Second generation of the sedan marks Hyundai's foray into the premium segment
Genesis gets a luxe reboot The Hyundai Grand Genesis is a pleaser in terms of price tag, features and efficiency. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Get over it. Hyundai has left its nasty low-cost past far behind it. It has risen to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside the Japanese and Germans in the mass market segment, with creditable models such as the Elantra, Tucson and i40.

Now, it is ready to scale new heights - with the Genesis sedan.

The first Genesis it rolled out in 2008 was a Camry-like sedan that did not quite qualify for the luxe label. The second version looks the part.

On paper, its dimensions put it somewhere between the Mercedes-Benz E- and S-class models. But in the metal, it commands as regal a presence as the top Merc limo.

Design-wise, it looks a lot like the BMW 7-series (especially its side profile), with faint hints of Jaguar, Audi and Lexus in front and at the rear. It is a handsome sedan - sleek, dignified and purposeful.

And it is stacked with practically all the high-end features you can think of - especially the Grand variant tested here.

The long list includes adaptive cruise control (which drives the car at the desired speed while keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front), automatic parking, self-release electronic parking brakes, soft-closing doors, a motorised boot lid, front and rear cameras, a head-up display, all-digital instrumentation, ventilated seats, sensors that will ventilate the cabin if a high level of CO2 is detected and preemptive safety belts which increase tension if sensors detect an imminent impact.

Rear occupants have access to functions such as the hi-fi, air-conditioning and seat adjustments, including buttons that will move the front passenger seat farther away.

More importantly, the Genesis is underpinned by a respectable drivetrain. A 3.8-litre V6 sends more than 300 horsepower to the rear wheels via an eight- speed automatic gearbox, while a suspension system with electronic damping keeps road intrustions to a minimum and the car's 19-inch wheels in good contact with the surface.

All in all, it is an impressive package that ticks all the boxes of a luxury model: size, styling, amenities and power.

It even has its own emblem - one that resembles Bentley's winged logo. But do all that make it a luxury product?

Well, it depends on your point of reference. If the point resides with cars such as the Merc S-class, BMW 7-series and Audi A8, then the answer is no.

But it is in good company among models such as the Jaguar XF, Lexus ES, Merc E-class, Audi A6 and BMW 5-series.

In fact, the Korean flagship is slightly ahead of these contenders in terms of size, space and features.

Against the top-tier luxe liners, the Genesis - as accomplished as it is - loses out in terms of refinement, driveability and comfort. That is not to say the huge Hyundai is not refined, not driveable or uncomfortable. Just that at stratospheric heights, differences are measured microscopically.

At the helm, the Genesis certainly feels cushy enough - with seats, a steering wheel and a cockpit that will match those in many upmarket models.

But its thick A-pillars juxtaposed with fairly large wing mirrors mar visibility when one is making left turns.

While its suspension flattens uneven surfaces well, road noises intrude a tad more than you would expect.

A touch of wood on the steering and thicker floor mats might have raised its ambience by half a notch. After all, the car comes with servo-assisted doors that close noiselessly.

Its engine and transmission are very smooth, but they shine the brightest when unhurried.

In fact, the car feels a bit stodgy when you need to get from trot to gallop in an instant. So its declared 6.5-second sprint to 100kmh is best taken with a grain of salt. A turbocharger would definitely have lifted its low and mid ranges.

Elsewhere, the air-conditioning system needs to be a bit more powerful, especially on a hot day and especially when the car's CO2 sensors let in outside air ever so often.

Mind you, all these comments are in the context of standards you would not measure a mass market car by.

On that front, the Genesis' lack of a navigation system is rather glaring.

What is impressive, though, is its efficiency. The test car averaged 12.5 litres/100km - not far from its declared 11.2 figure and not bad at all for a car its size.

Taking all these into account, the Genesis is still an impressive entrant into the premium segment.

And if you consider its price tag, it becomes almost irresistable. On that score, it is good to know that some things don't change.

CAR INFORMATION

Hyundai Genesis 3.8 GLS Grand Sunroof (A)

Price

:$262,999

Engine Type

:

V6

Engine Cap

:

3,778 cc

Horsepower

:

311 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

397 Nm / 5,000 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

6.5 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

240 km/h