Will Hyundai’s obvious value appeal to your emotion?

When you get beyond emotions, the car game is all about numbers. In this respect alone, the new 2009 Hyundai Genesis is a winner.

Pitched directly into the entry-level luxury segment against respected names like Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes, the Genesis is more powerful and fuel efficient, longer and wider, has a stiffer chassis, slipperier shape and costs thousands of dollars less. Hyundai quality, both initial and longer term as judged by J. D. Power and other industry studies, has become the equal of the best in the industry and better than most in this class. Helping the cause is a warranty that covers the longest period of time in the business. On a purely rational scale, the Genesis is a done deal.

But for many buyers, emotions play a major role in vehicle acquisition decisions, from the looks, content, driving dynamics and in this class, image. The latteris the reason Hyundai is entering the luxury arena. It wants the world to know that it is building vehicles that stand up to comparison with anything on the market. It might take a while before luxury-car owners put Hyundai stores on their buying tour, after all these are people willing to pay a hefty premium for a brand and an image. But it shouldn’t take long for people wanting to move up to a luxury car to catch on that this is a screaming bargain.

The styling is somewhat familiar. Each time you look atthe Genesis from a different angle you see a reminder of another luxury car, whether it be a Mercedes, BMW or a Lexus. The lines are all there someplace. To continue that effect, there is no identification on the front of Genesis. There’s no logo, badge or name. You have to walk around to the back to learn of its genetics. The overall look is one of conservatism, which is something owners in this class apparently look for.

The interior on the other hand is a stand out. Stunning in looks and execution, it is a distinct departure, well furnished and finished as expected in this class. There is plenty of legroom front and rear and there’s a massive trunk. In addition to eight airbags, the Genesis comes with electronic head restraints to reduce the risk of whiplash. The instruments and controls are large, legible and well positioned.

The Genesis is based on a brand new rear-drive platform specifically designed for this vehicle. The next to share these underpinnings will be a two-door version coming along in a few months. The four-door model comes in V6 and V8 formats. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leather interior, automatic climate control, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio system with iPod and USB inputs. The V8 adds 18-inch wheels, power moon roof, park assist, a special two-tone leather that’s slathered on both the instrument panel top and door panels where you can both see and feel the incredibly soft finish. The option list is peppered with neat stuff like an amazing 17-speaker audio system, navigation system, back-up camera, power rear sunshade, high-intensity-discharge adaptive headlights and a cooled driver seat.

The 3.8-liter V6 is the same silky smooth and quiet engine found in other Hyundai products. It comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and stands up well in comparison with other six-cylinder powerplants in the field.

The optional V8 is a source of great pride for Hyundai. The all-aluminum DOHC unit is as refined as they come and propels this big sedan to 60 mph in less than six seconds, which is pretty stout by any comparison. It, too, comes with a six-speed automatic, in this case the same ZF unit supplied to BMW. Hyundai suggests the use of premium fuel with the V8, but says that you lose only seven horsepower should you opt for the less-expensive propellant.

The Genesis offers the luxury, performance and features of the more expensive and established brands. If you’re not prepared to pay a hefty premium for a logo, buy a Genesis, a second new daily-use car and treat yourself to a Caribbean vacation… for the same outlay.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.