2015 Hyundai Genesis first drive review

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The Hyundai Genesis arrived more than five years ago, true to its name, at the genesis of a new era for luxury.

At the time, the luxury market only had what amounted to a collective hiccup; but the recession that ensued gave many who could afford a luxury vehicle just a little more pause about displays of wealth.

And we couldn't think of a better place to illustrate that than where Hyundai brought us this past week to drive the all-new, second-generation 2015 Genesis: Scottsdale, Arizona, a place that's for some time been an enclave of new money. At the same time, it's a place with some contrasts and reminders that wealth is fleeting—with shopping centers half-occupied, and the occasional house that looks boarded up, not quite finished, or completely abandoned.

Aimed at the upgrader (and the wallflower)

Last time the Genesis offered an incredible value for a luxury car. But value for money can only go so far for the image-conscious. Hyundai is determined this time around to add “desire” to the Genesis, and we think it’s gone a long way toward accomplishing this. The company has the target buyer for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis tagged as “The Upgrader”—someone who either has a strong income but isn’t rich yet, or someone who is less interested in status and more interested in good products. We’d rank physicians, lawyers, and probably realtors in there—along with anyone else who wants to have a car that’s luxurious but not too ostentatious.

Those people are going to be absolutely wowed by the level of technology and active-safety features in the new Genesis. From automatic emergency braking and full stop-and-restart radar cruise control, to various other detection systems and an active lane departure and lane keep assist system that studies lane markings and will steer you along for 15 or more seconds before scolding you to get your hands back on the wheel, the Genesis now has an active-safety set (mostly) matching what's offered on German luxury sedans.

A Hyundai first: Great, world-class steering

That's not all, however. The new Genesis has the best steering of any Hyundai we've ever driven—and among the best of what's offered in models more on the comfort side of the luxury-sedan realm. The new rack-mounted electric power steering system, supplied by Mando (which also supplies the unit in the Chevy Camaro and SS), is very well tuned—in a way that Hyundai hasn't been able to master in its other cars—with a light and precise but settled feel on center, and weighting that gathers convincingly around tight corners. The rack itself is of the mechanically variable-ratio type, which gives this big sedan the right kind of nudge it needs at times.

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