May 6, 2014
2015 Hyundai Genesis. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jacob Black
Vernon, BC – There are many ways to redefine a brand. You can pour money into new “strategic partnerships”, marketing and sponsorship to change your corporate image, you can even spend money on a new logo and name and a lot of advertising to establish a new brand altogether – or you can simply start changing the product until your old line is a distant memory and your new one dominates the consciousness.
The latter is what Hyundai is doing with the Genesis. All new for 2015, the Genesis will now be supplied in Canada exclusively with HTRAC all-wheel drive. There are three V6 trims, the $43,000 Genesis 3.8 Premium, $48,000 Luxury and $53,000 Technology, plus the $62,000 V8-powered Genesis 5.0 Ultimate. 5.0L V8 and 3.8L V6 have both been revised and are mated to the HTRAC AWD system via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Hyundai knows who its customer base is and knows its position in the market. In the presentation on demographics, National Manager of Product and Strategic Planning Michael Ricciuto said that unlike marques like Infiniti, who have produced premium cars on a non-premium platform, Hyundai designed the Genesis from the ground up to line up against the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But despite asserting that the Genesis is comparable or even better than cars from the list above, Ricciuto admits that Hyundai has a brand identity problem. The Genesis demographic will therefore be tech savvy, upwardly mobile professionals who are not brand conscious. Hyundai feels that if the name on the badge is not something a buyer is after, then the Genesis is the best large sedan option going.
And by “large” we mean “enormous”. Of the five cars Hyundai says the Genesis was designed to challenge it is the longest (4,990 mm), widest (1,890 mm) and has the longest wheelbase (4,990 mm). It’s also the heaviest at 1,948 kg for the base model and 2,143 kg for the fully loaded V8.
In this market, being the largest might actually be helpful. With bulk comes cargo volume and passenger volume; there is 3,052 L of interior volume and 433 L of cargo space in the boot. However, a lack of split-fold rear seats means cargo space is all but locked, with a ski pass-through the only nod to additional cargo practicality. Only the Mercedes-Benz and BMW best the Genesis on interior and cargo volume.
The Genesis benefits from the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language that dictates a sloped-rear end and cabin-back profile à la Audi A7. Where the Elantra and Sonata are over-sculpted, the Genesis is more refined. The result is character lines that aren’t obnoxious and don’t detract from the elegance of the car’s profile. That profile silhouette is the defining feature according to Genesis chief designer John Krsteski, whom we interviewed at this past year’s Toronto Auto Show. The large grille and LED lights give the front end a decidedly upscale appearance. In fact, upscale features abound throughout the car, from the enormous panoramic sunroof to the projected “Genesis” logos that shine from the side-view mirrors when you approach the car, right through to those LED running lights and fog lights and the Napa leather interior.
There is even a proximity-triggered trunk lid, which is supposed to open whenever the driver is standing still behind the car for three seconds with the fob in their pocket – try as we might though, we couldn’t get it to work, leaving me the arduous task of using my pinky to press the power-trunk lid button. Woe is me.
2015 Hyundai Genesis headlights & dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Everywhere we drove, we were confronted by people demanding to know what sort of car this was – to a person they were all blown away when we pointed to the Hyundai badge on the trunk lid. This was even more impressive given our surroundings. Hyundai chose to launch the Genesis at the upscale Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC, set against the backdrop of the beautiful British Columbia interior. This is also wine country, and there is plenty of money around these parts; these are not people used to being dazzled by Korean cars. One person remarked that the car looked like a Bentley before climbing into his Mercedes-Benz with a contemplative look on his face.