Genesis, Hyundai, Road Test Reviews, Vehicles

2010 Hyundai Genesis 3.8L Premium – Road Test

Last week we had the opportunity to drive the amazing Genesis Coupe V-6 GT. This week we drive the 4-door version – same engine, but an automatic instead of a manual transmission. So is this a 4-door on steroids or a completely different car altogether?

Surprisingly, there seems to be no correlation between the two vehicles – apart from sharing an engine and the name, you’d think these cars weren’t even related.

First Impressions

The Genesis sedan was voted The North American and Canadian Car of the Year in 2009 by just about every magazine and automotive TV show. This year it adds a couple of new options/standard features such as Smart Cruise Control, touch-screen navigation and an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold to make it even more desirable for 2010 and beyond. (Smart Cruise Control automatically manages the Genesis’ speed through the braking and throttle systems to maintain a pre-set following distance set by the driver.

The automatic vehicle hold feature eliminates the need to keep the brake pedal depressed in situations such as stop-and-go traffic. It also prevents the Genesis from rolling backwards when parked or stopped at a traffic light on a hill.)

Hyundai have targeted a number of high-end vehicles with the Genesis, among them are the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M and Lexus GS – heady company indeed! Breaking with tradition Hyundai have also opted for rear-wheel drive for the first time in North America, and managed to give the Genesis a near ideal 52/48 front-to-rear weight distribution for exceptional handling and more refined steering characteristics.

Using the aforementioned vehicles as targets, the Genesis has matched them, and in many cases beat them in horsepower and torque specifications, while completely blowing them all away in the horsepower-per-litre category. For interior and exterior sizes the BMW 5 series came closest in the height and wheelbase – the rest were pale in comparison.

The use of high tensile steel in critical areas in the unibody provides the Genesis with 12 to14 percent higher dynamic torsional rigidity and a lower body structure weight than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class – despite having a substantially larger cabin than either of them – and in fact comes away with more interior volume than either the Lexus LS 460 or BMW 750i – two much larger cars.

A V-8 and a V-6 engine is offered in the Genesis. The test vehicle had the 3.8-litre DOHC V-6 engine (with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on intake and exhaust camshafts) and a new Variable Intake System (VIS) that helps cylinders breathe efficiently at low and high RPM. The better-breathing results in outstanding off-the-line acceleration and passing performance along with remarkable fuel efficiency – I can attest to that – this Genesis excels when punching the throttle off the line (even squawking the tires) and the all-important 50 – 120 km/h passing maneuver is instant – leaving the road snails in my wake, which is how I had my fun all week long.

The 3.8 V-6 engine has more than enough power, delivering 216 Kw and 358 Nm (290 hp /264 lb-ft) of torque through a silky-smooth Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, which drivers can access by moving the gear selector into a separate gate. Pushing the selector forward or pulling it rearward will then shift the transmission up or down sequentially. I tried using the Shiftronic feature, but the transmissions shift points are so ideal – and the kick-down so instantaneous – it just wasn’t worth bothering with.

When driving with spirit, the transmission held its gears almost to the red line before up-shifting. When being more leisurely, the shifts came quickly – up shifting three times before even getting to 40 km/h – obviously the shift points were chosen to maximize fuel economy.

The Genesis doesn’t pretend to be a sports sedan, but it does a great job of imitating one. It was surprisingly agile through some tight twisty bends and corners, but on the motorway or around town it is quite the opposite – with a very supple and luxurious ride.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel is power-adjustable for rake and reach – after a couple of days, the thing had a brain-fart and only worked some of the time. Unfortunately, when you switch the engine off, the steering wheel tilts up and out of the way, but wouldn’t return when I re-started the car, so I had to drive around like one of those old guys behind the wheel of a Cadillac – or a bus driver! Sometimes it would start working and I could get comfortable again. The electric steering is connected to the memory buttons, but it continued to have a mind of its own.

There’s a handy 2-person memory button on the driver’s door which incorporates settings for the outside rear-view mirrors, seat and the steering wheel. Speaking of outside mirrors, both my wife and myself felt they were too intrusive. I could never figure out whether it was the size or the placement, but they were always in the way – especially when making a left-turn from a side street onto another road – they’re so big, a car or motorbike could easily be missed.

The steering feel is very light, but not so light that there is no feeling of connection to the front wheels. I prefer to have a heavier-than-normal feel, but this car isn’t aimed at people like me, so it is probably perfect for its target market.  The same goes for the less than razor-sharp response too.

The 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support was extremely comfortable, but why the passenger gets stuck with a 4-way power-adjustable seat WITHOUT lumbar support just boggles the mind. When will manufacturers get it into their heads that when the wee woman is comfortable, I get peace and quiet?! Seriously – why is the passenger always neglected in just about every car – regardless of the price?

Rear seat accommodation is extremely generous, with an abundance of leg, knee and headroom. The seats are nicely sculpted and angled to hold the rear passengers in place when the driver decides to play Michael Schumacher down the back roads. The back seat is ideal for two passengers, but less so for a third because of the large tunnel that runs front to back – an unfortunate trait of rear-wheel drive cars. Although the rear seatback doesn’t fold, there is a pass-through for longer items such as skis and the like.

The boot or trunk is large (450 litres) and perfectly square, offering plenty of storage for luggage. (One thing of note is that I opened the trunk lid during a rainstorm and plenty of water poured right inside, covering everything along the inside edge!) The glove box on the other hand is completely useless – with the thick owner’s manual in there, there is no room left for even the thinnest of gloves!

When we had the Genesis Coupe, my wife and I raved about the outstanding Navigation system. In the sedan, it was quite the opposite. Although it looked exactly the same, it didn’t interact as well and had odd limitations that the coupe’s didn’t -very peculiar.

It was so irritating I had to listen to my wife continually complain about it and compare it to last week’s system. It can be programmed while on the go – very few Sat-Nav systems are that helpful – but it wouldn’t let us jump back up one spot/entry, so the entire destination (or a new one) had to be re-programmed into the system to stop it from continuing on the previous destination (perhaps there was just something in the settings that was wrong but we never figured it out).

Another big problem is that the screen is actually tilted up towards the moonroof. From the passenger or driver’s seat, the screen is easily washed out, or the LCD icons disappear. Hopefully Hyundai resolve this by making it tiltable or just place it at a better angle in the future.

Backing in or out of tight spaces is much easier with the backup camera that uses the navigation display screen to show the driver a clear view immediately behind the car. In the past I always thought this was just a gimmick in cars – extremely useful in SUV’s, but I found myself using it all the time when reversing into parking spots.
The Genesis’ audio system is quite unique in that the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Hyundai Genesis are the only automobiles to offer a Lexicon-branded state-of-the-art audio system featuring LOGIC 7® technology. The Lexicon® surround-sound audio system includes a 12-channel digital amplifier and 17 speakers producing 528 watts of sound in 7.1 discrete audio.

The Genesis is also the first popular brand to offer digital HD Radio technology from the factory.  Navigation-equipped models also include a 40-gigabyte hard drive and all models come standard with XM Satellite Radio, an iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks allowing drivers to control and charge MP3 players/iPods directly from the head unit. The sound was very good, but we both felt the system in the coupe was just a bit better.

Continuing along the Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus comparison, the Genesis’ safety features are impressive. With a total of eight airbags (dual front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for both front and rear outboard seat occupants), it also includes an electronic active head restraint system as standard equipment.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, electronic active head restraints have been proven to help prevent whiplash and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded five-star crash test ratings to the Hyundai Genesis, for both frontal and side-impact crash tests (the highest government rankings under the agency’s New Car Assessment Program).

Additionally, Genesis has a total of eight ultrasonic sensors located on the front and rear bumpers. The sensors, along with the rear backup camera, help detect how close objects are when parking. The distance is indicated on the in-dash screen and accompanied by an audible warning tone.

The Genesis 3.8 comes with an abundance of luxury and safety features. Among them are: ABS – 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS); Advanced front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags; Electronic active front head restraints; Front Windshield Wiper De-icer; Automatic headlights; 17-inch alloy wheels; Dual power heated body-colored side mirrors with turn signal indicators; Leather power Heated front seats (cooling seats are available in other models); Integrated Memory System for driver’s seat, steering wheel and mirrors; Power tilt/slide sunroof with sunshade; Electroluminescent cluster; Proximity entry with electric push-button start; Dual front automatic HVAC; Interior EC mirror with Homelink + compass; AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM with iPod/USB & Aux input jacks; Bluetooth hands-free phone system; Trip Computer (with Range, Avg. Fuel Consumption, Avg. Speed, Elapse Time).

The Premium Package adds…HID and auto-leveling headlamps; 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation system; 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/50R18 tires; Power tilt & telescopic steering column with memory; Front and rear parking assist sensors; Rear backup warning camera; Lexicon 14-speaker surround-sound audio, 6-disc CD-changer; Rain-sensing wipers with auto defogger windshield

The Conclusion
After my wife got to drive the car, the first thing out of her mouth was – “It’s an old man’s car!” I have to agree somewhat – it’s definitely not the type of car I’d buy, but having said that – the Genesis is a wonderful luxury car that does just about everything right. It’s surprisingly nimble when you throw it into bends yet it coddles you during long drives on the motorway, and stomping on the go pedal brings the speeds up well past illegal in a split-second.

It’s not as sporty as a 5-series BMW, but it’s definitely Lexus smooth and quiet – but cheaper by many thousands of dollars. In 2009 Hyundai’s resale value was the highest of all manufacturers in North America – exceeding Mercedes-Benz – so people are getting the message that Hyundai is building quality and reliable cars.

When I was picking up the Genesis at Hyundai’s HQ in Toronto, I got to see the all-new flagship vehicle – the Equus, and let’s just say that the Lexus LS 450/BMW 7 Series/ Mercedes S-Class are clearly the target vehicles. They should be scared – very scared!

Plenty of power
Comfortable seat
Takes regular fuel – and sips it too!
Great price/features

Less than ideal Sat-Nav system
Outside mirrors were very irritating

Immediate Competition:
BMW 5 Series, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus Limited, Lexus ES and GS, Infiniti M, Mercedes E-Class

By The Numbers…
Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.
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Powertrain:                     3.8L Dual CVVT DOHC V-6 Engine; 6-speed manual transmission; RWD
Horsepower (Kw):     290 (216) @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (N.m.):         264 (358) @ 4,500 rpm
0-100 kph:         6.4 seconds

Curb Weight:         1,739 – 1,837 kg (3,826 – 4,041 lbs)
Wheelbase:                     2,935mm
Cargo Capacity:     450 litres

Fuel Consumption: 87 Octane
City: 11.4 L/100 kms  //  Highway: 7.2 L/100 kms
I averaged 9.1 L/100 kms on one tank and 10.0 L/100 kms on another tank – during aggressive, but mostly highway driving.

Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland

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