FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Hyundai Genesis
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It doesn't mind shooting you through mountain passes at high speeds, but it won't make a fuss of it.
We were sitting on the side of the road, waiting to figure out whether or not the Arizona Highway Patrol was going to ticket our 2015 Hyundai Genesis for speeding. That's when the trooper, who had never seen the all-new Genesis in the flesh, gave the car some high praise:
'What kind of car is that? A BMW?'
It's a good day when your brand-new luxury sedan is good enough to be compared to a car that's been at or near the top of the mid-size luxury market for longer than your author has been alive. BMW, Mercedes, and Audi rule this game with their 5-Series, E-Class, and A6. Cadillac's mounting a serious offensive in this segment with its CTS. Even the Japanese have a solid entry by way of the Lexus GS. Hyundai's had the Genesis in the running for several years now, but up through this year, it's never been one to stand out.
That changes with the all-new 2015 Genesis. At the same price point, it blows the competition out of the water with a bevy of standard features that could fill as many pages as the last Harry Potter book. On paper, it's a very, very good value proposition. But once you get behind the wheel, does it still capture your attention in the same way? We flew out to Scottsdale, Arizona, in order to find that out.
But on the whole, the interior made a major aesthetic move upward. Everything you can touch feels premium (a tall order for a car that starts under $40,000 - ask Lexus). With the optional semi-aniline leather interior, it's a very comfortable place to spend time. You'll quickly forget how inexpensive the car is compared to its competitors. There is no cheapo, bottom-of-the-barrel, faux-leather option, like its competitors offer. You start with leather, and it can only get better from there.
The power delivery, while ample, does a good job hiding behind the car's overall luxury. Even the Tau V-8 is rather quiet at full clip, but that said, the engine note that does come through is pleasant. It doesn't mind shooting you through mountain passes at high speeds, but it won't make a fuss of it.
The V-8 comes with optional adjustable dampers, which provide a slightly stiffer ride in sport mode. But again, luxury is still the primary focus, so don't expect a ride consistent with a 911 GT3 or anything. The electric-assisted power steering is also adjustable, and its motor-on-rack design does give the driver a much better feeling than a typical motor-on-column setup. That said, the Sport setting feels straight-up heavy, perhaps a little too much so.
In terms of all the fancy technology packed into the car, it works very nicely without much required from the driver. The lane-keep assist has two intervention thresholds; in the more aggressive mode, it did its best to keep the car mostly centered in the lane. Just make sure to turn it off before any sort of sporty driving - otherwise, you'll catch the car correcting your lines when you don't want it to.
In short, despite a few nitpicks here and there, Hyundai has seriously stepped up its game with the 2015 Genesis. Delivering all this great stuff at a nearly unbelievable price point isn't easy, but Hyundai shows us that it can be done. Well, as long as you're not a German automaker.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power Output: 311 hp / 293 lb-ft (V-6); 420 hp / 383 lb-ft (V-8)
Fuel Economy: 18 city / 29 highway (V-6, RWD); 16 city / 25 highway (V-6, AWD); 15 city / 23 highway (V-8, RWD)
Base Price: $38,000 (V-6, RWD); $40,500 (V-6, AWD); $51,500 (V-8, RWD)
Optional Features: V-6 Signature Package (power tilt-and-slide panoramic moonroof, seat memory, power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, blind-spot monitor, 14-speaker Lexicon premium audio, HID headlights, power rear sunshade, manual side sunshades, ventilated front seats), V-6 Technology Package (semi-aniline leather seats, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, haptic-feedback steering wheel, automatic braking, high-beam assist, front and rear parking sensors, seven-inch display in the gauge cluster), V-6 Ultimate Package (matte-finish wood trim, head-up display, premium navigation with nine-inch 720p screen, 17-speaker Lexicon premium audio system, power trunk lid, dual-mode climate control with carbon-dioxide sensor), V-8 Ultimate Package (adjustable-damping suspension, head-up display, premium navigation with nine-inch 720p screen, 17-speaker Lexicon premium audio system, power trunk lid, dual-mode climate control with carbon-dioxide sensor)