Let me start of by saying, the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan is “Awesomesauce.” Refinement? Check. Quality? Check. Road noise? Hardly any. Technology? Plenty. Literally, all of the things when you think premium luxury, the new Genesis has it. So, let’s begin as I try to bring out some of the key highlights of the all-new 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan.
Genesis Design and Build Philosophically Changes
The biggest difference has more to do with the philosophy of how Hyundai built and designed the new Genesis than anything else. You can have the best parts in a car but, if they don’t work in harmony, you can have a vehicle that just doesn’t work well or has some serious flaws. Something that often happens in many companies is that the body engineers may not have cared what the chassis and suspension engineers were doing. So, when it came time for the suspension group to install their parts on the car, they didn’t quite fit and this may have led to compromises in suspension geometry. Simply put, the left hand wasn’t talking to the right hand. This is why it seemed like there was a huge disconnect between the engineering groups that put the first Genesis together. You could see and feel this in the previous Genesis.
The previous Genesis was good but lacked in ride quality compared to its competitors. Going over certain bumps on the road you could feel and hear the suspension components work against the body. You could at times feel the suspension “hit,” which made for an upsetting and uneasy feeling. Not really something you want in a premium vehicle. So, as mentioned, Hyundai decided to do something different philosophically. They had all of their internal and outside third party engineers, from body to chassis engineers, to interior and exterior, working together for the first time.
A Suspenseful Suspension No More
Suspension tuning garnered some of the most attention. According to Wendell Collins, Engineering Manager of Ride and Handling, they spent roughly 1.5 years on the suspension tuning. The key to making the suspension better was to have Hyundai engineers working as a team in all phases and, as mentioned, bringing in outside experts to help with the suspension and chassis tuning, especially in more aggressive driving conditions. To help with this part of the vehicle build Hyundai brought in none other than the UK’s, Lotus Engineering. According to Hyundai, there were several milestone marks and Lotus was brought in to give an unbiased viewpoint along the way. This was coupled with their years of knowledge and experience helping to improve and fix ride issues. They also made recommendations on suspension and chassis components, with much of the actual testing being done on the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife track in Germany. This testing focused on “high-limit tire and high-speed stability and suspensions evaluations.”
The result is the best handling car Hyundai has ever put out in this segment. Whether you are doing some in-town driving or the more frequent blasts to 100 MPH that I was doing, it was clear that this was a solid handling vehicle in any condition, something the previous car had trouble doing. It’s a comfy ride when you want it to be (the suspension quirkiness is gone), but for a guy like me who drives with a little more “spirit,” I always felt confident and safe in the car. The Genesis felt planted in abrupt cornering and braking maneuvers despite its heavy weight. The new steering system provided great response, not too light, not too heavy.
Briefly, some of the technology that made these leaps in ride improvement were only possible with some key things like using advanced high strength steel in more of the body, more than in any of the segment competitors. This, in turn, provided solid mounting points and made tuning the suspension easier because it was more predictable. Hyundai also ditched the hydraulic power steering unit replacing it with a Rack-Mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) system. This system provides better responsiveness but, can also vary driver input effort depending on the drive mode you are in and vehicle speed. In addition, the V8 RWD models features suspension components that will stiffen depending on the drive mode you are in by utilizing a Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system.
Safety Is Technology
In this first review I won’t be able to talk about all of the different tech features in the Genesis, but I did want to focus a little on the safety-related technology. One of the slicker safety features is how Hyundai has implemented their adaptive or Smart Cruise Control system (which uses radar) to work with the Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB). When you are below 50 MPH the Genesis will automatically brake for you all the way to a complete stop. (The system still works above 50 MPH but only to partially slow a vehicle.) As a test I set the Smart Cruise to 45 MPH and followed a car in stop-and-go traffic. The car never went faster than the car in front of me thanks to the Smart Cruise, and then braked to a complete stop when the car in front stopped. Not that I would recommend doing this, but it’s possible you could never have to touch the brake or accelerator under 50 MPH in stop-and-go traffic. How’s that for technology? One step closer to getting those fully autonomously driven vehicles!
Although not a first in a Hyundai, the Genesis now comes with a color Heads Up Display (HUD) and helps keep your eyes on the road. The HUD system contains most of the important driver functions such as speed, but also overlays navigation directions and lane departure prevention warnings through the Lane Keep Assist system (LKAS). Start veering off course and you’ll also get haptic feedback vibrations (think Sony PlayStation or Xbox game controller), in addition to the HUD display and audible warnings to remind you that you need to stay on course. Making lane changes gets a little safer with the Blind Spot Detection System (BSD). It also provides audible and visual alerts via the HUD when a vehicle is in your blind spot. This system is touted as a segment first.
Something that really impressed me though, is that Hyundai designed the new Genesis to pass the IIHS small overlap front crash test. Passing this test is not a government requirement but, if you’ve ever seen any of the crashes on YouTube, you would cringe at some of the potential deadly results. For me I wonder why the US government doesn’t test for this, because as much as 25% of frontal collisions are this type of accident. Watch those videos and you will be glad that Hyundai did not turn a blind-eye. If Hyundai is able to pass the IIHS small overlap front crash test, combined with their other safety features, Hyundai should be able to receive a IIHS Top Safety Plus pick, something that no other luxury manufacture in this segment has done. It makes you wonder why you would buy a less safe vehicle for more money.
Going Backwards to Go Forward
Back in the speed race for computer chips it was always about which chip, Intel or AMD, had the most speed in gigahertz. It seemed like every three to six months the competition would leap-frog each other. It wasn’t long before both camps realized that it was not always about how much power you had, but how you used that power, and then utilize and optimize that power efficiently. It’s no different with horsepower numbers on cars. Why sacrifice drivability just to make peak horsepower numbers and have a bad driving experience? You could easily give up some of that horsepower but gain a much smoother, easier and safer driving vehicle. Hyundai recognized this, which is why the new Genesis has been detuned in both engine variants. Combined with the 8-speed transmission, the engines provide a drivetrain platform that has very smooth power delivery, yet you don’t feel cheated in the power department.
Leisurely merge into traffic and the acceleration from both the V8 and V6 was tame and manageable. There was no sudden surge or over-acceleration and the throttle seemed easier to manipulate and was very predictable. If you wanted, you could still smash the go-juice and be given that surge of power, but even then it was still very manageable and pleasant. As a side note, if you are a power and speed freak like me, you could with the push of a button, disable the traction and stability controls and with a little throttle and brake manipulation, lay down nice long black tire marks with gratuitous amounts of tire smoke. Interestingly, despite the detuning, Hyundai still delivers power similar or better for the V6 and the V8 and easily keeps up with the competitors. No official ¼ mile numbers have been released, but they should be close, if not better than the previous generation.
Value Can Coexist With Premium
I hate to talk about value but the reality is the new redesigned Genesis sedan is a great value. Value does not mean cheap and it certainly can coexist with premium. There are too many things to list in this first review but I walk away from this car feeling like the Genesis is one of the best in the segment. When you add in value, it’s just the icing on the cake. You do not in any way sacrifice quality, and the refinement in the new Genesis is on par to its direct competitors. I was very impressed. You’ll love the Grammy Award winning Lexicon based sound system. The navigation system is top notch. The real wood, dash trim with real aluminum accents highlight a great interior. Most important to me though is you’ll find huge leaps in safety technology, and in some cases Hyundai is bringing in technology that are segment firsts. CO2 cabin monitors, designing for the IIHS small overlap front crash test, Blind Spot Detection, and then combining Rear Cross-Traffic Alerts and Lane Change Assist in one package. Safety first is what I always say and for me, as a parent and husband, I value this over any premium feature.
The new Genesis sedan should hit dealer lots sometime in the middle of the year. Be sure to check one out for yourself, you will be glad you did!