Genesis Lures Luxury Shoppers to Hyundai Showrooms

A CLASS ACT: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan has a shape reminiscent of a Jaguar, a front badge similar to an Aston-Martin, and a long list of premium features.
A CLASS ACT: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan has a shape reminiscent of a Jaguar, a front badge similar to an Aston-Martin, and a long list of premium features.
BILL GRIFFITH

Hyundai brought a quintet of its second-generation 2015 Genesis premium rear-wheel-drive sedans to town last week to give New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) members a preview of the redesigned model that is now arriving in dealer showrooms.

Brandon Ramirez, senior group manager for product planning, joined NEMPA members on drives through the Middleboro-Lakeville area.

While Hyundai was promoting its new model, the event also emphasized the spread of the latest technologies in new models in general. That will be the theme of the May 29 NEMPA/MIT conference that will examine the topic of engineering both safer cars and drivers.

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Hyundai hopes this second-gen Genesis continues along the route of its predecessor, which was named North American Car of the Year when it was introduced in 2009.

A Hyundai trademark is offering loads of content at a lower price point than the competition. In the premium market, that competition is formidable and includes the Lexus ES and GS, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Cadillac CTS.

Thus it’s not surprising that the company identifies its target buyer as looking for a combination of style and function that provides class above value to its owner.

This is the first time Hyundai is offering all-wheel-drive in a sedan. Known as HTRAC, it’s available in Genesis models with the 3.8-liter V-6. The V-6 model starts at $38,000 plus destination. The even more upscale V-8 version is rear-wheel-drive only and starts at $51,500, also plus destination. Both engines are mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission that has a unique “hold” feature that keeps the vehicle from “creeping” when stopped until the accelerator is depressed.

Drivers also can select four self-explanatory drive modes via a dial on the center console: Normal, Eco, Sport, and (gulp) Snow.

Among the safety and convenience features are a lane-keeping assist, blind-spot detection, carbon monoxide cabin sensor (to fight driver drowsiness), and a driver-programmable head’s-up display.

As part of the lane departure warning, the steering wheel vibrates (think going over a rumble strip) when a driver strays from his lane. Also, the Genesis has an automatic emergency braking system to avoid or mitigate crashes. It provides full braking at speeds up to 50 mph and partial braking at speeds over 50.

That system integrates the front-grille-mounted radar sensor and forward camera used in the smart cruise control and lane departure systems. Genesis models equipped with the feature became the first rear-wheel-drive luxury sedans to be named an Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+.

An “Intelligent Assistant” app for Smartphones enables the car to notify its owners that they might want to leave for work early because of traffic problems on their regular route or that they may want to use the remote start because it’s too hot (or cold) out and it would be wise to have the climate control working.

While BMW and Ford have introduced a “leg kick” recognition system for hands-free opening of trunks and liftgates, the new Genesis only requires you to stand behind the trunk for three seconds with the smart key in your pocket and the trunk will open after a warning beep and flash of the lights.

Hyundai is expanding its model lineup to include upscale vehicles such as the Genesis and Equus without creating separate brands and dealer networks the way competitors such as Toyota (Lexus), Honda (Acura), and Nissan (Infiniti) have done. Hyundai cites the benefit of having these “Halo” models in its lineup and significant cost savings, which are reflected in the Genesis pricing, by not having separate dealerships.

Hyundai calls its sedan-line styling, which started with the 2009 Sonata, Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. As it’s applied to the new Genesis, we think it has more than a passing resemblance to the new Jaguar XJ sedan. Others note that the Hyundai hood emblem resembles that of an Aston-Martin from a distance.

While Hyundai has been on a roll with product introductions over the past two years, the Genesis rollout is the first of three significant new vehicles for the company.

Next to come is the fuel cell-powered Tucson, which will make its first impact on the West Coast but will be closely watched worldwide for measuring the public’s acceptance of hydrogen power.

Also due out later this year is the 2015 Sonata which will only add to the already high competition level in mid-size sedan market segment.

The Genesis also will be the first vehicle in the Hyundai lineup to get Hyundai’s second-generation Blue Link system, which now collaborates with Google to add a destination search feature. New CEO David Zuchowski is a whiz at the system. Two years ago, he spent a half-hour demonstrating all the original system’s bells and whistles to several of us at the Chicago Auto Show.