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2015 Hyundai Genesis First Drive

Luxury Evolved: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis Matures

What It Is
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis represents the second generation of the automaker's breakthrough luxury sedan.
Best Thing
New styling makes the Genesis more alluring inside and out.
Worst Thing
Add-on optional packages and the price of the Genesis escalates quickly.
Snap Judgment
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis has evolved, and packs more style, allure, and value than ever.


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The 2015 Hyundai Genesis returns anew to bolster the Korean automaker's luxury offerings. The Genesis model was first introduced for the 2008 model year and was a relative breakthrough for a brand often associated with econo-boxes like the Hyundai Excel. With lots of features and premium content previously unseen from the Korean automaker, the Genesis represented a bold venture, and a good first attempt. But Hyundai has evolved a great deal since then, and has won over an interested audience with its progressive design, impressive content, and a level of refinement that would have been nearly unthinkable a half-dozen years ago.

And it's the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, now entering its second generation, that shows us just how far the automaker has come. While the first Genesis did much to elevate the brand, it hadn't quite developed the appeal or panache of the competition. The 2015 model? It dramatically bridges that gap, and at least as far as style is concerned, enters the conversation with the best of the segment. With a more refined appearance, the Audi A7-like exterior boasts no shortage of presence. It's that same presence that is evident on the interior, as the Genesis shows us an artful cohesion that aims to impress.

The 2015 Genesis also benefits from Hyundai's first-ever all-wheel drive system, dubbed H-Trac, for Hyundai Traction. Once again, buyers will have a choice of the automaker's 3.8-liter V-6 or 5.0-liter V-8 engines. We got some wheel time with both powertrains, now packing even more horses. The 3.8-liter delivers 311 horsepower, while opting for eight cylinders dials up power to 420 horses. Hyundai's luxe sedan also has a few available packages that really add the features that make the Genesis a luxury car. While you can get into the 2015 Genesis for as little as $38,950, that model will feature a tiny 4.3-inch LCD screen, and won't have the very attractive panoramic sunroof, some of the advanced safety tech such as auto-emergency-braking and lane-departure warning, or the haptic steering wheel. If you want niceties such as the striking 9.2-inch LCD screen, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system, and heads-up display, you'll have to pony up significantly more, in the range of the $52,450 model we tested, which came with all the bells and whistles. Compare that to a similarly-equipped Lexus GS 350, Mercedes-Benz E350, Audi A6, or BMW 5 Series, and you're still paying a lot less. But how does the Genesis compare to those models? You can read on, to see how the 2015 Hyundai Genesis stacks up.

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Walkaround

The first Genesis surprised us with its quality and content, but it was its inoffensive, plain styling that left us wanting more. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis, however, arrives to make a statement. A quick glance gives one an Audi A7-esque silhouette, a large, prominent Hyundai-signature hexagonal grill, and an elongated shape that is often a harbinger of a midsize luxury sedan. The standard 18-inch, and optional 19-inch wheels look best in motion, as the Genesis really carries an eloquent, refined road presence. The design team says this model employs Hyundai's Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, which is a more restrained version of Hyundai's most recent, swoopy shaped cars. But the Genesis arrived before Fluidic Sculpture 1.0 was first introduced on the current Hyundai Sonata--which will get its own version of the new design language with the debut of the 2015 model this month--and if nothing else, it benefits from what Hyundai learned in the interim. After giving the exterior a thorough walkaround, we were anxious to hop in.

Sitting Down

Hyundai says about two-thirds of Genesis owners are conquest buyers upgrading from cars such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. For them, the rich materials and high level of refinement found in the cabin will be a definite step up from even pricier trims of those models. And for the roughly 15 percent trading in their Lexus, Mercedes, or other luxury car, the leather, wood, and real-metal trimming will be a familiar, pleasant sight. We particularly like the real, open-grain wood with the untreated look, and the large, 9.2-inch high-res media screen, which Hyundai says is 33 percent brighter than its predecessor. That, along with other options such as a striking panoramic sunroof really impress. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the model we piloted featured pillow-top headrests that were reminiscent--but not quite as sumptuous--as ones found on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Piano-black accents reminded us of the modern, striking application in the Cadillac CTS sedan, and small features such as sun visors that actually slide show us engineers really paid close attention to even the smallest details. The cabin is spacious and feels as roomy as any in the segment.

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Driving

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis features 3 driving modes, and your experience driving will greatly depend on if you're in the Eco, Normal, or Sport modes. The Eco mode almost feels as if you're driving with the emergency brake on, but thankfully there's a noticeable change in acceleration and shift feel in normal and sport modes. Hyundai vice president Michael O'Brien said engineers worked closely with Lotus to help improve driving dynamics. Lotus didn't tune the car, but rather helped engineers interpret the expectations and desires of Genesis buyers. The 3.8-liter V-6's 311 horsepower proved to be an ample pairing when in Normal or Sport modes, and you're never really wanting for power. The 5.0-liter V-8 ups power to 420 horsepower, and is the engine a little more than 15 percent of buyers are expected to opt for. If you want the best available, then the eight-cylinder engine makes sense, but we were sufficiently satisfied with the V-6, and would take the fuel economy gains and happily call it a day.

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Regardless of which model and engine you opt for, the quick, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission will delight. And while driving, you'll likely notice how quiet the cabin is, a deliberate point of concentration for developers of the second-gen Genesis. Barreling through the Arizona desert at speeds of 70 mph or more, there was very little road noise, though there was perceptible wind noise. The first model we drove featured Hyundai's first ever all-wheel drive system, dubbed H-Trac, and we found it provided sufficient grip and traction during our moderate drive. The 5.0-liter models are for the time being rear-drive only, but we'd guess that an all-wheel drive model could arrive in the near future, and if engineers tuned the engine for an even greater bump in power, that model could sport "R-Spec" badges.

Summary

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis represents an evolved, more refined version of the automaker's breakthrough sedan. Beautifully styled and with a luxurious, cohesive interior, Hyundai shows it has what it takes to cut it in the luxury segment. The competition, however, is stiff. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is perhaps the most refined in the segment, while the BMW 5 Series and Cadillac CTS are certainly driver's cars in luxury drag. Lexus has redone the GS 350, making it a must test-drive for anyone shopping the class, and the Audi A6 and A7 offer a complete package. But the Hyundai Genesis models we tested were easily good enough to merit consideration in the segment, and will come at a relative luxury bargain at that.

Basic Specs

3.8-liter V-6/5.0-liter V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, 311-hp/ 420-hp, $38,950, 18/29 mpg city/hwy/RWD 16/25 mpg city/hwy/AWD 15/23 mpg city/hwy/5.0 RWD

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