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First drive: Redesigned 2015 Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan aims higher

Redefining the expression "affordable luxury"

Published: April 07, 2014 09:30 AM

The Genesis is one of those cars that does a lot of things right; it offers impressive luxury appointments and a ton of content for a comparatively little amount of money. But, performance-wise, this rear-wheel drive sedan has always been a pint or two shy of a full gallon.

Hyundai doesn’t stay still for long. As we have seen with other models, the Genesis has returned with numerous improvements that aim to push it closer to the best in class.  This is no small task in a class that includes Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti Q70, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—models that have been redesigned and refined for many years. But, the results are quite convincing with the 2015 Genesis.

The new Genesis comes with a host of high-tech features and mechanical upgrades when it goes on sale in the spring. Most notably, the next Genesis will be offered with all-wheel drive, the lack of which has been an obstacle for the outgoing model in the Snow Belt. Both V6 and V8 engines (3.8- and 5.0-liter, respectively) will again be offered, but the AWD gets coupled only to the V6. The new car adapts electric power steering in the interest of fuel economy. As expected, all the latest safety features, such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, will be available.

Also new is a CO2 sensor integrated into the climate system, which is designed to detect elevated levels of CO2 in the cabin and automatically brings in fresh air. The idea here is to keep the driver alert and paying attention between stops at Starbucks.

We borrowed two early production versions—a V8 and V6—to get an idea of how close Hyundai is to elevating the Genesis to true premium sedan status.

First impressions: We knocked our last tested Genesis for having a fidgety ride and handling that fell below sports sedan standards. The 2015 model feels decidedly more agile, with quick steering response and even-keel cornering attitude. The ride is now much more settled, but still a bit shy of plush. The cabin is quiet.

The engines are both strong. The V8 delivers rocket-like thrust, with 429 eager horsepower on tap. The eight-speed is as smooth and unobtrusive as they come. There’s also an adjustable “Intelligent Drive Mode Select” that lets you toggle between Normal, Eco, Snow, and Sport settings to dial in the appropriate personality. Click on Sport and the Genesis almost seems to tap into a caffeine-induced rush.

Inside, the cabin is stock-full of nearly every luxury item you could desire. Very comfortable heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, high-end Lexicon stereo, and big-screen navigation system were all on the V8 version. Audio, nav, and phone functions are managed through a central knob that proved easy enough to master. Rear passengers are  treated to heated seats and gobs of leg room. The panoramic sunroof is enormous and lets welcomed light into the cabin. Another nice detail are puddle lights that project “Genesis” on the pavement as you unlock the car at night.

Prices start at $38,000 for the base V6 model and climb to a still-reasonable $51,500 for the top-shelf V8. It's still fairly clear that Hyundai continues to price the Genesis aggressively to undercut competitors while distancing the car from the Azera. We'll be buying our test car as soon as we can and look forward to delving deeper into the capabilities of this next-generation Genesis.

—Mike Quincy

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