By Tony Markovich (@T_Marko)
Last week, Hyundai rounded up a clan of New York City auto journalists, brought us to the New Museum in Manhattan, gave us some breakfast, gave us pens that had flash drives built into them on some super spy stuff, sat us through 72 slides (not an exaggeration) of PR speak/information, and sent us on our way up to the Palisades in New Jersey in the newly redesigned 2015 Genesis.
On the way, I tested the V6 GDi's ability to go from 0-30 (other speeds, too!), pressed the power seats in every angle possible, used the cooling seats to prevent any nasty back sweat, and intentionally switched lanes without a blinker (when in Rome NYC, right?) to see how annoying the lane departure warning actually is. As a reward for sitting in traffic up the Henry Hudson Parkway, we were given some delightful little Hyundai-branded Pop-Tartish things, and then sent back into the abyss that is "the island." I thankfully lived to tell the tale. These are my observations.
The ride almost made me forget how freakishly horrible NYC roads are right now.
It's quite smooth, really. The potholes and "fixed" potholes right now are everywhere, and driving up the west side of the city is usually a rough and jiggly ride. It wasn't in the Genesis, and although I still noticed the bumps because I was paying attention to them, you couldn't really hear all the noise they usually make. It was a pretty nice reprieve from the stressful struggle and made the city exit that much more enjoyable. I can't imagine anybody would ever complain that this ride weren't good enough.
The seats were some of the most comfortable I've sat in.
The leather is extremely soft, the power seats can adjust 12 different ways, they feel like they're wrapping you in cushioning, the heating and cooling is efficient and effective, and headrests actually felt-pillowish. I usually can't put my head back comfortably. The genesis allowed for that.
It looks way better than the old model and now looks better than the Equus. (for further reference, this is an Equus).
Huge improvement in this department, if you ask me. I absolutely loved the HCD-14 Concept, and although it's watered down, as expected, you can definitely see the soul of that concept in the production Genesis. And as far as I'm concerned, the old model was just flat-out ugly. Some people have said that the new grille looks too Audi, which is kinda true, but the flat lower lip and the headlights are significantly different enough that I didn't even think of that on my own. I actually see comparisons with the rear of the Genesis and the Equus with older model Lexuses, which could be good or bad, depending on how you feel about luxury Toyotas.
I think this design will maintain its understated, but handsome, appearance for some years to come, unlike the old model, which I personally thought looked kind of dated when it debuted. And the current Equus just looks like a slightly modified version of the old Genesis, so the refresh on that will be welcomed with wide open arms.
The heads-up display (HUD) is one of the best I've seen.
It is nice and easy to clearly see (in color), it is concise, it offers a lot of information without cluttering or making you think, and it doesn't get in the way of driving. Everything a good HUD should be this was, including things like speed limit, navigation instructions/future turns, and access to additional safety tech like adaptive cruise control. It's a wonder more cars aren't using this.
And it has plenty of other solid tech features to play with.
- The center knob used to control the optionally large 9.2-inch screen is obviously a call on what the competitors are using, and it works pretty inuitively with the interface.
- I still think it's silly/weird that the analog clock is a sign of prestige. It just feels so unnecessary and useles, but that's coming from somebody who uses a digital G-Shock, so what do I know?
- There's an optional 17-speaker Lexicon speaker system. It sounds fantastic.
- As we mentioned before, the seats move 12 different ways (including lumbar) and the heating and cooling features both work really well and quickly.
- It has an optional power trunk that opens by itself if you stand behind it with the key in your pocket. It seems kind of excessive to me, and not really a big deal that I have to use a key on any other car, but they made a big deal out of it. The guy I drove with tried to make it work, and couldn't get it to open, so there's that.
- It has the luxury safety fixins you'd expect, like lane departure, lane-keep assist, and smart cruise control. If you were going to be driving mostly straight for a long time at 70 mph (aka if you grew up in my home state of Indiana), you really could probably set this thing up and not really have to drive at all. That's both impressive and scary at the same time.
- The total sunroof is enormous, but when you try to open it, it's much less impressive.
The new open-pore wood looks great, but we wonder how it'll age.
Open-pore wood is going to be one of the biggest trends in this new generation of luxury cars. People think the glazed look looks tacky now, because it looks too plasticky. And people have all realized they really hate hard, plasticky-feeling things in their cars. Because luxury is soft, and embracing, and "warm," and all that jazz. So, now when you touch your wood, you can actually feel wood, not clear coat.
And that's lovely, and we agree that it looks much better, we're just worried about people actually touching it too much. How's it going to looks when everybody who sits in the front seat is like, "ooooh, ahhhh, this is nice, what kind of wood is this?" All while they're poking and stroking, slathering all of that unwanted hand cheese onto your car's interior. And please, if you get a car with this type of wood, actually know what kind of wood it is. If you want to be fancy, actually act fancy and talk about that sweet grain.
The V6 model is pretty punchy.
The new Genesis comes in a few different formats. You have the Lambda 3.8L GDi V6, which comes with the 8-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters), and either AWD or RWD, and you have the Tau 5.) GDi V8. We were only able to try out the V6 (because once people get their hands on the V8, they tend not to give it back up for adoption), which has 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque. The V8 only comes in RWD and has 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.
The V6 RWD model weighs 4,138, but the amount of low-end torque was actually very adequate and never left us asking for more. It had no trouble getting off the on-ramp into the thick of things, and the car overall didn't feel heavy at all. It wasn't light, obviously, but it didn't feel big to me. Now, yes, this car has paddle shifters. They are the thicker, plastic plates that are kind of meh, and Hyundai literally said that it took into consideration the words of auto journalists who said that it should have them. That's why they said they added paddle shifters. I think it's kind of silly, because what person who buys this car is really going to use paddle shifters on a regular basis? The auto transmission did just fine without them.
However, the gas mileage isn't good.
The RWD V6 gets 18/29/22, the AWD V6 gets 16/25/19, and the V8 RWD gets 15/23/18. There's not really much else to say. Competitors have other options like hybrid powertrains or turbocharged four-cylinder engines that seem like they'd fit perfectly in this model, but that's currently not what Hyundai is offering. Even a diesel could be good here. Really, just another option that doesn't leave you likely in the teens for MPGs. If we're going to waste gas like that, it'll likely be in a sports car.
This thing is premium and worth the money, any way you look at it.
Hyundai is aiming at the Cadillac CTS, the Lexus GS, the Lexus ES, the Infiniti Q70, the BMW 528i, and the Mercedes-Benz E350 with this car. The base 3.8 RWD Genesis model starts at $38,000, which is about $7K less than the closest of those competitors. The model I was in was the maxed-out Ultimate 3.8 RWD, and it was a little more than $50,000. The Benz E350 base starts at about $52,000.
This car is surely going to draw a lot of new customers who are graduating from the Ford Fusion, the Chevy Impala, the Toyota Avalon, or the Honda Accord, but maybe are still a little skittish about spending $60-$70K on their ride. Will it drag away customers who are already in the CTS or the E350? That's probably not likely, but for open-minded people who are actually willing to try other things, this definitely presents a much more affordable option for pretty similar luxury.