Driving Impressions

By July 8, 2008

Hyundai says it benchmarked the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Lexus GS when developing the Genesis. Advanced five-link front and rear suspensions and a rigid rear-drive unibody structure give the Genesis the engineering to compete with those cars. But this is Hyundai's first sport sedan, so is it possible that the Genesis is a match for such lofty competition?

Hyundai gave journalists the opportunity to drive the Genesis on both twisty two-lane California roads and on a road course to test the handling. They were even kind enough to provide a Mercedes-Benz E Class for comparison. The Genesis proved to be a capable handler, a viable match for the Mercedes. By comparison, the Genesis feels a bit more numb and doesn't have as much steering feel, but it stays flatter through turns.

The Genesis 3.8 V6 is lighter and has a 52/48 weight balance (compared to 53/47 for the 4.6 V8), making it easier to rotate through high-speed corners than the Genesis 4.6 or the Mercedes.

That's all pretty darn good news, but the Genesis lacks the balance, agility, and direct steering of the BMW 5 Series. Hyundai shouldn't be ashamed, though. BMW builds the finest handling sport sedans in the world.

The Genesis is equipped with Amplitude Selective Dampers, which are basically two shocks in one. These multi-vein shocks have one mode for small, high-frequency bumps and ripples and another mode for the larger motions shocks usually deal with. Hyundai says they improve ride comfort, optimize road surface contact, and increase body and wheel control. On the road, they help the Genesis provide a smooth, quiet ride. We detected no float or wallow, though we did find that the ride got too bouncy over humps and ruts at highway speeds.

Steering is direct but not overly quick. The 4.6 model has electrohydraulic steering, while the 3.8 is hydraulic. A few turns through a slalom revealed that the hydraulic steering can't keep up with quick changes of direction, resulting in some binding, a phenomenon we've observed in many fine automobiles. The 4.6 model had no such issue, so it was better in the slalom despite the 3.8 model's better overall balance. (You do run your car through slaloms, don't you?)

The Genesis 3.8 model is powered by Hyundai's Lambda 3.8-liter DOHC V6, which produces 290 hp at 6200 rpm and 264 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm. The V6 is EPA-rated City/Highway at 18/27 mpg.

On the road, we found that the V6 had plenty of zip for most every need. Hyundai quotes a 6.2-second 0-60 mph time, but it didn't feel that quick so we tried an unofficial 0-60 mph run and found that the time was more like 7.5 seconds. That's still pretty fast and competitive with most other cars in the class, but not as spritely as we were told. No worries, though, because the Genesis gets up to speed quickly and highway passing is a breeze.

The V8 model offers Hyundai's new Tau 4.6-liter DOHC V8. This engine has continuously variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust, and also comes with a Variable Intake System designed to allow the engine to breathe more efficiently at both low and high speeds. The result is 375 hp at 6500 rpm and 333 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 rpm with premium fuel. Save some cash and choose regular fuel and those numbers drop slightly to 368 hp and 324 lb.-ft. of torque.

The V8 is substantially quicker than the V6. It has plenty of power from a stop, in the midrange, and at highway speeds for passing. Hyundai quotes a 5.7-second 0-60 mph time, and we believe it. The V8 is EPA-rated at 17/25 mpg City/Highway, which isn't much of a fuel economy penalty given the extra power.

Each engine is mated to a different six-speed automatic transmission. Both are responsive, shifting quickly and smoothly. Both also have Hyundai's Shiftronic manual shift gate. However, it does not have shift paddles on the steering wheel.