Wheels Editor Glenn Butler gets unexpected attention over a serene but high-mileage first few weeks in the most luxurious of Hyundais.
First published in the October 2015 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
THREE weeks in and I’m paranoid. People really are watching me.
I loaned my new Hyundai Genesis long-termer to Damion for a few days, and the first thing he remarked on was how people stare as it glides by. We’ve both driven cars that attract attention, but they’re usually loud sports cars or Italian supercars. Not Hyundais. It’s never been Hyundais… until now.
So I’m not imagining things. The Genesis is a head-turner.
I don’t think it’s particularly alluring, though the styling is cohesive and premium, and the sedan’s stance is strong. Some COTY judges last year felt the Genesis could easily be mistaken for an Aston sedan. The grille does mimic the Rapide a little, and there’s that winged badge, but otherwise it’s a stretch in my eyes.
Perhaps the stares are because the Genesis is such a bold departure from Hyundai’s usual fare. But there’s no Hyundai badge up front, so how do the gawkers know it’s a Hyundai, and therefore that it’s unusual for a Hyundai? Further investigation required, of the vox pop nature. Stay tuned.
So far it’s been a serene and high-mileage first few weeks. The Genesis’s overall refinement is excellent. The cabin is quiet, the ride isolating, and the drivetrain’s effects are seen but not heard. The multi-adjustable electric seat is comfortable and, combined with reach and tilt steering adjustment, delivers the driving position I want.
I haven’t explored its dynamic limits yet, but already the benefits of Hyundai’s localisation program can be felt. The suspension absorbs sharp edges and bumps without feeling floaty or overly soft. Initial turn-in is impressive for a 5m car with a 3m wheelbase weighing almost two tonnes. There’s no overt sense that it’s leaning on the outside front or that bodyroll is softening its bite.
Getting started each day is not without its little quirks, though. Even after dozens of journeys, for the life of me I can’t remember whether to push or pull the park brake switch.
The big A-pillar and wing mirror can impede visibility at times, so shopping centre kerbs are a particular challenge (no, I haven’t clipped one yet), and suburban roads clogged with parked cars make you aware of the Genesis’s size. I don’t like start buttons hidden behind steering wheels, and the gear selector’s detent makes a plasticky clunk each time it moves out of Drive.
That gearlever clunk was quickly fixed by a Hyundai service rep, and though it seems such a little thing, it’s why prestige car companies spend millions on finessing haptic feedback.
I’ve not messed around with the drivetrain’s Eco mode, or its Sport alter-ego yet, which I suspect may help the slick eight-speed transmission make better use of its ratios.
I’m deliberately spending time getting familiar with the baseline first.
We started our days together during a Melbourne winter. This $60K base model wears 18-inch Hankook Ventus Primes – the top-level $80K Genesis gets 19-inch Dunlops – and they’re generally fine. But they do have a weakness when it comes to standing-start turns on wet roads.
The drivetrain has good initial pick-up, which I like. But turning at wet intersections can cause the inside rear to lose traction, which the ESC is commendably quick to clamp down on. It shows little finesse with its response, though, cutting drive completely until well after traction is restored. If you’re attempting to merge with traffic, this accelerative pause can feel like ages.
I’ve learned to be more judicious moving off in the wet, but I wasn’t exactly stomping the throttle before because I’m trying to get a good fuel figure, as 12.7L/100km for a month of commuting proves. Still, if it’s a choice between overzealous or inattentive ESC, I’d take the former.
Otherwise it’s been a serene first few weeks. Yep, serene. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my ability to tolerate the morning commute. Spending a few extra minutes in its quality confines is no hardship. Now, if I can just get the boss to approve a chauffeur, I’ll set about testing the back seat properly.
Social climber but still a value proposition
THE basic $60K Genesis we’re testing here has plenty of kit, proving that Hyundai’s move into the premium segment hasn’t meant abandoning its value-for-money brand maxim. The Lexicon sound system is a cracker, streaming my tunes with clarity via Bluetooth from my phone. Radar cruise control gets a regular workout, as do the front and rear parking sensors, though the front ones sometimes don’t pick up the single central bollard located outside my favourite coffee stop.
Other driver assist systems include lane departure warning and auto emergency braking, which thankfully I haven’t had cause to trigger yet. Puddle lights that include the Genesis logo (far left) are a nice touch. And the Smart Boot, which opens when it senses a person waiting behind it with the key, is clever, and much better than having to wave your foot wildly under the bumper like some other systems.
Read part 2 of our Hyundai Genesis long-term car review.
Price as tested: $60,000
Part 1: 1553km @ 12.7L/100km
Overall: 1553km @ 12.7L/100km
Date acquired: June 2015
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!