Hyundai Genesis review

This is the Hyundai Genesis; a statement that on its own begs yet more questions, like a ‘what now?’ and ‘why would I?’

Driving the Hyundai Genesis

£47,000 Hyundai Genesis saloonDriving the Hyundai GenesisHyundai GenesisHyundai Genesis corneringHyundai Genesis dashboard

So, let’s take a step back to frame the Genesis. Assume for a moment you’ve got the best part of 50 grand in your pocket (or, more likely, £600 a month), and that you’re looking for an executive car.

Matt Prior

Hyundai Genesis infotainment systemHyundai Genesis interiorHyundai Genesis rearHyundai Genesis rear corneringHyundai Genesis rear quarter

You have the choice of the traditional executive players: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Lexus or Volvo, or perhaps Land Rover or Porsche if you fancy an SUV.

The 149mph Hyundai Genesis

The 149mph Hyundai GenesisThe 311bhp Hyundai GenesisHyundai Genesis alloy wheelsHyundai Genesis rear seats

You might be odd enough to think about an Infiniti, or heck, for less than £50,000 these days you could even buy a Maserati.

But just for a moment, let’s pretend too that you don’t care about carbon dioxide emissions, so a powerful diesel or a small turbo petrol engine are not necessarily for you. Nope, owning a saloon with a CO2 figure that’s north of a Ferrari California’s is just dandy.

Hyunda’s executive car is now in its second generation. It’ll reach the UK with a steering wheel on the correct side in April this year, priced from £47,995.

Hyundai won’t say how many it expects to sell. This always means the same thing: not very many. If you want one of these 4990mm long, 3.8-litre petrol engined cars in the UK, you will have to visit one of seven specially selected dealers. (If you end up routinely driving a Genesis, we suspect there’s a very good chance you’ll work at one of them.}

Geneses are being specifically tweaked for the UK market, which must rank as a fairly extraordinary outlay given the potential return.

Hyundai might not be serious about selling vast quantities of the Genesis in Europe, then, but it is utterly serious about what this car stands for. It’s meant to get you used to the idea that a Hyundai can have high levels of interior craftsmanship, so that you don’t have to stifle a giggle when you first spot there’s wood, aluminium and leather on display.

You’re meant to be similarly unsurprised, too, if your forthcoming Hyundai small family car borrows features from the Genesis, like lane-departure warning, a cabin CO2 monitor that detects when you’re tired (high carbon dioxide levels can make drivers feel sleepy), a system that warns of oncoming traffic when you’re reversing from a parking space, city braking, a head-up display, and so on. 

That, today, the showcase for these things is a five-metre saloon with a near four-litre V6 attached is by the by.

There’s more, too, though, and this bit is important: the Genesis is meant to tell you – and everyone within Hyundai – that chassis dynamics matter. The Genesis, like the Santa Fe and Veloster, is designed (the company freely admits) for the Far East and the US markets first, and then ‘adapted’ for Europe.

Sometimes, dynamically, Hyundai doesn’t adapt its cars well enough for Europe, it admits. Not this time, it says. The Genesis has one suspension set-up for its traditional markets; then there is another for mainland Europe; and a third for the UK. Lotus has completed much of the legwork for the Euro and UK spec cars, which is encouraging.

Unfortunately, the car you see here isn’t a UK tune, and nor is it the rear-drive variant that is the only one that’ll reach the UK. Packaging the steering wheel for the right means no 4wd system that’s standard through the rest of Europe, and is what you see here, but no matter. For the most part, it’ll tell us what we need to know.

It tells us that this is an interior better than Hyundai has ever before produced. Fit and finish is very good. The rooflining, particularly, is pleasingly soft. Materials are of a higher grade than you’ll find elsewhere in the European Hyundai range, but is it worthy of the sticker price? Different question, and I’d say not quite. The action of switches is fine: but the look and feel of the plastics isn’t quite up there.

The starter button’s nice, though, and if you thumb it this is a quiet motor at idle, becoming pleasingly audible with the gas pedal applied. The Genesis gets 3.0, 3.3 and 5.0-litre donkeys elsewhere in the world, all petrols, but this 3.8 was deemed best for introducing to Europe; simply because, I suspect, it’s the nicest of the four. There’s certainly no business case for a diesel. 

It drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which engages smoothly, but on part throttle it hesitates between upshifts a touch. I liked that – you can hear, but don’t really feel, the engine changing up. It adds a bit of zest.

Otherwise, zest is hard to come by. The ride’s smooth – there’s multi-link suspension front and rear, coil springs, and adaptive dampers with two modes of stiffness. Neither is firm. 

The steering’s light at low speed, and weights up artificially at higher speeds, and although at 2.5 turns lock-to-lock it’s brisk enough, it’s not particularly rewarding. Not enough, anyway, for a company that benchmarked the BMW 5-Series for dynamics (the A6 for its interior and elements of the E-class, too).

That said, it’s relaxing. I came away feeling that the Genesis is a bit like a Citroën C6, only more composed, less interesting, and more expensive.

Should you buy one, though? Lord no. What a world: where a Hyundai costs as much as a Maserati. The wood and size and shape and addition of technologies on smaller Hyundais I could get used to pretty quickly. The numbers might take me a while yet.

Price £47,000 (est); 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 25.2mpg; CO2 261g/km; Kerb weight 1890kg; Engine V6, 3778cc, petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, RWD; Power 311bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 293lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic