In-depth reviews

Hyundai Genesis review

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

  • Loaded with kit and plenty of space
  • Wrong badge and wrong engine
Find your Hyundai Genesis
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?

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 £48,000 price.

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.

Need to sell your car?
Find your best offer from over 5,000+ dealers. It’s that easy.

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.


Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

More on Genesis

New Genesis G90 2016 review
Genesis G90 front tracking cropped
Road tests
21 Jan 2016

New Genesis G90 2016 review

We get a first taste of Hyundai's premium brand, Genesis, in South Korea
Social climbers: Hyundai Genesis vs Lexus GS
Car group tests
6 Mar 2015

Social climbers: Hyundai Genesis vs Lexus GS

Hyundai’s new Genesis and the Lexus GS aim to shake up the exec elite. Do they make the grade?
Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 review
Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 front
Road tests
14 Feb 2015

Hyundai Genesis UK 2015 review

The Hyundai Genesis executive saloon is very ambitious - can it really match the Germans?
2015 Hyundai Genesis to hit showrooms in April
29 Jan 2015

2015 Hyundai Genesis to hit showrooms in April

First details on upcoming BMW 5 Series rival: new Hyundai Genesis will cost from £47,995
Hyundai Genesis Coupe review
Road tests
27 Nov 2014

Hyundai Genesis Coupe review

New Hyundai Genesis Coupe is not coming to the UK, but should it? We test it over 1,000 miles to find out
Hyundai Genesis gets top safety rating
27 Oct 2014

Hyundai Genesis gets top safety rating

Luxury saloon achieves highest ever score in Australian crash tests