What’s New – The Hyundai Genesis is an all-new vehicle for Hyundai, and is the company’s first V-8 rear-drive luxury sedan. It’s designed to be the equal of cars such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS sedans, but at a significantly reduced price.
What We Think – It’s not often that a car company knocks one out of the park as comprehensively as Hyundai has with the Genesis. It possesses the power, luxury and poise of a much more expensive sedan, with almost zero compromise. If this doesn’t change your perception of Hyundai, it’s likely nothing will.
Hyundai Genesis – 2009 Review: One of the neat things about being an automotive journalist is that once in a while, you get to see a real sea change. One of these happened 20 years ago, when Acura and later the Lexus and Infiniti brands debuted, altering our perspectives of what a luxury car could be, and convincing us that it didn’t have to bear a German nameplate.
Just a few days ago, we were there when another very similar event occurred. Once again, it was the debut of an exceptional luxury sedan, and again, it came from an unexpected source. This time around, the car is the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, and in its own way, it is just as significant a debut as the first Acura Legend, Lexus LS 400 and Infiniti Q45. Genesis is probably the most appropriate name the company could come up with, as the word is defined as the origin of something significant. With a 375-horsepower V-8, rear-drive, a roomy and luxurious interior and all the technology doodads you’d expect in a modern luxury sedan, the manufacturer makes no bones about offering Mercedes-Benz levels of luxury and performance at, well, a Hyundai price. Executives even talk about two levels of competition: price competitors such as the Pontiac G8 and Chrysler 300, and “image” competitors which include the BMW 550i, Lexus GS 460 and Infiniti M45.
Yet unlike Honda, Toyota and Nissan, Hyundai chose to introduce its new luxury car as a Hyundai, and not under a new luxury brand. Carrying that corporate logo on the trunk is a risky move, if there is any one X-factor to this car’s success or failure it may be that chrome “H.” While the Genesis is an excellent sedan by any objective or subjective measure, the fact that it shares the showroom and brand name with Accents and Elantras, may be hard for some to accept. In our opinion though, if luxury car buyers pass up the Genesis for that reason alone, they’re simply missing the point: Hyundai is doing more than just entering a new segment with the Genesis, it’s firmly establishing itself as a capable builder of high-end cars, something it has been building up to for some time now, even if you haven’t noticed.