Eyebrows were raised when Hyundai announced it was launching the Hyundai Genesis in the UK.
Not just because the car is more of a statement than a serious contender in the executive sector, but the price tag – a cool £48,005.
Already on sale in America, the Genesis is being marketed as Hyundai’s flagship model here.
Only available in limited numbers via seven strategically placed Hyundai dealers, the Genesis is as much a statement as a rival to the big Audis and BMWs. In fact, if we’re talking rivals it probably can only be compared to other curiosities such as the Volkswagen Phaeton and Infiniti Q70.
I guess Hyundai is trying to achieve a change in brand perception, showing that is can build a large, luxurious, technologically advanced car. So the Genesis is a showcase and many of its features will filter down into future more everyday models.
And the list of tech items is impressive – everything from “the world’s first CO2 cabin sensor” (it monitors the quality of the air and helps to protect the driver from the danger of drowsiness), to Smart Cruise Control and Automatic Emergency Braking.
I got to drive one of the first Genesis cars in the UK and my favourite bit of tech is the heads-up display which projects essential info such as speed into the driver’s line of vision on the windscreen. It sounds obtrusive, but within minutes it becomes second mature and makes you much more aware of your speed than traditional dashboard dials.
Anyway, back to basics – at just under five metres long, the Genesis is a big, five-seat luxury saloon powered by a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine with a eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s no slouch either, on paper it’s capable of reaching 62mph in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 150mph.
Weirdly for a showcase Hyundai, there’s very little “Hyundai” there. The Genesis seems to almost be a standalone brand with its own winged badge, most obvious on the bonnet and steering wheel.
From the outside is’s certainly a looker, well proportioned and streamlined, it’s familiar yet unfamiliar.
Inside it’s extremely spacious with a quality feel – there’s even wood on the door cappings, for instance – just a shame it’s veneer.
Up front it’s extremely comfortable, whilst at the back the seats recline and there’s a huge centre armrest packed with buttons. Real executive stuff.
The Genesis range is refreshingly simple. There’s just the one model with a choice of seven colours.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a car specifically designed for the American market – and it shows on the road. The Genesis feels big and is more suited to wafting along highways, than energetic pedal-to-the-metal driving.
Sure, it’s smooth enough, but it wallows, and even with the drive mode set to Sport (there also Normal, Eco and Snow) it’s no BMW. Yes, the suspension stiffens, the gear changes are aggressive and the engine is more vocal, but it’s still built for comfort.
Not that you would want to push it too much because its only capable of a claimed 25.2mpg, which is probably nearer 20mpg in the real world.
Don’t get me wrong, the Genesis isn’t a bad car – just a little on the expensive side for a luxury executive express with high running costs and without an established premium badge.
So there you have it. If you have a large wad of cash to spend and you want to stand out from the crowd, then maybe the Genesis is for you…