Hyundai Genesis review

Our Rating: 
2014 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Genesis is packed with hi-tech kit and is decent quality, but it won't worry its German rivals

Loaded with kit and plenty of space
Wrong badge and wrong engine

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The Genesis has been Hyundai’s flagship model since its debut in 2008, but it’s never been available in Europe or the UK. However, that’s all set to change as the all-new second-generation car arrives.

Like its predecessor, the newcomer is an imposing four-door saloon that’s targeting the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus GS.

Best executive cars

There’s only one version, which is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic, with Hyundai saying they will sell just a handful of cars each year. The lack of diesel powertrain means the appeal of the Genesis will be limited in the UK.

But if a big V6-powered petrol luxo-barge is the kind of thing you're after and you value comfort and refinement over a sporty drive, then the Genesis could well surprise you. It's spacious and absolutely loaded with kit, which all go some way to compensate for what initially looks like a steep £47,995 price.

Our pick: 3.8 V6

Engines, performance and drive


Hyundai has clearly worked hard on the Genesis’ refinement, as it’s a quiet place to be a lot of the time. The 3.8-litre V6 is whisper-hushed at idle and only becomes intrusive when worked hard, while there’s also very little wind and road noise. 

The standard air-suspension also does a fair job of soaking up bumps, floating over rough surfaces that would cause some rivals such as the Lexus GS to fidget. However, hit a ridge or a pothole, and an uncomfortable thump is sent shuddering through the cabin. This soft suspension set-up also has an impact on the Genesis’ handling.

Even with the dampers in their stiffest setting – drivers can choose between Sport and Normal – the Hyundai rolls through corners, while body movement isn’t that tightly controlled. It also has a confidence-sapping tendency to roll into oversteer under high cornering loads.

Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 rear

The electronically assisted steering doesn’t boost confidence, either; although it’s direct, it lacks feedback. Plus, it suffers from a sticky and imprecise action in the straight ahead position, which forces the driver to make lots of small corrections to keep the car in your chosen lane on motorways. As a result, the Genesis isn’t as relaxing over long distances as you’d expect.

The 3.8-litre V6 also feels out of place in a luxury executive saloon. The petrol unit is refined enough, but it lacks the effortless low-speed response you’d expect in this type of car. 

Below 4,500rpm, acceleration is a little sluggish and isn’t helped by the slightly clunky and occasionally hesitant eight-speed auto box. However, work the powerplant hard, and the Genesis performs strongly. The sporty, snarling soundtrack is slightly at odds with the car’s executive image, but it's a sprightly performer when you put your foot down from a standstill.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


Spending £47,995 on a car is a lot, let alone for a Hyundai with no track record in such an image-obsessed class. And while the Genesis feels better built and more upmarket than any of the brand’s other models, it’s not special enough to justify such a hefty price tag. Plus, it’s pretty expensive to run.

CO2 emissions of 261g/km result in large Benefit in Kind bills for business users, while private buyers have to cough up £500 annually for tax. The 3.8-litre engine is also very thirsty. 

While our experts haven’t yet calculated residual figures for the Genesis, it’s unlikely to perform well. On the plus side, the car comes with a free five-year servicing package.

Interior, design and technology


If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Germany’s big three will have been paid a great compliment by the styling of the Genesis. For instance, the Hyundai’s front grille and headlamps can be seen as a mish-mash of Mercedes S-Class and Audi, and the rakish profile is pure Audi A7. While it’s not the most imaginative design, the Genesis is handsome and well proportioned, plus it’s long and wide, so it looks quite imposing.

The copycat theme continues inside, where you’ll find a dashboard that bears more than a passing resemblance to the BMW 5 Series’. There’s also a centrally mounted infotainment screen and white-ringed dials, plus an almost identical centre console layout. Still, there are one or two flourishes that help the Hyundai stand out, including the neat, metal-finish starter button and the classy analogue clock.

Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 wheel

The quality is good, too. It can’t quite match the best executive cars for upmarket appeal, but the Genesis’ fit and finish is the best yet for any Hyundai. The plastics are all soft touch, the wood trim has a deep gloss finish and the stitching on the leather is neat and consistent. 

There’s plenty of kit, including soft-close doors, a reclining rear seat with footrest, a head-up display and a surround-view parking camera system. There’s also a powerful, 14-speaker Lexicon stereo set-up, a panoramic glass roof and heated and ventilated seats front and rear. In fact, it comes so well equipped that there are no optional extras. 

It’s not perfect, though. While the cabin is well finished by Hyundai’s standards, there are too many buttons and switches carried over from the brand’s more humble models.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Genesis is a big car – at nearly five metres long, it rivals luxury limousines’ dimensions. As a result, it feels slightly more spacious than its main rivals, with rear seat passengers getting more leg and shoulder room.

The rear bench has a 60:40 powered reclining function, while passengers sitting on the left can remotely operate the front passenger seat to create even more legroom.

Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 interior

The only negative is that the standard panoramic glass roof eats into headroom, so even those under six foot tall will be brushing the roof lining.

The Hyundai has a powered tailgate, which opens to reveal a 493-litre boot; yet there’s no split/fold arrangement or a ski-hatch for longer items. Storage in the cabin is good, with a large cubby between the front seats, a useful glovebox and numerous cup-holders.

Reliability and Safety


Hyundai can’t match the like of Lexus for a strong reputation for reliability and quality, but the brand finished our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey in a respectable 18th place. Plus, the Genesis represents a big step forward in terms of fit and finish, which helps create a strong impression of durability. And while much of the Hyundai’s underpinnings are new to UK buyers, they’ve been tried and tested in other models across the globe.

One area that shouldn’t be a cause for concern is safety. The Genesis comes packed with features, including seven airbags, stability control, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist – although the latter intervenes quite aggressively, which can be unnerving.

Disqus - noscript

Blatant Audi copy!

Boring then.

So let's see, the Genesis has imposing looks, good performance, marvellous refinement and comfort, excellent ride quality, superb fit and finish, a bewildering array of high tech safety features all backed up by an excellent five year warranty.

To award it only 3 stars because of the type of fuel it runs on, the slightly bland handling and the 'wrong' badge is as cynical and biased as you can get.

Come on AE we want to see a proper review of the car not just some inane drivel you'd expect from a typical pub junkie.

Hyundai did the hexagonal grill 1st.

Well, AE also gave the CTS and GS 3 stars due to those factors - which I agree, shouldn't be weighed nearly as much.

AE say the interior is a bit bland. heavens forbid if thats bland then BMW is 10/10 boringly bland Audi,s might be slightly better and all the talk of build quality HU to that . two freinds both with latest Audi,s both got trim especially dashboard related problems . Build quality yer right both of them feed up

Typically Korean - take an Audi grille, a mercs headlights, a bmws rear and mix a bit of lexus in there too, and there you have it, the Hyundai Bitzer. If it's anything like the Sonata, it will depreciate faster than a signed photo of jimmy saville.

Spot on totally agree, and as for bland interior, has anyone in AE looked inside a BMW or AUDI stop with the German quality when it no longer exists, it's boring with the magazines always bad mouthing the competitors who have moved on so much more, and as for badge snobbery people please its pathetic.

Have Hyundai/Kia ever sold a class leading car? I can't think of a single one! They don't even have the reliability of the Japanese marques. They are unbelievably bland and soulless and yet they are expecting mug customers to pay as much, if not more, for them compared to much more competent alternatives.

So being very fuel thirsty (with high CO2 emissions) yet not particularly fast and having 'bland handling' are not good reasons to mark it down? Three stars seems very generous!

The qualities you list are also rather subjective. It looks like an Audi but in a bad way. For £50k its performance is laughable. It's ride quality is not particularly good, from what I've seen, and I doubt that its refinement and comfort will be as good as its European competitors, or Lexus. A five year warranty simply cannot compensate for its shortfalls.

The gaping grille is something that Audi has had for years. The hexagonal grille is just a tiny variation of it. The whole look of this car is very Audi, not just the grille!

an inappropriate remark I would say.

...but quite an amusing one.

I would really ask you to stop mentioning Audi quality, because it's gone, together with its reliability. We own some 20 A6 2.0 TFSI and they are kind of pure disaster. Last batch of 3 of them was particularly bad with all three of them back at the dealer within a week. Four had within a year total engine failure with one cylinder simply stopped working, interior plastic, especially "aluminium" around the dials, squeaks even on smooth road, front suspension failed on two of them, various sensors (especially parking beepers) failing regularly,... Bottom line: big disappointment. I'm not talking therefore about a single car and possibly "bad day" car, it's simply reality of today's Audi.

Interesting. I've never owned an Audi yet what you say is not what were led to believe by the press reviews or the image the manufacturer portrays....

Why would any one want to copy an awful Audi?

If Hyundai wants to move upmarket it really needs to have a close look at its dealers. We recently went shopping for a new car for my wife and visited a Hyundai main dealer in Scotland but were greeted by a manager who only wanted to tell us how important and successful he was and a salesman who had appallingly bad breath. OK, so these things shouldn't really matter if you are looking at a £15k motor car but they will not be appropriate when trying to sell £50k cars.

Haha! I've found the dealers to be really good, especially compared to the European brands.

A likely story! If it were true you could write to Honest John or set up a free word press site with all the paperwork proof. As it is, this is just a pathetic attempt to shift the focus of the Hyundai being uncompetitive to a made up lie concerning another brand!

You obviously have no clue what you're talking about.

Seems you have an issue against Korean cars but you really ought to be better
informed if you don't want to sound like a conceited ignoramus.

The Hyundai i10 has been the leader in the city car segment ever since launch in 2008, the Kia Sportage has ruled the mass-market SUV roost from 2010 (only lately challenged by the new nissan qashqai)while other models like the i30, i40 and the Picanto are all near the top of their class in terms of quality, refinement, equipment levels etc. And over in the US the first generation Genesis won the North American COTY award in 2009 with its tau V8 engine being voted one of Ward's top ten engines of the world.

Certainly Hyundai/Kia's track record in the last decade or so has been pretty impressive and they are rightly counted as one of the 'big boys' in the industry. You just don't become a global top 5 manufacturer by making sub-par products.

You say they are 'bland and soulless'.
Really? As opposed to Toyotas, Nissans
and Vauxhalls of this world which are so wonderfully 'characterful and soulful'? LMAO. What you term as 'soulful' is a purely subjective opinion and a car which is soulful to one may come across as nothing more than a noisy clanger to another. After all you are assigning various degrees of soulfulness' to machines which are merely an amalgamation of mechanical and electrical parts - I can think of nothing dafter. It's far more instructive to measure objective criteria like noise levels, chassis rigidity, engine performance etc (in which the Genesis does very well) than talk some wafty nonsense.

However if you want to talk about 'character' and 'soul' you can't get more
'anodyne' and 'bland' than cars like the Toyota Prius or the Nissan Note, but I somehow doubt you'll describe these cars in such terms seeing how you talk up Japanese cars (German I can understand but Japanese??).

What a troll we have here ladies and gents.

Thing is though, you slate Toyota and Nissan particularly, but they have cars in their range that people WANT to buy such as GT86 in Toyota's case and 370Z and GTR in the case of Nissan. I genuinely can't think of any Korean car on sale in the UK today that can have the same thing said. I'm not having a go at Korean cars - I'm firmly in the camp that these days there is no such thing as a bad car, but for Kia and Hyundai to succeed the need to inject the same sort of "magic" that Toyota and Nissan have done int he main stream car market before, I think tackling the difficult "luxury" market. Perhaps Kia and Hyundai would get a lot more Kudos if they built a Korean equivalent (but hopefully not a copy of) the Lexus LFA?!

Actually, I can backup some of this... We have a few Audi's on our fleet too and many of them have been back to the dealers a number of times.

No Senior Manager in his right mind will want to be seen as a loser driving a second best car.
This is a no hoper in the UK.

Hyundai has already been selling the Genesis Coupe in the US and elsewhere for over five years, a car which is better and arguably more desirable than the two from Toyota and Nissan you mentioned.

It's not sold in the UK simply because Hyundai doesn't regard our market as being particularly important nor high profile.

By the way if you think that the Lexus LFA is a great car then you really need to have your head examined.

Seriously? A Hyundai is more desirable than a Nissan GTR?

I'm not sure if you're serious or just trying to cause an unnecessary argument. However, based on the other comments you make about Hyundai not taking the UK market seriously and that the Lexus LFA is not a great car, I'm going to assume it's the latter... in which case I'm not interested in discussing further.
And liking your own post?? Really?

I would have thought you were intelligent enough to realise that the two cars I was referring to were the GT86 and the 370Z as the GTR is in a totally different segment. You do know that it's nearly three times the price of the Genesis in the US don't you?

I don't care what they say, it would nice to see more brands to make luxury cars.

Last updated: 6 Mar, 2015