Hyundai brings out some remarkable engineering

2009, Hyundai, Genesis

With its new Genesis sedan, Hyundai continues its assault on the positions of its more established Asian automaker rivals and luxury European marques.

The Genesis is available with Hyundai's first-ever V-8 engine, and as a rear-wheel drive sedan, it seeks to demonstrate serious performance chops.

So does it deliver?

Kind of hard to say. Our test-drive route in South Florida, while scenic, didn't exactly lend itself to really putting the Genesis through its paces.

But from what we could observe, the V-8 does have admirable power, and the handling seemed at least adequate.

The Genesis is taking aim at others in the luxury segment such as the Lexus GS, Infiniti M and even the BMW 5-Series.

But as is always the case with Hyundai, it seeks to set itself apart from those by providing a compelling value case.

Indeed the Genesis 3.8, which logically has a 3.8-liter V-6 engine, can be had very nicely equipped for about $36,000. That compares with about $44,655 for an Infiniti M35 and about $50,625 for a BMW 535i.

The Genesis 4.6, which logically has a 4.6-liter V-8, tops out at around $42,000.

The question now is can Hyundai turn some of those, uh, not snobby, but let's say brand-conscious consumers of Lexus and BMW into potential Genesis buyers?

Some slick marketing will help, and Hyundai has already rolled out TV commercials for the Genesis.

But most likely, it will all come down to how folks view the product.

Here's our view.

Hyundai chose not to go too bold in designing the Genesis. Its lines aren't all that sweeping or dramatic.

But it's also a design that isn't likely to turn off too many people. If you like premium or luxury mid- to large-size sedans such as those made by the brands named above, you likely won't have much of a problem with this one.

That goes for the interior, too.

The leather seats were comfortable, the dashboard was well arranged with easy to use controls and the lighting was effective and a little stylish.

But there was nothing revolutionary, and maybe that's Ok..

We got to test both the V-6 and V-8 and afterward concluded that Hyundai's projection of 80 percent of its buyers choosing the six-banger should come to pass.

That's no knock against the V-8. Its 375 horsepower and fuel economy numbers of 17 mpg city and 25 highway were impressive.

Plus, Hyundai says you don't have to put premium fuel in it.

But, the V-6 makes 275 ponies that felt like more and its mpg numbers are 18 and 27.

So save one or two grand and get Genesis 3.8.

The Genesis boasts a strong lineup of amenities that will appeal to buyers in this segment.

In the 3.8, you can get a Premium Package for $2,000 that will give you a leather-wrapped dash, power sunroof, integrated memory system, power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers and a Lexicon 14-speaker surround sound system.

Move up to the Technology Package and you add three speakers to the system, XM Satellite Radio and NavTraffic and a cooled driver seat, among other items.

The 4.6 offers a similar tech package.

So, all of that is nice, but will it be enough to do battle in a competitive market segment?

Hyundai says it will try to highlight the remarkable engineering behind the Genesis, and the thoughtfulness that went into the car's creation.

For instance, it sought to build a driver information system that would be much easier to use than the BMW I-Drive system, which induces headaches among many users.

From what we could observe, Hyundai was successful, offering a much more intuitive system.

Hyundai also says it wants to target a broader audience to elevate its brand, with plans to advertise in such publications as Forbes, Time and Sports Illustrated and on the ESPN, CNBC and CNN TV networks.

Additionally, Hyundai is embarking on a 15-city Discover Genesis tour, which sounds like something that 80s rock group that featured Phil Collins would do.

But maybe Hyundai has that invisible touch that will make this Genesis a big hit.

(Sorry if that song is now stuck in your head).

By Rob Douthit

More Hyundai car reviews?

Images of the 2009, Hyundai Genesis

2009 Hyundai Genesis front view
2009 Hyundai Genesis front view
2009 Hyundai Genesis interior
2009 Hyundai Genesis interior
2009 Hyundai Genesis GPS unit
2009 Hyundai Genesis GPS unit
2009 Hyundai Genesis side shot
2009 Hyundai Genesis side shot