Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hyundai Genesis - Luxury Best Bargain?

When Hyundai announced a few years back that they would be designing several new luxury models with an eye toward shipping these cars to the ultra competitive North American and European markets, most enthusiasts immediately criticized the Korean automaker for that decision. The criticism had little to do with Hyundai's ability to build these types of vehicles - they've been doing so for years, but keeping them in Korea -- rather, the automaker planned to sell these cars under the Hyundai umbrella. That's just like selling a Chevy at a Cadillac dealership.

Hyundai Genesis - Luxury Best Bargain?Despite the criticism, Hyundai has gone ahead and introduced its flagship Genesis sedan to the US and will immediately follow that car up with the Genesis coupe. Like it or not, Hyundai is pushing upmarket with a car that is surprisingly luxurious and undercutting its competition by thousands of dollars.

Hyundai Genesis - Luxury Best Bargain?Hyundai has several popular cars in its crosshairs as it rolls out the Genesis. The Cadillac CTS, Lexus ES, and Chrysler 300 are just a few of the cars mentioned by Hyundai as competitors to the Genesis. Other models from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Infiniti, and Acura are also fair game, and it is the owners of these models who Hyundai would like to persuade to consider the Genesis. Even if that fails, Hyundai is confident that a number of Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet owners wouldn't mind paying a few thousand dollars more to get Cadillac quality at a Pontiac price.

Hyundai Genesis - Luxury Best Bargain?
Hyundai Genesis - Luxury Best Bargain?The 2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Two engine choices are available with Genesis buyers: a 3.8L V6 or a powerful 4.6L V8 producing 375 horsepower. The latter engine, though not exactly thrifty on gas, is offered to appeal to luxury car buyers who expect a lot of power and are willing to pay for it.

The Genesis' rear wheel drive platform also matches what luxury car buyers want. These types of cars are routinely test on Germany's famed Nürburgring racetrack (also known as "the ring") where they are put through the paces and graded on their performance. I haven't received word yet whether the Genesis was tested there, but if it wasn't you can expect Hyundai to join Porsche, Cadillac, BMW, Saleen, Infiniti, Mercedes, and other manufactures in the very near future.

The Genesis Is All About Luxury

Beyond the engine choices (each one is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission), the Genesis is all about luxury. Some of its top features include: four wheel antilock brakes with brake assist; electronic stability control; traction control; front and side mounted airbags; adaptive lighting; power everything; driver information system; backup camera; leather everywhere; woodgrain trim; etc.

The style of the Genesis looks similar to a previous generation Mercedes (or could it be Infiniti?), but with a base MSRP of $32,250, is priced more than ten thousand dollars less than comparable models.

Auto critics are just now getting their hands on the Genesis and are giving the car glowing reviews. Clearly, Hyundai has outperformed itself with the Genesis but one potentially fatal flaw is possible: will buyers flock to a value oriented car like the Hyundai Genesis or will they pay extra for the prestige of owning a BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes? Time will tell; it'll be interesting to watch how consumers react.

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