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What’s this, then?
This is Hyundai’s flagship, its ultimate. The Genesis is billed as everything the South Korean giant has learned about building competitive, desirable cars, squeezed into a behemoth of a sedan. The Genesis is just 2cm shorter than the BMW 7-Series, 10cm longer than a 5-Series saloon.
The cost? A not insubstantial £47,995. Yes, really. 2015 is the year of the £48k Hyundai.
Nearly fifty grand for a Hyundai?
Yes, the price is about as appealing as Marmite chewing gum, but, overseas at least, the Genesis isn’t the no-hoper you might assume it to be. This is the second-generation Genesis, its predecessor having been a smash hit in the US and China. Offering luxury saloon levels of space for executive saloon money - and ticking every optional toy and goodie box as standard - is its bold recipe for invading UK shores.
Don’t confuse this car with the rear-drove coupe Genesis that Hyundai offers in the US. The two’s similarities end at being rear-drive, V6-powered, and ambitious as hell.
Ambitious but rubbish?
Well, Hyundai certainly isn’t getting its hopes up about banking record numbers, forecasting UK sales in the tens rather than the hundreds. Why? That a thirsty petrol is the only engine option won’t help.
Nice though it is to have a non-turbo, 3.8-litre petrol V6 on sale in 2015, 75 per cent of big executive sales in the UK are swallowed by high-torque, low-CO2 diesels. The Genesis doesn’t even have an electric-afterthought hybrid system as a sop to hugging the trees that probably didn’t give up their veneer for the suspiciously glossy dashboard.
How thirsty is it?
Claimed economy is 25mpg - our test car slumped to 15mpg while bumbling through central London, but soared to, er, 22mpg on the motorway. Gaseous emissions are a relatively volcanic 261g/km of CO2. A BMW 535i is almost fifty per cent cleaner. It’s safe to say the Genesis is less likely to be your fleet manager’s next pool car than a Porsche 918 Spyder.
Does that hefty engine make it fast?
Dispel any notions this is a performance car, even with 311bhp and 293lb ft, and ignore the spritely 6.5 seconds 0-62mph time. A BMW 535i or Audi S6 would leave the Genesis for dead on any road you care to select. The Hyundai does make an awful fuss going about the business of accelerating.
That V6 is very vocal - not an unpleasant rasp, but neither one that should invade the cabin of a supposedly mature saloon quite so intrusively. The body is also prone to squatting heavily onto the rear axle on getaway, with the nose rising skyward like an overloaded yachting pleasure craft. In some respects, this isn’t really a disadvantage, as it forces you to re-hone your driving style like you’re taking some sort of chauffer test. Smoothly does it.
It’s a comfort barge, then?
Yep. The low-speed ride is what really betrays the Genesis as a product aimed at retiree Americans - it floats and porpoises around like a li-lo. So, on rubbish UK roads, it’s like riding a li-lo down white water rapids. The eight-speed automatic’s gearbox’s hesitation doesn’t help matters.
Above town speeds, everything’s much more settled and controlled. This is a nicely refined mile-muncher, especially when the active cruise control and lane-keep assist come into play. Obviously we wouldn’t recommend it, but if you set the radar cruise speed, then leave the car to sniff out the white lines on a quiet motorway itself, the Genesis can be completely, hands-free autonomous. Apparently.
Still, fifty large for a Hyundai…
You get a lot of kit, at least. The Genesis comes in one fully loaded specification in the UK, crammed with toys from the adaptive part-LED lights up front to the auto-open tailgate out back. It’ll self-park (though there are sensors and several cameras about the bodywork if you fancy taking over), you sit atop supremely comfy, Volvo-like heated-and-cooled electric leather chairs, while the truly cinematic stereo system will deafen passengers at will.
It’s worth mentioning that the build quality is as high as you’d hope too - tight shutlines, not a squeak nor rattle inside, and the critical ‘thunk’ from the closing doors is all spot on.
However, eye the low-rent-looking touchscreen and controls pinched from Hyundai superminis, and the sense of being blinded with toys to blinker your senses from that price and that badge returns.
Should I buy one?
In isolation, the Genesis is far from terrible, but you’d have to have looked at, sat in and driven literally none of its British or German (or American) rivals to choose it. In objective terms, there’s not a task at which beats any of its competition hands down. And even if it did, would you really lay down fifty grand on a Hyundai? Us neither. Not yet.
3778cc, V6, 311bhp, 293lb ft
0-62mph in 6.5secs, 149mph