Genesis Sedan is built at Ulsan in Korea, uses DH platform

Genesis Sedan is built at Ulsan in Korea, uses DH platform

Hyundai has just added a limousine at the top of its Genesis line-up, and revealed a concept preview of a BMW 3 Series sized sedan. Between those two sits the Genesis Sedan, soon to gain a new name and other changes.

It's not hard to pin down what Genesis is meant to stand for. Hyundai's Lexus, in short. Or rather, what Lexus used to be about: peerless build quality, conservative styling and medium to big capacity petrol engines. I've been trying out the 5m long Genesis sedan in a country where petrol is cheap and many buyers are open to the idea of a pricey large Hyundai. 

The only way you would know this is a car built by Korea's largest vehicle brand is seeing the stylised H badge on the bootlid. Well, the same logo is etched into the glass but that's just me being overly geeky noticing that. In the Australian state of New South Wales, you see quite a few of these sedans cruising round as airport and hotel limos, often with paint that's even darker than the tint of the windows. Not blingy, just nicely understated. A bit like the equivalent E-Classes that plough the West End to Heathrow run.

In some parts of Asia-Pacific, Genesis is a rising and successful luxury brand. In Europe, not so much. As well as the lack of an engine with a low CO2 number, brand awareness is minimal and a lot of money is going to be needed at some stage to change that. For now then, Hyundai seems happy to concentrate its efforts on developing its luxury division at home, in China, the Middle East, Russia, Asia and Oceana. 

The G90, which is sold as the EQ900 in South Korea, has just gained a stretched limousine body style but apart from some exports to China, that one probably won't be available outside the home market. Then below this is the Genesis Sedan, or G80 as it will become later in 2016. A G70 should follow in 2017 and for how that one will look, take a glance at the recent New York show concept

Hyundai is on the record as saying there will be six Genesis models by 2020, so if we count the standard and long wheelbase G90 as one, plus the G80 and BMW 3 Series sized G70, that leaves three. Which means a coupe about the same size as the BMW 4 Series, and two crossovers. These are likely to be aimed at the X3 and X5. I use BMW as the benchmark rather than Audi as the Korean cars will likely be rear-wheel drive/all-wheel drive. 

What about volume? That's likely to be more than you might have imagined if you're not familiar with how the Genesis Sedan has fared. The original model was introduced in 2008 and sold around 250,000 units globally over a six-year period. The current model, revealed to the media in late 2013, has been averaging around 60,000 units a year. In 2015, the US took 31,374 units of the car and during February 2016, Hyundai Motor America delivered an impressive 2,976 cars. A cheesy Superbowl ad will have been responsible for some of that.

So what of the car itself? Well, it's bigger than it looks, with an overall length of 4,990mm, width of 1,890mm and height of 1,480mm. Compared to the old shape model with which it shares a platform, the wheelbase was extended by 75mm to 3,010mm, which means that rear room is extremely generous.

Hyundai has got a lot of the details right with this model. With the beautifully detailed key in your pocket, the mirrors fold out and illuminate the road with GENESIS and the logo as you approach. Just as you would in a Hyundai, touch the door handle or the boot to unlock, or lock.

The second impression is solidity. The doors are heavy and the whole interior looks and feels like an old school German car. Still, there are similarities to Hyundais too: silvery plastic interior door handles don't look or feel very premium. That's a shame as the timber and plastics of the door trims themselves are at Lexus and Volvo XC90 levels, but then the the steering wheel could be off just about any other Korean car. 

Nice touches include the rear window sunblind which is lowered when you select reverse but then whirrs itself up again as you shift into Drive. Joy of joys the infotainment system is well thought out and not overloaded: HVAC controls are push buttons and proper dials which are so much quicker and safer to use on the go.

Bonus points to Hyundai for a headliner which is a soft fabric. So too are the covers for the sun visors, which you might not expect at this price level: it's aimed at the Lexus GS but it's much cheaper. When I hinted earlier that it looked and felt like an old Mercedes, what I meant was the way everything seems designed to last for decades, outside and inside. Also, the shut-lines on the exterior panels are even better than you find on Hyundais and Kias. Look out Lexus and Infiniti. 

You see the word GENESIS on the steering wheel and at the base of the door frames, it's also on the edge of the bonnet and in some cars I have noticed it's in the middle of the bootlid. Also on the boot, lower down is GENESIS on the left and, this being a V6-engined test car, 3.8 on the right. A 5.0-litre V8 is also available in many markets. 

The six-cylinder engine isn't up to the best Japanese standards when you press the right pedal hard but in normal driving conditions, it's notable only by its silence. 

if you're seated in the back, you'll find an array of controls for the sound system within the central armrest, as well as adjusters for seat cooling/heating and the electric blind. Other fun things to play with include buttons to slide the front passenger seat forward and tilt the backrest too.

This is one of those cars that you get out of thinking how much trouble its designers went to. The sun roof is a case in point: one press of a button and the fabric blind splits and rolls forwards and backwards to reveal a glass panel, which then lifts and retracts onto the roof. It's beautiful to watch. 

Last thoughts on the interior include a few things which you wouldn't find on the driver's door in a German luxury sedan such as an A6 or 5 Series. That's the word  AUTO on each window button, and the same applies to MIRROR. Hyundai, please just leave them off as part of the car's mid life update. And speaking of that, a facelift and name change should be appearing later this year, so by the end of 2016, the range will be G90 and G80, with the G70 likely to be added in 2017.

After the three-sedan line up is in place, I'd say the crossovers would be certainties for 2018 and 2019, with the coupe slipping into the range just before the end of that year. Let's also predict that a smaller SUV and a high-end sports car will be appearing in the early 2020s.

Hyundai is said to be restricting the launch of Genesis the brand to South Korea, North America, China and the Middle East, initially at least. Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other markets should follow from 2017 as the model range is expanded.

The Hyundai Genesis was tested in Australia, where it is priced between AU$60,000 and $82,000 (GBP31,804-43,465) plus on-road costs. Worthy of note: in 2015, the car's first full year sales totalled 533 units. This was more than the Lexus ES and GS combined. 

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