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2009 Hyundai Genesis Review

Friday July 25th, 2008 at 6:77 AM
Posted by: Derek

Handling

With benchmark models such as the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E Class, the Hyundai Genesis aims high. Hyundai gave the Genesis the DNA to compete, with five-link front (no McPherson struts) and rear suspensions and a rigid rear-drive unibody structure.

The Genesis also features multi-vein shocks, which Hyundai calls Amplitude Selective Dampers. These shocks have one mode for small, high-frequency bumps and ripples and another mode for larger motions. On the road, they help the Genesis provide a smooth, quiet ride. We experienced no float or wallow, though we did find that the ride got too bouncy over humps and ruts at highway speeds.

2009 Hyundai Genesis on the test track

I had the opportunity to drive the Genesis on twisty two-lane California roads and on a road course to test the handling. At the racetrack, Hyundai provided a Mercedes-Benz E Class for comparison, and I can honestly say the Genesis is a viable sport sedan and a fair match for the Mercedes, though with a different character. While the E Class tends to lean a little more and squeal more in tight turns, it also provides a lot of feedback. The Genesis, on the other hand, provides less feedback, but it stays flatter through turns. The Genesis also feels nimble and is perfectly happy being hustle through tight, twisty stretches of road.

Of the three cars I drove on the track (the Genesis 3.8 and 4.6, and the Mercedes E Class), the 3.8L model was the easiest to rotate through turns, thanks to its 52/48 weight balance (compared to 53/47 for the V8). Notably missing from our track test, however, was a BMW 5-series. While the Hyundai handles well, it still has a long way to go to catch the BMW. I’ve also recently driven the 2009 Acura TL, and it feels lighter and more nimble than the new Genesis as well.

In both Genesis models, the steering is direct but not overly quick. The 4.6L model has electrohydraulic steering, while the 3.8L is only hydraulic. A trip through a slalom revealed that the hydraulic steering can’t keep up with several quick changes of direction, resulting in some binding. The 4.6L model’s steering, on the other hand, had not trouble with the cones, making it the better car in this type of environment even though it’s heavier.

If you push the Genesis too far, there are plenty of electronic safety nets to keep you on course, including antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control. Other standard safety features include front and rear side airbags, curtain side airbags, and electronic active front head restraints.

2009 Hyundai GenesisStyling

Hyundai has historically taken its styling cues from other manufacturers, and the Genesis is no exception. The car looks like the offspring of a BMW 5-series and a Mercedes-Benz E Class. The front grille has a definite Mercedes flair, but instead of rounded headlights, it’s flanked by more modern eye-slit headlights. Fog lights are standard on the lower fascia, which also features a large lower air intake. Halogen headlights are standard, and the Technology Package includes auto-leveling high-intensity discharge adaptive headlights that point into turns to improve night-time vision on dark corners.

From the side, the Genesis is reminiscent of a BMW 5-series, though with softer lines (though still sharper than those of the E Class). The greenhouse is practically identical to that of the 5-series, right down to the dogleg shape of the rear pillars. Attractive 17-inch wheels fill the wheelwells, and the available 18s provide a sportier, meaner look.

Take a peek from the rear, and you’ll notice a high trunk line similar to the BMW design that was so polarizing when it arrived on the BMW 7-series a few years ago. Dual exhaust is also visible from the rear, hinting at the Genesis’s sport sedan intentions.

Hyundai says the overall design is “athletic, not so aggressive, assertive, but not polarizing.” I agree, but I’d like to see more passion in the design. I don’t think the Genesis will attract many customers on design alone (though the upcoming Genesis coupe might).

Value

The Genesis 3.8L model ($32,250) is well equipped, with such features as leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, XM® Satellite Radio, iPod interface, Bluetooth® wireless cell phone link, and P225/55R17 tires on alloy wheels. Available features include leather dash and door trim, navigation system, 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with 7.1 surround, HD radio, 40-gigabyte hard drive, a rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels.

The 4.6L model ($37,250) is even better equipped, with power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, leather dash and door trim, Lexicon 15-speaker audio system with 6-disc CD changer, power rear sunshade, and P235/50R18 tires.

Both Genesis models are fine values that deliver good handling, a smooth ride, and willing power. They also have attractive interiors with plenty of room. Though not quite up to the high interior and handling standards of the European and Japanese luxury cars the Genesis aspires to, it is viable and cheaper alternative to those cars and a better appointed option versus large American sedans.

Who should buy it

The Genesis will be a fine choice for families with one or two kids or businessmen who tote clients around on a regular basis. If you need to haul a lot of cargo, the lack of a folding rear seat is a definite strike against this car, though the Genesis does have a fairly big trunk. The question is, can Hyundai get people to spend $33-42K on a car that lacks the cache of brands the Genesis aims to compete with?

2009 Hyundai Genesis

Conclusion

The Genesis is a viable move upmarket for Hyundai. It is packed with features, and is surprisingly capable as a sport sedan. Both engines provide plenty of power, and the new Tau V8 makes the Genesis genuinely quick. The ride is comfortable though somewhat bouncy. Inside, the Genesis is nicely appointed and there is plenty of room. I would prefer a lower seating position, though, and the lack of steering wheel paddles is a bit odd for a car with the Genesis’s sporty intentions. The lack of a folding rear seat is also a negative, though I respect the fact that Hyundai opted against it for handling reasons. In the final analysis, the Genesis is a viable choice that fits between established luxury brands and the less expensive but also capable Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4.5

4.5

4.5

4.5

3.5

4.0

4.25

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