So we got a Hyundai Genesis finally
Debuting in late 2008, the Hyundai Genesis was the car that’s supposed to highlight what the Korean manufacturer is capable of, in terms of competing head-on with luxury brands. There was a lot of hype surrounding this car when it was launched. We’ve finally made contact with Hyundai’s UAE dealer and managed to acquire one for a road test.
Technically, our tester is a 2009 model that has seen duty since late 2008 as a demo car. However, to its credit, it has managed to remain largely in one piece rather remarkably, better than many newer test cars we’ve encountered. There are no changes for 2010, and the 3.8-litre V6 version is still the only version on offer.
The Genesis is an inoffensively-handsome fullsize sedan. There is absolutely nothing wrong with its looks. The problem is that, as with the Germans, people have come to expect offensively-oddball styling cues to give their expensive cars some character. The Hyundai has no discernible corporate design cues either. Even my mother could spot a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz from miles away.
The interior is almost as generic as the exterior, but the materials are top-notch — almost. The dash, the doors and the glovebox are all trimmed in either leathery or soft-touch stuff, feeling very premium indeed. But then Hyundai cheaped out on the centre-console around the shifter, using cream-coloured hard plastics. Taking care of those bits would’ve raised the Genesis to the level of a Lexus ES rather than simply beating out the Toyota Avalon. The LCD screen is controlled via a BMW-style rotary dial. There is no navigation, but everything else is easy to use. That air-freshener on the a/c vent is not standard.
The seats are also a simple design, but has the basic power features, mild bolstering, leather upholstery and even ventilation fans.
The rear is spacious enough, with space for three and slightly more legroom than a midsize sedan. There are rear a/c vents but no separate controls.
The luggage trunk is freaking massive. Again, Hyundai cheaped out by using “goose-neck” hinges instead of hydraulics for the lid, but it is integrated very cleanly and there is no danger of crushed luggage.
Even with minor cost-cutting measures, the Genesis is truly a breakthrough model for Hyundai. Everyone who sat in one was surprised that it was a Hyundai. It seemed to get a decent amount of respect on the road too, considering it vaguely looks like a cross between a Lexus and an Infiniti. A very good effort indeed, which is only missing a premium badge.
And of course, we had a Range Rover with us during this period too, so watch out for the comparo against a “real” luxury car. We actually enjoyed driving the Hyundai better. More in the full review.