's topmost, five-star, safety rating for its front, side and rollover protection.

The Genesis has a lot going for it but, as Hyundai's spearhead into new territory, it carries risk for buyers if it fails: poor resale value. This might be a car better leased than purchased.

Vehicle Tested: 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Engine: 3.8-liter V-6, 290 hp.

Fuel: Regular

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Safety: Dual front and curtain-type air bags; seat-mounted front and rear side-impact air bags; four-wheel disc brakes w/anti-lock, stability control and brake assist; heated side mirrors with turn signals; fog lamps

Place of Assembly: Ulsan, South Korea

Trunk: 15.9 cubic feet

EPA Fuel Economy

Estimates: 18 mpg city, 27 highway

Price as Driven: $36,000

Tom Incantalupo | ROAD TEST

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2009 Hyundai Azera and Genesis: Two solid luxury cars from an unlikely source

Though you may have missed it, Hyundai has been trying to sell luxury cars in the United States for eight years now. The Korean automaker best known for its low prices and long warranty started with the 2001 XG300, moved on to the 2006 Azera, and now, for 2009, offered its most ambitious product yet: the Genesis.

The XG and Azera were both front-wheel-drive large V6 family sedans, the approximate equivalent of a Toyota Avalon selling for the price of a smaller Camry. The XG offered a spacious interior and a smooth ride, and moderately upscale if generic styling, but it wasn't a particularly strong product.

The 2006 Azera was a significant upgrade over that car, and was able to offer more convincing luxury, with much more interior quality and tastefulness and superior driving dynamics that both could now rival the best large family cars.

But neither was a sales success. Nor was the Hyundai Veracruz, the midsize SUV that Motor Trend magazine compared favorably to the Lexus RX350.

After Hyundai spent years trying and failing to sell pricey vehicles, expectations were generally low when it introduced by far its most expensive product yet: the 2009 Genesis, the first Hyundai with a base price above $30,000.

But the Genesis has been a hit so far, easily outselling the far less expensive Azera in its first two months on the market.

Is it because it's a leaps-and-bounds improvement over the Azera?

In daily use, it's fairly similar. Both offer very high-quality interiors, comfortable and quiet rides, safe but unexciting handling, and plenty of space. The Azera costs nearly $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Genesis, comparing sticker prices and rebates, according to pricing site Transaction prices are even further apart.

So why did the Genesis outsell the Azera last month more than 2-to-1?

Part of it is the styling. Not only is its look newer, but the sharper front end and the BMW 5-Series style profile is more eye-catching than the pleasantly rounded but unremarkable Azera.

Part of it is the details. Though the two are similar in most ways, the Genesis trumps the Azera incrementally in most ways but interior volume, where the other has the clear advantage.

But most of it is the difference is that the Genesis is unapologetically a luxury car. With rear-wheel-drive, an available V8, lots of high-end features like cooled front seats and a 17-speaker stereo system, and no low-priced base model, it's clearly not just a really nice mainstream car.

The less-expensive Azera could certainly pass for a nice family car, just a Camry alternative with more space, more refinement, and a more upscale interior. But many people won't notice much difference in driving the Azera versus the Genesis, despite the effort and expense Hyundai lavished on its new flagship product.

Driving the Genesis:

Hyundai likes to call the Genesis a sports sedan, which it really isn't. BMW need not worry about losing driving enthusiast customers. But it emulates the tight, controlled feel of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class at least as well as any other vehicle from an Asian automaker, with firm and responsive steering and comfortable and stable ride. This feel is unique to the Genesis among products in Hyundai's history. Hyundai is more used to achieving a comfortable ride just by softening the suspension at the expense of softer handling. Again, the Genesis isn't a sports sedan in that it doesn't seem to encourage you to drive dangerously, but it isn't a squishy luxury car that outright prevents you from doing so.

Buyers are offered one of two engines. Standard is an upgraded version of the 3.8-liter V6 used in many Hyundai products, and optional is Hyundai's new first-ever V8. V8 models are just now arriving on dealer lots, but magazine reviews of pre-production models (cars hand-built for evaluation before they become commercially available) have not given the indication the V8 is worth the extra cost -- $3,000 between comparably equipped versions. The V6 already delivers very strong power, excellent refinement, and surprisingly good gas mileage.

Inside, passengers find seats that are firmer than the Hyundai norm, also leading to a Germanic feel. But the interior maintains the Hyundai norm of strong interior packaging that's often missing from luxury cars in offering bountiful space for front and rear passengers. In the rear especially, the well-shaped bench seat is mounted high from the floor to keep occupants from sitting knees-up as they would in a Lexus GS, and still offers plenty of head room. The trunk is also very spacious by the standards of a midsize luxury car.

If you're also surprised to see excellent build quality inside, don't be. Fit and finish was one of the first things Hyundai managed to excel at, as it found early on that it was much easier to give a car a nice interior than to make a competitive engine or suspension system. The rest of the engineering has caught up, but Hyundai hasn't forgotten how to build a good interior. The company's tastefulness has also improved in recent years, as current Hyundais lack the garish tones of false wood trim slathered throughout the cabin. The Genesis has its helping of the wood-like plastic, but its use is attractive.

Other Hyundai strong points that have carried over into the Genesis -- and which are often absent from luxury cars -- are the basic ergonomics of a simple control layout and excellent outward visibility. Both are often compromised in the interest of style in luxury products, and many automakers have also run into trouble making a luxury car's many gadgets easy to use. Hyundai avoided problems in both areas, without making the Genesis boring to look at inside or out.

But while the Genesis is highly capable, nothing about it is likely to blow away someone used to a Mercedes-Benz E350 or Audi A6. It matches those cars in most areas at a much lower price, and it's easier to tune the radio, but those don't tend to be the qualities the average Mercedes buyer is looking for.

So don't think of the Genesis as a "the same for less" product like most competing Hyundais are. Think of it as a large family sedan that competes against the likes of the Buick Lucerne, Nissan Maxima, or Toyota Avalon in offering more for the same: the feeling of a European luxury car for the price of a mainstream one. In that sense, it's a Hyundai selling without a price advantage, but it's a car that doesn't need one.

Driving the Azera:

If the Genesis is to be considered a large family car, where does that leave the Azera? As a competitor to another Hyundai?

It can and should be. The two cars are about the same size and both try and succeed to deliver a premium feel. Hyundai originally considered the scenario (which has not panned out) that the Genesis would draw people into Hyundai showrooms but that they would leave with the less-expensive Azera.

If the Azera were more noticeable and better-advertised, perhaps they would. Some might even prefer it to the Genesis for its roomier interior -- made possible by the greater space-efficiency of front-wheel-drive -- and softer, plusher seats. And although it delivers a different sort of luxury feel than the Genesis, that of a nicer Toyota Camry rather than a cheaper Mercedes-Benz, many people do love the feel of a Camry, and both offer the feel of an expensive car.

Hyundai certainly didn't do a bad job making the Azera feel nice inside. The leather is high-quality, the interior design is attractive, and no moving parts feel clunky. The use of false wood trim is even more restrained than in the Genesis. The crisp gauges are modeled after Lexuses, and look no less slick than in those pricier cars. A myriad of features keeps the Azera from losing the luxury gadget war; it offers rain-sensing wipers, an in-dash navigation system, and a retractable rear sunshade, among others. And taillights made up of hundreds of LEDs give its rear end a sharp look at night.

But there is less sophistication in its drive than in the Genesis, with lighter, looser steering and a bit less ride control. And though it's hardly slow by any reasonable standard, its acceleration isn't as strong as in the Genesis either. The Azera holds its own against like-priced competitors and some that cost a bit more, but it doesn't follow the Genesis in matching big-name luxury in those areas. But it has no trouble in its quietness; the Azera stifles unwanted noise very well to provide a hushed driving experience.

There are a few other incremental differences between the Genesis and the Azera. The Genesis's crash test results have, so far, been outstanding; the Azera's merely very good. The V6 Genesis gets slightly better gas mileage than the Azera, up one mile per gallon in the city and on the highway, thanks to refinements made to the engine and an extra speed in the transmission. And the Azera is missing a few of the Genesis's available features, like cooled front seats and a "proximity key" hands-free entry and starting system.

If you're shopping for a luxury car or luxurious family car and aren't afraid to be seen stopping by your local Hyundai dealer, give both of these cars a try. They do slightly different things -- the Azera being a bit more of a very nice family car -- but they do them very well. Don't forget to shop the competition, of course, particularly for the pricey Genesis, but both of these Hyundais are leaders at their price point for comfort-focused luxury cars.

Vehicles tested: 2009 Hyundai Azera Limited / 2009 Hyundai Genesis 3.8
Vehicle base prices: $24,770 / $32,250
Vehicle prices as tested: $30,420 / $33,000
Test vehicles provided by: College Park Hyundai of College Park, Md. (Home of the lifetime warranty!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hyundai Sonata: Sometimes vanilla hits the spot

The 2009 Hyundai Sonata arrived at the office at an inopportune time. Having just spent a week and a half with the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, a rally-bred screamer of a sedan, my driving synapses felt as if they had been on a bender at Starbucks. My first reaction to driving the Sonata? Well, the phrase "vanilla-coated tedium" popped into my head.

But that's unfair. An Evo buyer is not a Sonata buyer and vice versa.

The Sonata is built to be safely stylish, reliable, comfortable and inexpensive to own and operate.

For 2009, the Sonata has been transformed into a seriously good mainstream sedan, equal to the best midsize sedans in its class - the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu - thanks to some major upgrades.

You wouldn't guess it from the outside. The overall shape is similar to last year's model, with small changes to the headlights, taillights, fog-lights and grille.

This car's personality has been changed by an instrument panel worthy of an entry-level luxury car. Gone is the 2008 model's discordant dashboard and uncomfortable seats. In their place is a cabin filled with flowing lines and harmonious design reminiscent of a Lexus.

Controls are easy to reach and understand. Pleasing textures lend the car a high-quality feel, although some controls are a bit light to the touch.

Twist the key and you'll find the Sonata's changes are more than skin deep.

In the engine room, Hyundai has pulled a neat trick: increasing horsepower and fuel economy.

Hyundai's revised 2.4-liter double-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine produces 175 horsepower, an increase of 13. Yet the EPA rates the car at 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, up 1 mpg in the city and 2 on the highway, with the 5-speed automatic transmission.

EPA ratings are identical for the 5-speed manual. When equipped with the 3.3-liter double-overhead-cam V6, the Sonata produces 249 horsepower, up 15 horses from the previous year, while returning 19 mpg in the city - the same as 2008. However, highway mileage jumps from 28 to 29 mpg.

Driving the uncivilized roads of suburbia, the Sonata's initial acceleration seems tepid with the four but quickly builds power. Most drivers will find it adequate.

Mileage ranged from a low of 19 mpg around town to 35 mpg on the highway. Overall mileage came in at 25 mpg.

While Evo drivers may sneer at the Sonata, most buyers will find this one comfy ride.

Its demeanor is closer to that of a Toyota Camry or Lexus ES 350 than a Honda Accord. Handling is oriented toward ride comfort, with significant body lean in turns and squirmy tires. But it's always very controllable. Road noise is reduced to a tomb-like silence. The only sound you'll hear, aside from occasional suspension patter, is your inner voice whispering, "nice car."

All Sonata models - including the base GLS, sporty SE and luxury-oriented Limited - come with standard stability control, antilock four-wheel-disc brakes and tire-pressure monitoring.

Seat comfort is dramatically improved. The seats are wider and deeper, with soft cushions that provide good support despite wimpy side bolsters. Cabin space is impressive with roomy accommodations front and rear. And the trunk is surprisingly large.

And the audio system? Although perfectly fine, audiophiles might think otherwise.

Still, there were enough options on this machine that I was perfectly satisfied with its equipment, despite the lack of a GPS navigation system.

By the end of my time with the 2009 Sonata, I greatly appreciated its soft, quiet ways.

Vanilla? Yes.

But vanilla is America's favorite flavor and pretty tasty. Those who prefer chocolate need not apply.

What we say: Vanilla, but darn tasty

Pro: Comfy, fuel-efficient cruiser

Con: Soggy handling in corners


Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder

Wheelbase: 107.4 inches

Length: 188.9 inches

Weight: 3,327 pounds

Cargo space: 16.3 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds

EPA rating (city/highway) : 22/32 mpg

Fuel economy: 25.2 mpg

Fuel type: Regular unleaded

Base price: $23,970

As tested: $24,995

By Larry Printz
The Virginian-Pilot

Friday, October 17, 2008

2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6: Luxury Car Comparison - Bull's-Eye, Baby

Once upon a time, a Japanese giant pulled a bit of a sneaky move on the established German luxury-car market. Known best for its inexpensive, reliable economy cars, Toyota launched the 1990 Lexus LS400 - a big, rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered luxury car. The LS was to compete with the top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz S-class, but it cost little more than the entry-level 190E. The Germans laughed (and laughed, and laughed), but it was the Japanese who laughed last. The LS400 was, in fact, a worthy rival to the S-class, and to remain competitive over the next decade and a half, Mercedes would slash the price of its S-class by almost twenty percent.

Now that Lexus's prices have crept up into Mercedes territory, Hyundai's pulling the same move. Just like the Japanese company did nineteen years ago, the Korean automaker has gathered a bunch of heavy-hitters, put them in a blender, and frapped together a car that competes with all of them in one way or another. The new Genesis is almost as big as the luxurious Lexus LS460, can run with the sporty GS460, and is priced like the compact IS350. Or so says Hyundai. This time, no one's laughing. We chose the top-of-the-line Genesis to see how it compares with some of the V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive cars it copies.

In the German corner, we have the Mercedes-Benz E550, an old-school poster child for upright, refined Teutonic virtues. Fighting for the Japanese is the Lexus GS460, which received the LS460's larger V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission for 2008. And because it's new, gorgeous, and priced similarly, we included the very English Jaguar XF in the mix. Lest you think the bargain-basement Hyundai is going to embarrass itself, keep in mind that when we pitted the Lexus LS400 against the European establishment back in 1989, it won outright.

When you line up these four sedans, the first thing you notice is that the Mercedes, the Lexus, and the Jaguar each look like nothing else on the road, and the Hyundai looks like everything else. The Genesis is such a hodgepodge of shoplifted design cues that it resembles one of the nondescript, digitally rendered cars in an insurance advertisement, an impression not helped by the badgeless grille. Other than that homely schnoz, though, nothing about the Genesis's appearance looks cheap - our test car's metallic red paint is deep and lustrous, its panel gaps are the same as (or smaller than) all of the other cars here, and the overall proportions create a substantial stance. Even the LED taillights and the intricate headlights look expensive.

Don't look too closely at the Jaguar's awkward headlights, or you'll forget to notice how gorgeous the rest of the car is. In contrast to the derivative Hyundai, the all-business Mercedes, and the introverted Lexus, the Jaguar is an epiphany of design. Every cutline, every detail, and every bulge is a triumphant piece of jewelry - and the longer you stare at it, the more you notice. Your eyes can fully digest the Mercedes in eight seconds, but it takes hours to truly appreciate the Jaguar's complex shape.

The Jaguar also has the most modern-looking interior, although it borders on kitschy, with rotating vents and a circular gear selector that rises slowly from the center console as the engine is started. At night, the dash illuminates in blue, with thin lines that remind us of the science-fiction movie Tron. Looking at - not touching - the Jaguar's interior is the best way to enjoy it, as the materials don't feel quite as nice as they appear. And the entire interior tends to creak and rattle while driving.

This isn't true for the Hyundai's rock-solid interior, which is the richest of the group both in appearance and feel. Its swooping, two-tone, leather-covered dashboard mimics that of an S-class and is refreshingly clean and uncluttered. Its perforated leather seats are the warmest (visually - the seat cooler on the driver's seat will render your unmentionables frostbitten) and most inviting of the group, and the wood steering-wheel rim looks as though it were lifted straight out of a posh LS460. With the key comfortably in your pocket, press the START button, and the Hyundai's white-on-black gauges perform the same startup ritual we've become accustomed to in every Lexus, with luminescent needles glowing brightly as the numeric markings gradually become visible. Actually, the entire experience from behind the wheel of the Genesis leads you to believe you're in a Lexus.

The particular Lexus in this test, however, offers a more athletic-looking interior than the others. The GS460 has brushed-metal gauge faces and a three-spoke steering wheel that work in concert with a louder, if occasionally boomy, exhaust note to give a sporty impression. Our test car's monochromatic interior left us a little cold, though, and the LED cabin lighting must have been designed by a photophobic migraine sufferer - open the doors at night, and the interior is illuminated with all the lumens of a sickly glowworm.

There are no LED gimmicks in the E550, and a quick look around the Benz's cabin will remind you that the traditional German concept of luxury comes from engineering excellence and attention to mechanical detail - not pillowy softness. For example, the perfectly machined door latches are practically works of art, yet your right elbow will become bruised by the rock-hard wood center console. In addition, the E550's infotainment system looks and feels like an old Tandy computer compared with the others' colorful and interactive screens.

On the road, though, the Mercedes feels as if it weighs six tons, isolating you so completely from the harsh unpleasantries of planet earth that you imagine every airspace under the dash, in the doors, and in the roof must be filled with sound- and shock-absorbing maple syrup. The E550's controls have a fluidity of motion and dampened responses that no other car here can match. By comparison, the Lexus and the Jaguar feel like they're made of harsh, unyielding Styrofoam. The Mercedes' upright, conservative shape delivers the best view out, the most comfortable back seats, and the most usable trunk. And yet when you floor the accelerator, the E550 leans back on its haunches and explodes forward like a muscle car. Its 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 is the largest and most powerful of our quartet, producing significantly more low-end torque than any of the other V-8s. It's brutally fast off the line, but it's the unrelenting acceleration at highway speeds (and double them) that serves as a clear reminder that the E-class is very much engineered to run flat-out on the autobahn.

The only engine that sounds better than the E550's is the XF's. At 4.2 liters, it's the smallest and least powerful, yet it's forced to cart around a heavy car. It's also quite soft at low rpm, which means that the transmission needs to downshift frequently to keep up with traffic, but that's a good thing, acoustically. Jaguar's engineers have muted much of the V-8's volume without diluting any of its fury. It may be the slowest of the four in a straight line, but it sounds wonderful while trying to keep up, and thanks to agile moves in the corners, it's easily the fastest on back roads.

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.

Lexus figured out long ago that most American drivers don't care much about twisty-road performance in their everyday sedans; it's the luxury features that people want. Hyundai has obviously come to the same conclusion, and as a luxury car in the grand American tradition of luxury cars - plush, quiet, relatively inexpensive cruisers with loads of space, a big V-8, and all the gadgets to impress the neighbors - the Genesis wins this comparison hands down. But if you're looking for a car that you can drive with enthusiasm, you'll need to shell out some more money to get the real thing from Germany or England.

Price (base/as tested) $38,000/$42,000

Powertrain engine DOHC 32-valve V-8
displacement 4.6 liters (282 cu in)
horsepower 375 hp @ 6500 rpm
torque 333 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
transmission type 6-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes F/R Vented discs/discs, ABS
tires Dunlop SP Sport 5000m
tire size 235/50VR-18
L x W x H 195.9 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
wheelbase 115.6 in
track f/r 63.1/63.8 in
weight 4080 lb
city MPG 17

Price (base/as tested) $49,975/$63,125

engine DOHC 32-valve V-8
displacement 4.2 liters (256 cu in)
horsepower 300 hp @ 6000 rpm
torque 310 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
transmission type 6-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Control arms, coil springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Dunlop SP Sport Maxx
tire size 235/35YR-20
L x W x H 195.3 x 73.9 x 57.5 in
wheelbase 114.5 in
track f/r 61.4/63.2 in
weight 4080 lb
city MPG 16

2008 LEXUS GS460
Price (base/as tested) $53,385/$59,318

engine DOHC 32-valve V-8
displacement 4.6 liters (281 cu in)
horsepower 342 hp @ 6200 rpm
torque 339 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
transmission type 8-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Dunlop SP Sport 5000m DSST
tire size 245/40VR-18
L x W x H 190.0 x 71.7 x 56.1 in
wheelbase 112.2 in
track f/r 60.4/60.6 in
weight 3960 lb
city MPG 17

Price (base/as tested) $60,175/$63,970

engine DOHC 32-valve V-8
displacement 5.5 liters (333 cu in)
horsepower 382 hp @ 6000 rpm
torque 391 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
transmission type 7-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel
steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Multilink, air springs
suspension, rear Multilink, air springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Continental ContiProContact
tire size f, r 245/40VR-18, 265/35VR-18
L x W x H 191.0 x 71.7 x 58.4 in
wheelbase 112.4 in
track f/r 62.1/61.9 in
weight 4020 lb
city MPG 15

By Jason Cammisa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

First Drive: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Two weeks ago I got the chance to drive an early version of the Elantra Touring due out later this year. I was impressed with the little wagon as were others on our staff like Bill Jackson, our resident Weekend Athlete. We'll be posting a video with his thoughts on this car in the near future, but for my initial impressions and a photo gallery keep reading.

I enjoyed driving this economy car a lot more than I thought I would. Besides a lot of buzzy engine noise - it's amazing how you rarely hear buzzy engines anymore - the little wagon did everything right. The ride was comfortable, and there wasn't a lot of road noise. The manual transmission was a joy with light clutch feel and smooth shifter.

As a package, the Touring seemed a bit nicer inside than the Elantra sedan. The backseats folded flat with one button, and there was a lot of cargo room. But I was shocked by the starting price of nearly $18,000 for a manual transmission. Although Hyundai hasn't announced its official pricing yet, there was a sticker inside our test car, so I assume the price is accurate.

While the Elantra Touring is a nifty economy wagon, the Scion xB offers more utility and style, the Pontiac Vibe is more fun to drive, and a base Subaru Impreza gives you all-wheel drive. And all can be had for a similar price. Economy car indeed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

US News & World Report: Hyundai Genesis Coupe First Test

Hyundai's Genesis sedan has been a critical success in the United States (though a V8-powered rear-wheel drive luxury sedan may not be a sales success in the current economic climate). But there's another Genesis on the way, which has little in common with that car. The automotive press is just beginning to get its hands on the upcoming Genesis Coupe, and so far, the impression is equally good...maybe better.

The Genesis Coupe is a sporty two-door "Mustang-fighter," to be offered in the U.S. for the 2010 model year. It will be available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine making 223 horsepower, or a 3.8-liter V6 making 310 HP. Jalopnik notes that "Hyundai is promising that this will be the cheapest 300+ HP coupe in the world."

Car Middle East magazine got the first chance to drive it. Testing a V6 edition equipped with an automatic transmission that can be shifted manually, they report, "For real sports car fun at rock-bottom prices, you can't do much better." They add, "Volkswagen and Toyota won't be worrying about the Korean's quality levels yet. But this is a car that isn't just about functionality. It has soul to it, emotion -- something we haven't really seen from Korea before."

According to Autoblog, the tested car "sprinted to 62 in 5.9-seconds," and offered "more torsional rigidity than the E46 BMW M3." They add, "The list of gripes is brief, including steering that's a bit too light for the tester's taste, some less-than-savory plastics, the lack of paddle shifters on the steering wheel and compromised trunk space on account of the hatch's odd shape."

U.S. News & World Report