2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 V8
2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 V8. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2009 Hyundai Genesis
Test Drive: 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6

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2009 Hyundai Genesis

Oshawa, Ontario – It’s been very interesting to follow the evolution of Hyundai’s sedan offerings in Canada. In 2001, it launched the XG300, followed a year later by a larger engine that bumped it up to the XG350. A completely redesigned and far plusher Sonata hit the market for 2006, the same year that the Azera luxury sedan proved a considerable improvement on the XG350 it replaced.

And now, for 2009, Hyundai has unwrapped the Genesis. It’s a fitting name, given that it’s the company’s first rear-wheel drive car on this continent (aside from the Pony). And for an initial showing, it’s a home run: quite simply, this car rocks. I made a game out of putting friends in the back seat, driving them around, and asking them to name the brand. Guesses ran to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus, with no one figuring it out correctly. It’s not going to wipe those competitors out by any means, but this newest Hyundai means that even more companies need to look over their shoulders, especially when the two-door coupe version arrives shortly.

The Genesis with 3.8-litre V6 starts at $37,995, which can be optioned with a Premium Package for $39,995, and an additional Technology Package for $44,995. My tester used the 4.6-litre V8, which starts at $43,995; the only option is the Technology Package, which adds a number of features and brought my vehicle to $48,995. That’s a lot of money for a Hyundai, but it’s not a lot for the segment.

2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 V8
2009 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 V8. Click image to enlarge

When you look at vehicles with similar dimensions and engine size, the Lexus GS 460 starts at $63,300 (and it’s $65,850 with navigation, as my tester had), while a rear-wheel drive Infiniti M45 Sport starts at $69,150; the front-wheel drive Lincoln MKS, with V6 engine, starts at $44,599. And the Hyundai’s lower price doesn’t come with any compromises.

The list of standard equipment is a long one: eight airbags including rear seat-side ones, three-stage heated leather seats, power tilt and telescopic wheel, proximity key with pushbutton start, rain-sensing windshield wipers (alas), memory seats, front and rear park assist, auto-levelling xenon headlamps, sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, illuminated scuff plates, and leather-wrapped dash. The Technology Package adds aluminum interior trim, Bluetooth, driver information centre, cooled driver’s seat, navigation system, backup camera, adaptive xenon lamps, power rear sunshade, and a six-CD/DVD Lexicon surround sound system that will play movies when the vehicle is in Park. Hyundai makes a big deal out of the fact that the only other automaker to use a Lexicon system is Rolls-Royce, and so it should play it up: it’s simply an awesome system, with crystal-clear sound and no distortion at any volume level. I have a few songs that were transferred from albums to CD to computer to iPod; for the first time ever – and I’ve listened to them in a lot of test vehicles – I realized there were crackles and pops from the vinyl in them.

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