2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan: What the Equus Should Have Been
When Hyundai made their entry into the luxury market almost a decade ago, they offered up the Genesis sedan as competition with the likes of a Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class, or even a BMW 5-series. Hyundai claimed the Genesis had performance credentials to take on Japan’s and Europe’s best. It was a nice sedan with some nice features but it ranked closer to a rear-wheel drive and loaded Buick LaCrosse, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Avalon- if there were such a car. It was a good entry-level luxury car at a very reasonable price.
However, to compete with the best sedans of the world, Hyundai needed more than good rear-wheel drive performance and some bells and whistles wrapped in leather. Introducing the all-new 2015 Genesis at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit was Hyundai’s message that they are serious competition this time around. After a week behind the wheel of the new Genesis, I can attest to the fact that Hyundai is correct! This is a world-class sedan that rides right in the middle of the sports sedan elite lineup.
First off, they spent some time developing an all-new rear-drive platform using lighter and stronger materials. Over half of the new platform uses high-strength steel which is laser-welded to achieve a 16 percent stiffer torsional rigidity and 40 percent stiffer bending rigidity. This translates into a very solid driving car that bested the BMW 5-series platform.
One benefit to a stiff body is the use of new suspension geometries for a smooth ride that is also able to corner with the best sedans around. Rough roads were used throughout Hyundai’s testing and they have excelled ride quality. I tortured this car on some unfriendly pavement on desert back roads and the notoriously rough Los Angeles 405 freeway. All the while, the Genesis maintained balance and tires maintained contact with the pavement. Reinforced body and chassis mounting points, new hot stamping and dipping techniques for the B-pillar and roof sides, all helped keep the driver in control.
There are many manufactures who offer AWD options for their full-size sedans today and some of these cars only loose one mile-per-gallon. That being said, Hyundai’s new HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. When traction is needed in the colder regions of the USA, this would be a worthwhile additional expense. Consumers should know that the extra costs continue with a loss of 3 MPG compared to the RWD 3.8 liter model, even though the system is only 165 lbs.
My only complaint is that there are too many decisions the driver has to make here. The driver can choose Normal, Sport, or Eco- just for the AWD system. Yes, the Sport setting gives a more aggressive feel with more torque to the rear wheels. And yes, ECO will find another gallon of gas. And yes, this system has “a wider range of torque distribution variability than many competitive systems and has been tuned to variable conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill-starts.”
Even so, there are just too many buttons to select, too many decisions to make every time one gets into the car to drive. There are driving modes, tractions modes, steering modes, and just too many buttons... period. Hyundai fell into the popular trend of more choices equates to more luxury. The steering wheel, dash, center console, and instrument panels are lit up with dozens of buttons and switches.
Anyone who can afford a luxury sedan might like to have the car automatically handle the traction, suspension, steering, and gear-shift controls for them. Transmission overrides are fun on occasion but the rest can be controlled by a computer- since there are dozens of them onboard already.
The Genesis 5.0 liter model has an optional Continuous Damping Control (CDC) suspension which increases flat cornering and decreases body roll. Independent roll control characteristics are achieved using separate tuning controls: Normal mode helps provide superior ride comfort, while Sport mode tightens up damping forces and gives the tires more control. Hyundai claims that, “Handling and road-holding also benefit from a well-balanced 52/48 ratio of front-to-rear weight distribution.”
I preferred my test Genesis 3.8 liter V6 with a weight distribution of almost 50/50 front-to-rear ratios. The Genesis 5.0 liter V8 is also 400 pounds heavier and 4 miles-per-gallon more thirsty at the gas pump. The extra power would be felt under heavy acceleration but not in typical suburban driving situations. Also, if consumers want the optional AWD, you can only get this wonderful road friendly powertrain with the 3.8 liter motor.
Standard on all 2015 models are the new aluminum shock towers and new strut bars which beef up the front structure rigidity for better steering. A new rear multi-link suspension with 5-link geometry has more room to articulate so it gives more dynamic performance and ride comfort. Hyundai engineers explain that “a reduction in camber angles when turning at speed results in improved steering feel, 23 percent less tire tilt, and increased lateral grip.” All I know is this sedan is a pleasure to drive and fun to throw into corners when the road calls for it.
The only carry-over components from the 2014 Genesis to the new one are the engine choices. The award-winning 5.0 liter Tau V8 engine produces 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. This is a high-pressure direct injection engine with strong low-end power and lower emissions. Hyundai has upped the compression ratio and upgraded the multiple-injection mapping for flatter torque curves. Hyundai has also stepped up their target competition by comparing the Genesis 5.0 with the Mercedes E550 4.6 liter V8 Biturbo sedan, the Infiniti M56 5.6 liter V8 sedan, and the Audi A6 3.0 turbo and super-charged sedans.
My tested Genesis came with the proven 3.8 liter direct-injected Lambda engine. Improvements include similar re-mapping of software to optimize a flatter overall torque curve. Power was available from off the line all the way up to highway speeds. With just 311 horsepower, the torque was never interrupted by turbo lags. This engine uses high compression and a three-stage variable intake system for better fuel and air delivery. Coupled with the same 8-speed automatic transmission as the 5.0, our 3.8 liter powertrain worked flawlessly.
Furthermore, the Lambda engine will run on regular fuel with only a small reduction in peak power to save on money once again.
Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture styling language has moved into its 2.0 upgrade, as seen in the 2015 Genesis and Sonata exteriors. They say it encapsulates a trio of main design elements with a sculpted affect. My eye sees a very attractive and stately sedan that taken cues from Mercedes, Audi, and even elements from Austin Martin with a huge oval grille up front.
The dimensions are only up slightly but this generation feels like a larger car. The new Genesis is actually what the Equus should have been 3 years ago. It is beautiful to look at; large enough to chauffer people in comfort, and performs with the best luxury sedans in the world. With a longer wheelbase edition, the Genesis fulfills the luxury sedan niche but at a price-point that the Hyundai brand can support. Local dealerships are better suited to handle a vehicle like Genesis with good customer care. Furthermore, Hyundai has a hard time merging their US image as a store for economic transportation with the likes of an $80k Equus.
The new 18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels have a great style and are not too futuristic looking- compared to the Kia counterparts. These wheels are upgraded with stronger materials and resist deflection forces for more precise suspension response to changing road surfaces.
Hyundai did add some upscale options which enhance the owner experience and safety such as an Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system. It worked well and did not interfere with normal driving unless I got to close to another car.
Using cameras and sensors in the bumpers, the Genesis can help avoid a potential collision or reduce its impact. This system uses the Smart Cruise Control system and the forward camera from the Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) to provide this extra margin of safety. The new cruise control system allows for full function braking down to zero mph to operate seamlessly in stop-and-go traffic conditions, if the driver really wants to give up this much control.
The 2015 Genesis will be Hyundai’s launch car with the second-generation Blue Link and infotainment system. Some of the nice features include search software powered by Google. It enables passengers to use Google to search for destinations and information, and then use the navigation to get there. The smartphone Remote Start now includes an engine timer (from 1 to 10 min.), remote stop, remote climate control and remote defroster feature.
Other than the multitude of buttons, the new cabin layout is attractive with sweeping lines that move away from the front occupants, giving an open and airy feeling. The satin wood and bushed aluminum surfaces are beautifully understated. Genesis fit and finish is first cabin. Everything is organized into zones but the right side controls are too far to reach for shorter arms without taking the driver out of position. The interior volume is up to 123.0 cubic feet. There is a noticeable increase in head, shoulder and legroom over many sedans in this size range.
The seats are comfortable in all 5 positions and the driver’s seat is especially comfortable for the long hauls. Adjustable driver’s seat power bolsters and seat cushion extensions let every size person get situated. Genesis seating includes 12-way power front seats, 4-way power lumbar support, heated front seats with ventilation, as well as available heated rear seats. Like so many European manufacturers, Hyundai now crafts with double stitching and quality leather throughout the interior. (BTW- Cadillac has also stepped up with this kind of detail as well).
More luxury is found in details like manual rear side sunshades for occupant protection, while all can look out of the new available panoramic sunroof. The rear sunshade is power. Standard equipment on our 3.8 included a host of features such as:
* Automatic headlights w/ LED headlight accents
* Daytime running lights
* 4.3-inch TFT LCD cluster display
* Power folding outside mirrors with Genesis logo puddle lamps
* Hands-free Smart Trunk opener
* Heated dual power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators
* Leather seating surfaces
* Power windows with front & rear auto-down/up with pinch protection
* Electroluminescent gauge cluster
* Proximity key with push-button start
* Intelligent drive mode select
* Leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustment
* Steering-wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls
* Dual automatic temperature control
* Auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with compass & HomeLink®
* Touchscreen Navigation System w/8-inch Display
Hyundai has included larger four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). The Genesis 3.8 models get 13.6-inch front rotors and the 5.0 models gets 14.2-inch front rotors. Both braking systems use four-piston fixed monobloc calipers. These provided real stopping power but if this is not enough to avoid an accident, the 2015 Hyundai Genesis employs a suite of active driver safety technologies dubbed a Sensory Surround Safety TM.
Hyundai’s 2015 Genesis sedan is the first and only rear-wheel drive vehicle in its class to receive the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest honor as a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK+ when equipped with optional front crash prevention. Genesis is also the first rear-wheel drive luxury sedan to earn a Good rating in the small overlap crash test.
Already in the showrooms, the Genesis starts at $38,000 for the well-equipped 3.8 liter V6 and $51,500 for the loaded 5.0 liter V8 model. When compared to their target competition, the new Genesis is a value in the luxury market and worth a closer look.
Direct Injected Lamda 3.8-liter engine:
2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan
2015 Lexus GS
2015 Mercedes E350
2015 Cadillac CTS
2.0 I4 Turbo
2015 Audi A6
2015 BMW 535i
3.0L I6 Turbo
2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan
MPG: 18 city/29 highway
Horsepower: 311 horsepower to 420 horsepower
Torque: 293 lb-ft to 383 lb-ft
Engine size: 3.8-liter 5.0-liter
2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 3.8
2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 3.8 AWD
2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 5.0