Review: Hyundai Genesis

Some differences are explicable.

The Barina Spark and the Commodore both wear Holden badges, but one of them is pants, because it’s actually a Daewoo with a nice brooch.

Baz Luhrmann made Romeo + Juliet and Australia, and one of them is good, because it was written by Shakespeare.

What is far more difficult to explain is how two cars both made by Hyundai, and both badged Genesis, can be so utterly different.

We’ve just driven the Coupe – which will definitely be coming to Australia next year, albeit in next-generation form after a new Genesis is unveiled at Detroit in January – and the sedan, which is merely under consideration.

Frankly, it’s hard to believe the two cars – both on the same, rear-drive platform – were built in the same country, in the same decade, let alone by the same company.

Fortunately, they’ve chosen the good one to bring here.

The sedan is still something of a revelation for Hyundai. Imagine Suzuki building a big, V8-powered, rear-drive luxury car to get some idea of the shock value.

While plenty of cash has clearly been spent on developing the huffing, torquey 320kW, 510Nm 5.0-litre engine, significantly less has been spent on design.

Photocopying an E-Class Benz and tweaking it a bit can’t have taken too many hours.

The interior feels high-end for a Hyundai, and at least that awful, temporary-feeling volume toggle on the wheel is gone, but there are still some less pleasant plastics here.

Those impressive engine figures make for easy cruising and effortless overtaking but it’s not an exciting drive. There are no paddles to shift the eight-speed auto and, once you get into the tight stuff it becomes befuddled, failing to kick down.

More worrying is the lifelessly light steering, which gives a kind of Indian head wobble mid corner at times and generally provides less confidence than brown paper underwear. Our car also stepped sideways on us, loudly and disturbingly, with the mildest of provocations.

It was with low expectations that we approached the far more aggressive looking Coupe, therefore, and by comparison at least, we were blown away.

The 3.8-litre V6 makes a properly grungy, growly sports car noise, unlike anything you’ve ever heard from a Hyundai, and angrily throws you down the r

oad with its 260kW and 400Nm, hitting 100km/h in 6.1 seconds. The base model gets a 204kW/ 373Nm 2.0-litre turbo that’s a hoot as well, albeit with very old-school lag/boost/whoa! characteristics. Its 0-100km/h time of 7.1sec would make it an interesting competitor for the BRZ/86 pair.

Handling wise, it doesn’t feel quite in that league, but it’s a lot closer than you’d expect and the V6 in particular is serious fun on a good bit of road.

The steering is entirely different to the sedan and much the better for it; the only real letdowns are slightly grabby brakes and the seating position.

It’s a surprisingly great car, in short, and it could be a revelation for Hyundai, adding the kind of genuine sportiness and sleekness of design that, for me, the Veloster doesn't quite achieve.

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