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  • Interior finish; quiet, spacious cabin; swift, growly engine; supremely comfortable ride; decent balance
  • Anonymous styling; lurchy manual downshifts; vague steering feel; sensitive stability control

7 / 10

Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
by Daniel DeGasperi

Think rear-wheel drive, V8-powered, full-size luxury sedan and Hyundai Genesis is unlikely to be the first make/model pairing to swerve figuratively into Aussie minds.

That won’t change anytime soon, either, because this generation of the Genesis we tested in the US will not come to Australia, and the next all-new model due in 2015 is unconfirmed.

But we’re driving the current, five-year-old, five-metre-long Hyundai Genesis sedan in California to see whether Hyundai’s local arm should bring the next-generation car here. It’s the first opportunity the Australian operations have to do so, as the next Genesis will for the first time be produced in right-hand drive.

In North America, the Genesis sedan has sold quite well since its launch in 2008. Americans are clearly used to expensive Hyundais, with the mid-sized Azera (nee Grandeur) and extra-large Equus having long been positioned either side of the Genesis range Stateside.

The current Genesis sedan is available with a choice of 248kW/395Nm 3.8-litre V6 and 320kW/510Nm 5.0-litre V8 engines, both hooked up to an eight-speed automatic.

Fully independent suspension front and rear with Sachs adaptive dampers are common to both engine derivatives, but the V8 gets a sports-tuned set-up dubbed ‘R-Spec’. While hydraulic power steering is standard on the V6, an electro-mechanical system is also reserved for the V8.

Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review

In some ways the Genesis sedan feels dated, but in many ways it feels very un-Hyundai-like. And really rather good.

Subjectively, the styling is all a bit anonymous-luxury, but the interior finish is excellent despite the dated controls and average plastics. The Genesis sedan is superbly quiet, very roomy and rides road bumps brilliantly – three big ticks for any luxury conveyance.

Equipment extends to a cooled driver’s seat, heated front seats with full electric adjustment and active front head rests, electric-adjust steering column, quality leather trim, adaptive cruise control, swivelling xenon headlights, an electric rear sunshade, rear-view camera, 14-speaker audio, satellite navigation, and eight airbags – front, front-side, rear-side and curtain.

The Genesis sedan clearly plays the game long favoured by Japanese sedans – to out-equip and out-size the Germans for less money.

The rear seat in the Hyundai Genesis is very spacious, with quality leather seats and rear air vents, but no separate climate settings for back-seat riders. It’s more spacious than a Commodore, but not quite as lengthy as a Caprice. The front seats are comfortable, soft and likewise trimmed with quality leather, but they lack support for your sides.

As expected, the boot is large and there’s carpeting on the inner side of the bootlid so luggage doesn’t get scratched – or heavy objects don’t dent the bootlid (which from a distance looks conspicuously like that of the current E-Class, which actually launched after the Genesis sedan).

Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review

Performance from the big V8 is effortlessly swift, the soundtrack mute in the low part of the tachometer, and pleasantly growly when the throttle is pushed.

The eight-speed auto flutters through its ratios adeptly, and will subtly go back a gear or two under brakes. But using the left steering wheel paddle manually doesn’t correlate with a rev-matching downshift – that is, you get a lurch from the car when manually selecting a lower gear if the revs spike too high.

It takes until 5000rpm for the full torque figure to arrive, with peak power delivered at 6400rpm. Yet this engine is happy to work in the lower part of the rev range as much as it enjoys exploring the top part.

The Hyundai Genesis has that wonderful comfort that once typified a luxury car before many were sent to be tuned at the Nurburgring. It floats over genuinely large compressions, but the car doesn’t come back to the ground with a crash. The body of the Genesis doesn’t move around too much, and comfort over small bumps is excellent, especially considering the large 19-inch wheels – typically, the thicker the sidewall of the tyre, the better the comfort.

The softness of the Hyundai Genesis sedan also reveals surprising balance. It’s easy and enjoyable to find a rhythm at an undemanding pace, but start to push harder and the Genesis sedan starts to feel like it wants to push through bends and not go around them.

Raise corner-entry speed and the tyres grip, the body rolls, and the driver hangs on. Quickly change direction – as the brilliant roads between San Diego and Palm Springs demanded – and the roll turns into lurch, with weight shifting from side to side clearly felt.

The Genesis sedan is rear-wheel drive, though the car doesn’t capitalise on the expectation that cars sending their drive to the rear wheels are more dynamic than those sending power to the front wheels. Accelerate out of corners early and the car pushes at the front; attempt to push the throttle later and the stability control aggressively shuts down proceedings anyway.

Arguably the Genesis sedan’s main disappointment is steering feel. The electro-mechanical system is slow, vague and sticky to self-centre – completely off-pace with luxury rivals.

It reinforces that this Hyundai simply prefers to be kept within its middle-pace sweet spot, where a Holden Calais, for example, can transition from comfortable cruiser to genuine driver’s car when the tempo is raised.

In its Japanese and Australian – let alone German – rivals there is simply a greater breadth of ability than that offered by the current-generation Hyundai Genesis. But this is a car that gets the basics right – it is quiet, roomy, rides the bumps well, and is seemingly well made.

Pricing will likely dictate whether the next-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan finds an Australian customs stamp in its passport. Despite being sized like a Holden Caprice, and equipped better than most cars under $100K, the Genesis sedan will need to play a strong value card to be a contender, while also widening its talent base with the new generation.

It’s a tough double-ask, and it will be interesting to see if Hyundai rises to the challenge.

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Hyundai Genesis V8 R-Spec Review
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  • F1orce

    I really like the exterior design.

    It’s the interior that is quite rubbish.

    Having driven the 3.8L GDI Coupe it really feels nothing like 348HP. The transmission ratios are terrible and also they just don’t match the engine and the shift times are quite slow.

    The interior is flimsy, all the switches seem as they’re about to fall off.

    And the worst part is that the engine sounds very gruff, rough and unrefined.

    Plus you could get a Mustang or Camero V6 for the price of the 4-Cyl Genesis Coupe

  • Poison_Eagle

    Good article, but how much does it undercut the Germans and Lexus/Inifniti in the US? What do you think it would sell here for?  Interested to see how much more adventurous the next one is. If it comes here, I reckon high 50’s for the V6 to high 60s for the V8, or they won’t be in the hunt.

    I admire the Genesis the same way I admire the VW Phaeton, for boldly pushing a mainstream brand way upmarket, and pulling it off with style IMO.

  • Don Quay

    I’d be really surprised if we ever saw the Genesis here. With the demise of the i45, Hyundai have shown they can’t sell mid/large cars in this market and I don’t think they would bother with this.

    • $29896495

      Seems like a pointless waste of time to me. Korean Lexus copy. Not needed in our market, and unless dirt cheap, wouldn’t sell.

      • bd

        How is the Genesis in any way a Lexus copy?

        And besides, it was Lexus that copied the Germans with the IS, GS and LS (and actually having been called out by the head of MB design for copying).

    • bd


      The smaller Euro i40 is more expensive than the i45.

    • Jay

       They can sell mid; but perhaps not quite ready for large. One of the probable reasons why the i45 was axed was because its own product line-up was oversaturated. I think Hyundai need to take baby steps in establishing their pedigree with midsize cars first before taking the plunge.

  • JoeR_AUS

    Hmm, it would need to be cheaper than a V8 Caprice and yes the bogans can drive and they can distinguish the difference between a wannabee and the real thing.

  • Tony Abbotts No 1 fan

    Looks like a cheap Merc copy 

    • Golfmother

      Spot on tony , cheap and nasty , horrible front , soggy handling , wobbly steering , no point in OZ .

      • James Cortez

        You’ve made a judgement that it has wobbly steering, soggly handling and have never driven one yet, have you? Typical uneducated comemnt from downunder.

        • $29896495

          I don’t know, on this occasion I agree with his last few words. NO POINT IN OZ.

          • Zaccy16

            yep exactly, why would you bring this here when the big aussies don’t sell and in the falcons case is a better car than this korean rubbish

          • $29896495

            Very true Zaccy

          • Dave76

            LOL Korean rubbish?? I love hearing that, considering that Holdens entire small to mid size line up are sub-standard Daewoos, the irony in that comment is laughable. I co-manage a 3000+ fleet off all brands for a major car rental company and as it currently stands Hyundai would have to be the most reliable we have on fleet. They are being requested by customers over Corollas now, and the Holden Cruze’s we have on fleet do nothing but cause complaints, most hate them, including the staff.

          • smilingjack00

            these morons dont realise that 3/4 of gmh are korean. hyundai and kia rock.

        • smilingjack00

          you get the euro trolls on every forum paid to rubbish hyundai and kia they are that scared of them. you can tell them easily as they come across as uneducated bogans unable to back up what they say with facts. ignorant trolls who have never driven a korean car.

      • Dave76

        You just described the current Caprice, it sells so why wouldnt this? Plus it has a 5.0L V8 with more power then Holden’s 6.0L. If reliabilty is as good as the current line up in Australia, it would make for a great alternative to a Caprice.

    • bd

      Aside from having a center divider on the grill (which is diff. from MB’s) – what about the Genesis looks like MB (if anything, looks more like a BMW).

  • Jober As A Sudge

    Styling inside and out doesn’t look good though the engine sounds like a decent contender. I guess it all depends on what they price this at but it’ll have to undercut it’s more fancied opponents by a hefty margin me thinks.
    I wouldn’t buy a Kia or Hyundai but the leap forward these 2 manufacturers have taken in the past few years is good to see.

  • Maz

    That’s a damn decent output from a 3.8 though. Drop that 5.0 into the Genesis Coupe, that’d be interesting.

  • idlebrain

    Well, the thing is this one will be replaced with new one this year.Which means this car will never come to Australia.

  • Dave S

    If Skoda can sell their ugly models here and make money from selling 100 cars a month, surely Hyundai can justify bring us another RWD V8 to our market (whick looks much better than any Skoda).

    • Johnson

      At least Skoda’s styling is original – this is a blatant Merc copy, not even attempting to hide it.

      • Don Quay

        Yes, and the Skoda is underpinned by qualityb chassis and drivetrain engineering b

        • Pro346

          Quality front wheel drive pos you mean……

        • Zaccy16

          exactly, this would struggle to keep up with a superb through the bends! 

      • Golfmother

        I actually thought it was some new ssangosong thingy , generic korean , copy of everthing euro .

      • Zaccy16

        exactly! this is mercedes gone very wrong, the interior is dated and the handling is normal americanised boating on land, it also has Hyundai’s trademark rubbish steering!

        • Jay

           In the Genesis’s defence, the car is 5years old so no surprises in saying ‘oh, the interior is dated’.

        • smilingjack00

          so youve driven one then? please tell us all about the experience or shut up.

  • bd

    The all new Genesis is due to launch later this year and likely early 2014 for NA.

    The new Genesis is developed with the world-market in mind, so it will have sportier handling as Hyundai Europe is having a major role in the engineering.

    Also will be getting a significant price bump (still undercutting Lexus and Infiniti) to reflect the more luxurious interior and added tech.

  • horsie

    The V8 engine in a stripped out performance version or the coupe would be awesome for australia. 

    • $29896495

      Oh, you are talking that race car. It’s not a road car.

  • Homer

    With opel insignia VXR at 60K, this one has to be priced well below that number to generate sufficient sales volume

    • Martin

      Just thinking the same. The Hyundai could only play to price since the Australian premium market is intensely fickle (Infiniti can attest). If this started at $45,000 I could actually see it shifting some units but anything too close to the Germans and it will be dead in the water. Irrelevant that you would be comparing spec for spec (another Infiniti moment), Australians can see 51k for a 3 series (even though it is a 316 – it has the propeller badge) and would buy that over a similarly priced Hyundai. The premium market in Australia has very few similarities to the US so it would be a very difficult task for Hyundai. Good luck to them all the same.

  • V8Realist

    Within 5 years, the only RWD V8 sedan available to a person on an average income would be this Genisis Spec R V8 if Hyundai bring it here. Commodore will be FWD, and 4cyl, and Falcon replaced by Mondeo/Fusion, again FWD and 4 cyl. Hope V8Supercar fans can also get my point…