Big Korean proves it’s made of the right stuff.
SAFETY is great, as long as it’s not inconvenient. My dog, for example, finds the in-car harness inconvenient to her desire to keep constant watch out both sides of the car. But if we had to stop suddenly, 24kg of airborne labrador-cross breaking my neck would inconvenience me. And since I’m the boss, I win.
The blind spot caused by the Genesis’s thick A-pillar and generous wing mirror is an inconvenience when turning right, and when parking. But if it had skinny A-pillars instead, I’d grumble a lot more should we find ourselves inverted in a crash, my head mashed down to my navel because the roof caved in. And I can only imagine how many parking bingles and lane-changing disasters could have befallen us if the Genesis had no wing mirrors.
Those two safety features are mildly inconvenient, but justifiable, and it’s not like I have options. It’s also not like the Genesis is alone in having an obstructive A-pillar. Volvo has even experimented with see-through A-pillars on concepts. Bring ’em on, I say. Until then, I’ll suffer the inconvenience to keep my head above my shoulders.
Love the auto-opening boot. Hate standing like an idiot behind other test cars that don’t have the function, waiting...
As for the rest of the Genesis, well, I’ve found it all incredibly convenient in our six months together. Almost to the point of transparency. This is a competent and well-sorted prestige sedan, with no real weaknesses beyond the drivetrain’s economy and sometimes lazy transmission. The Genesis is a great first offering from a sub-brand on the verge of its independence.
Hyundai could have grabbed more attention for Genesis if it had debuted groundbreaking technology or bold product innovation, but that could have undermined the ultimately solid foundation this comfortable, conservative and competent executive express has laid down for future Genesis models to build on.
In terms of styling, Hyundai did push the envelope, though thankfully Sydney-born Casey Hyun’s design team stopped short of going too far, like Lexus has. The car’s exterior design shows restraint and exudes elegance, though it does little to disguise the big sedan’s size. It continues to turn heads, six months into our life together and 18 months after it arrived in Australia.
Same story inside. The cabin is smart and functional, but without any conversation-piece gadgets or gizmos, like omnipotent iDrive controllers or the ability to read hand-waving gestures like in some BMWs. But it’s all eminently useful, especially the various cubbies and containers for phones, keys and the like.
To top it all off, the Genesis has been faultlessly reliable during our time together once a sticky transmission lever was quickly fixed. No mechanical glitches or electric gremlins, not even a software malfunction with its entertainment system or inconsistent Bluetooth comms (and I’ve often experienced those in more-expensive German cars).
No, the Hyundai Genesis sedan – soon to be renamed the Genesis G80 (without the Hyundai badge) – is now firmly entrenched in my mind as a beacon for even better things ahead.
In decades to come few may remember this honest origin of the Genesis species because, as I’ve said, it’s not remarkable in any particular area. Overall, though, it is remarkable. It’s proof that the once cut-price Korean brand can stretch into the premium domain dominated by the Germans and not look out of place.
Men for all reasons
Albert Biermann, Manfred Fitzgerald and Luc Donkerwolcke are a big part of why I’m excited about the future for Hyundai and its Genesis premium brand offshoot. Those three gentlemen have been poached from European prestige marques Audi, BMW and Lamborghini to design and engineer the cars tasked with catapulting Genesis into the big league of luxury and performance. Biermann in particular is an interesting acquisition, fresh from a stint as head of BMW M. For me, that’s a double-edged sword. BMW M has turned out many great driving cars, but in recent years its turbocharged offerings have lost their way a little. Guess we’ll have to wait and see which direction Hyundai’s newly created N Performance brand takes.
Read part 4 of our Hyundai Genesis long-term car review.
Price as tested: $60,000
Part 4: 1272km @ 11.1L/100km
Overall: 8561km @ 11.8L/100km
Date acquired: June 2015