By Derek Price
Hyundai has spent the past few years trying to prove it can build cars that are equal to anything else in the world.
Now it’s taking things to the next level by trying to build cars that are actually a step beyond anything else in the world.
That’s the impression I get after spending a week driving the 2015 Genesis, Hyundai’s next-generation premium sports sedan that throws down the gauntlet for Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.
This is a car that doesn’t just say, “I can hang in that category, too.” It’s saying, “Anything you can do, I can do better,” and it’s got the stats to prove it.
At 123 cubic feet, it has more interior volume than the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS and Infiniti M. Same thing with its standard 311-horsepower V6 that outmuscles all of the above and its 420-horsepower V8 that either matches or beats the V8-powered versions of its pricey competitors.
This new Genesis does more than win the battle on paper, though. It also does a great job with the driving feel, the styling and the overall air it carries — those intangible, subjective things that are so hard for most cars to get right.
From the driver’s seat, this is clearly a sporty luxury car with a firm suspension and lots of feedback through the steering wheel and seat, unlike its more traditional big brother, the smooth-riding Equus.
Still, Hyundai does a great job smoothing off all its edges to keep it from feeling too rough. It’s immensely enjoyable in corners without being overly harsh or loud over the road, pulling off the same kind of delicate balancing act between comfort and sportiness that BMW has perfected over the years.
And in terms of cabin refinement, it’s as good as anything from Lexus or Mercedes.
The new Genesis has a feeling of authenticity on the inside that helps it carry the air of a true, high-end luxury car. The wood has a natural grain and matte finish, none of the shiny, plasticky, fake looking stuff that has plagued luxury cars for years. And the metal is real aluminum, not just gray colored plastic.
It feels legit, which is a rare and wonderful thing in today’s car world.
To my eyes, its styling isn’t quite the same home run that its cabin and performance are, but it comes close. Its side profile and rear end are pleasant but too generic for my taste — appearing a lot like any number of lookalike Japanese cars at first glance — but it shines up front with aggressive lines that draw attention to a bold grille that leans forward as if ready to pounce.
Technology is impressive, as it has to be in this class, with everything from a smartphone app to a voice-recognition search powered by Google. It’s a cutting-edge tech suite, easy to use at times, but also sophisticated enough that you could spend hours playing with all its little details.
While its luxury-brand competitors start in the neighborhood of $50,000, the new genesis is priced from $38,000. Yes, that makes it a bargain, but bargain pricing isn’t the reason you should consider buying it.
You should look closely at this car because it’s one of the best luxury sports sedans on the market, regardless of price.
And that’s entering new territory for the once-lowly Hyundai brand.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2015 Hyundai Genesis RWD 5.0 ($51,500). Options: Ultimate Package ($3,250). Price as tested (including $950 destination charge): $55,700
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Length: 196.5 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Engine: 5.0-liter V8 (420 horsepower, 383 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: 8-speed electronic automatic
Estimated Mileage: 23 highway, 15 city
2015 Hyundai Genesis
Why buy it?
It offers the comfort, space, amenities and premium feel of a name-brand luxury car. It also is priced considerably less than its competitors.