Christopher Little

First Drive: 2015 Hyundai Genesis

Limited Slip Blog was founded just over two years ago. For those of you that have been with us long enough to remember, our first review came a few months later when Hyundai provided us with a Genesis Coupe 2.0T. We, being a young and ambitious duo, decided that the best course of action would be to drive it up a mountain. It seems fitting, then, that we just spent a few days with Hyundai in the mountains of Arizona to drive the all-new 2015 Genesis.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3

The second generation Genesis debuted in Detroit earlier this year as the first production model to be graced with Hyundai’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design. The plethora of character lines and curves of recent Hyundai sedans have been replaced by straighter, sharper edges. The Genesis’ front end is dominated by a large grille and new LED fog lights. Love it or hate it, large front grilles and LEDs  are now a luxury trend. The Hyundai wears it well, save for the old-fashioned amber DRLs. The long hood, swept greenhouse, and short deck give the Hyundai one of the nicest profiles in the luxury segment.  Around back, Genesis is a bit generic. The curved trunk lid, LED tail lights and exhaust finishers could be confused for an Audi or Lexus from a distance. Interestingly, the rear end is still the only place the Genesis wears a Hyundai badge.

The Genesis’ new body uses high strength steel to increase rigidity. The stiffer chassis shares no parts with the outgoing model. The 5.0L V8 and 3.8L V6 return with minor updates. Both engines operate through an updated 8-speed Shiftronic transmission. Shift are now faster and can be controlled through paddle shifters that are standard across the range. New multi-link suspension in the front and rear are stiffer to provide better stability and control. The power steering has been relocated from the column onto the rack, and an electric motor replaces the old electro-hydraulic system. Hyundai’s Eco/Normal/Sport drive modes return, controlling the steering and steering shift logic. The 5.0 model has optional electronically-controlled suspension that stiffens in Sport mode. The result is a drive that is more capable and sport-tuned than the previous generation.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 6

One of the biggest additions for 2015 is the optional HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. The Genesis is Hyundai’s first AWD sedan. We love big RWD sedans, but sometimes climate conditions dictate a more practical solution. Optional only with the 3.8 V6, the system splits power 40/60 front/rear. When conditions dictate, up to 90% of the power can be routed in either direction. In fact, that ratio automatically changes to 20/80 in sport mode. Even in AWD form, Hyundai’s engineers have baked some performance into their luxury sedan. That’s a good thing, since the Genesis’ competitors are all available with AWD. Hyundai isn’t shy about dropping names, either. The Lexus GS, Mercedes E-class, and Cadillac CTS are primary targets. Of course the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 mingle with that crowd as well.

Climb into the Genesis and its unlike any Hyundai you’ve ever been in, even after spending a week in the Equus. The upgraded leather seats come with power thigh support and side bolsters. In front of the driver is a 7″ LCD cluster display similar to that of the Equus, but with physical primary gauges. Don’t plan on spending too much time looking there, however. A color heads-up display broadcasts a huge amount of information right on the windscreen. Speed, navigation directions, lane departure warning, and blind spot alerts are all projected out onto the world ahead. Despite having all this information centralized in one place, you will want to stop and take a look around the cabin. Cars equipped with the Ultimate package come with stunning matte wood trim with aluminum accents and a large panoramic sunroof. The wide trim gives way to a crisp 720p, 9.2″ touchscreen. The center stack features an intuitive layout of buttons and knobs for HVAC and basic audio control. Full control of the Genesis’ infotainment systems, including the upgraded 17-speaker Lexicon sound system and a number of media apps, is done through an Audi-like central control pad and dial. Perhaps the only disappointment inside is the thin and un-contoured wheel. A bit more to grab onto would add further sporting pretense to the experience.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 12

Our drive in the new Genesis took us away from Scottsdale and deep into Tonto National Forest. The early-morning leg of Interstate was spent in Normal mode. The steering is light, the cabin is quiet, and the driver assistance tech keeps the Genesis in its lane at a measured distance behind the car ahead. Turning off the Interstate and into the national forest brings a change of scenery and a change of roads. With high speed limits and low traffic, save for a few packs of new Hyundai, Arizona’s national forests provided some of the best uninterrupted driving I’ve ever experienced. The sweeping split-lane roads are perfect luxury-sedan territory. Good roads are only as good as the car on them, and the new Genesis was built for this. It was time for Sport mode. The steering gains weight, the transmission sheds a few gears, and the 5.0L V8 stirs. Speed comes quietly and with little effort. A pleasant rumbling can be heard as the engine runs up above 4,000rpms. The new Genesis is so vastly improved over its predecessor that it doesn’t even feel right to compare them. Where the old car was floaty and disconnected the new car is poised and communicative. The active dampers keep roll to a minimum and filter out the worst of the road imperfections. Only under braking does the Genesis hit at its true size. The pedal isn’t confidence inspiring and lead to at least one moment of uncertainty entering a tight corner.

Switching over to the 3.8 HTRAC, there’s a noticeable change in demeanor. The Genesis feels more natural on standard springs. The ride is less synthetic and there’s a better sense of weight transfer. Even without the active suspension, the Genesis is comfortable and well balanced. The 3.8L V6 may be lighter than the V8, but the extra 150lbs in drivetrain components nullifies any weight savings. That V6 works a little harder to get the Genesis moving. There’s a more noticeable and somewhat less refined engine noise under hard acceleration. However the V6 is capable of maintaining speed and quiets right down in the higher gears. There wasn’t much opportunity to test the AWD system’s capabilities, but it handled gravel roads and dusty run-offs without noticeable interruption. In the Northeast, it’ll be a $2,500 must-have option.

2015 Hyundai Genesis 5

We walked away from the 2015 Hyundai Genesis highly impressed. In only two generations, Hyundai has developed a seriously competitive luxury sport sedan. The new styling and high-tech equipment keep the Genesis modern and connected. Revised suspension and steering finally bring the Genesis some sporting capabilities. The whole car feels younger and more accessible. That’s quite true as well, since the Genesis remains thousands less expensive than its competitors. The 3.8 starts around $38,000, the 5.0 at $51,500. Value and new-age luxury remain in Hyundai’s wheelhouse. Expect the new Genesis to hit showrooms by the end of this month.

Update: Read our full review of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 HTRAC here.

-Christopher Little
Related: The Executive is in Town: 2013 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec

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