One of the most breathtaking auto success stories of our time has been the rise of Hyundai. In thirty years its cars have gone from cheap and forgettable to their current state of desirable and, uh, reasonably priced. The company’s new Genesis line is its latest salvo, and warrants a close look.
Just as Toyota recognized in the late 1980s that status seekers weren’t going to get bragging rights from its yeoman nameplate and thus created the glittering Lexus, so Hyundai is establishing Genesis as its prestige brand. On the floor now are two muscular and sleek sedans—the G80 and G90. Coming next year are the G70 (think BMW 3-series) and a sporty crossover.
Owners will have to sacrifice not having that Teutonic cachet, but no one’s going to think you pulled up in the milk wagon. Genesis assembled a European design team that previously had drawn up Bentleys, Audis and Lamborghinis, and there is an admirable sleekness and strength in the lines of each Genesis model. The options list is rather extensive; avoid it and you’ll get a lavish car in the low 40s.
The G80 and G80 Sport models are plenty spacious for four tall adults. You don’t really need to step up to the G90 unless you want a warship limousine. The G80 interior is a composition of soft leather and sumptuous textures. Passengers will instantly sense the general fineness.
The G80 eases you smoothly down the road in a cloud of quiet—they’ve clearly made an effort at consummate sound-proofing. But if you hit it, especially with the 420-horsepower V8, the thrust is startling. It’s no sports car, but it does sail around bends with aplomb.
It offers four driving modes, ranging from snow to let’s go. The V6 versions still feel plenty strong. For Connecticut driving, I’d recommend the normal V6 with the all-wheel-drive option called HTRAC. With Hyundai’s recent reliability record, the G80 is well worth considering.
Prices (approx.): G80 3.8, $45,000; GS 80 Sport 3.3, $54,000; G90, $71,000
Power: 5-liter V8 or twin-turbo V6; rear or all-wheel drive
EPA Mileage Ratings: 15-19 city/24-27 highway