Catapulting Into the Luxury Segment
Hyundai's Genesis sedan is one of the most significant new cars launched in America this decade. It represents an ambitious reach toward Lexus and Mercedes-Benz territory, a car designed to catapult the fast-growing South Korean automaker into the luxury segment. Shockingly, the Genesis is also a car that puts GM, Ford, and Chrysler on notice: Detroit now hasn't the money or resources to produce a rear-drive luxury sedan of its size and quality. Think about that.
We know the Genesis is good: Were it not for the astonishing Nissan GT-R, it probably would've won our 2009 Car of the Year. What cost the Genesis the title was detail stuff, like the overwrought grille, the limited rearward travel of the front seats, and a ride deemed too jittery for a luxury car. Nitpicking, but such is the nature of COTY. Still, we were impressed enough that we wanted one for a year.
Ticking the boxes didn't take a lot of effort. We wanted the 4.6-liter V-8 model. Check. Titanium metallic paint with black leather. Check. Then we decided to go whole hog and order the $4000 Technology Package, which adds a 528-watt Lexicon sound system, backup camera, navigation, HID headlamps, parking assist, a cooled driver's seat, and Bluetooth to the Genesis's already impressive list of standard features. Check. And why not? Our extravagance brought the sticker to just $42,000, more than $12,000 less than a Lexus GS 460, which is smaller all around, offers fewer horses, and has less rear-seat room.
After a few weeks in the fleet, we're convinced the Genesis is only a couple developmental tweaks away from being a truly outstanding automobile. The 375-horse Tau V-8 feels crisp and smooth and has so far delivered decent fuel economy-17.4 mpg. The six-speed ZF automatic delivers its trademark silky shifts (Hyundai has its own eight-speed on the way, along with a 5.0-liter Tau V-8) and noise levels are commendably low.
Quibbles? We'd like more linearity in the weighting of the steering and the front seats mounted lower to the floor and given longer runners. The ride is still a little nervous-the rear springs and shocks feel way too stiff relative to the front end-and the rear end jiggles around on L.A.'s thumpety-thump freeways. But that's about all. As Kim Reynolds noted: "Deutschland's and Japan's brightest engineers ought to be sensing the hot breath of their South Korean counterparts on their necks about now." So far, he's right.
Base price $38,000
Price as tested $42,000
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
Engine 4.6L/375-hp*/333-lb-ft* DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4060 lb (54/46%)
Wheelbase 115.6 in
Length x width x height 195.9 x 74.4 x 58.3 in
0-60 mph 5.6 sec
Quarter mile 14.1 sec @ 101.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 112 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.86 g (avg)
MT figure eight 27.2 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 17/25 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.98 lb/mile
Total mileage 3851 miles
Average fuel economy 17.4 mpg
*On premium fuel; 368 hp/324 lb-ft on regular
By Angus MacKenzie