There are no Hyundai badges inside the new Genesis. The only branding you'll find inside this petrol-powered luxury saloon is a winged Genesis logo, emblazoned across the leather steering wheel.
This is new territory for Hyundai, which has re-engineered the Genesis – designed primarily for North American consumption – for European tastes, giving it every luxury you could imagine as standard, a 3.8-litre V6 in the nose and an eight-speed automatic gearbox sending 311bhp to the rear wheels.
It is expected to cost around £48k when it arrives in the UK, which will put it up against rivals such as the Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI and BMW 535i, and it will be sold at Hyundai’s head quarters in High Wycombe.
What’s the 2014 Hyundai Genesis like to drive?
Our test car had four-wheel-drive and different suspension settings from what we'll get in the UK, but even with these alterations in mind, the Genesis promises to be a very decent motorway cruiser.
The V6 engine is very hushed when you’re not accelerating hard, and wind and road noise are well suppressed up to motorway speeds, making the Genesis a relaxing place to travel. That’s where the big Hyundai is at its best, because you aren’t going to want to hustle it down a twisty road.
Despite having a Sport mode, which tightens up suspension, steering weight and gearbox response, the Genesis always feels like a heavy car, with slack body control and numb steering that feels too light to give the driver any real confidence when cornering.
In the default Normal mode, the gearbox feels quite lazy and sometimes indecisive about which gear to pick, but most of the time the eight-speed auto blurs the ratios well. It also responds quickly when in manual mode, so shifts don't feel jerky, making it easy to make the most of the rasping V6. This engine needs to be worked hard before it feels fast though, and isn't as smooth-revving as its rivals.
If ride quality on European-spec suspension is anything to go by (UK cars are expected to be softer still), the Genesis is a comfortable thing much of the time. Big bumps and rippled Tarmac are easily soaked up and it feels settled at a high-speed cruise, although sharp-edged potholes send a heavy shudder through the cabin even at low speeds.
What’s the 2014 Hyundai Genesis like inside?
It doesn’t live up to standards set by rivals like the BMW 5-Series. There is no single element that stands out as feeling overly cheap or tacky; rather most of the dash, from the switchgear damping and some slightly coarse-looking plastics low down the cabin, and even the graphics on the 8.0-inch screen (UK cars get smaller screens than that shown in our test car) feel a notch or two below the very high quality standards in this exclusive price range.
What does feel up to par are the broad leather seats, which are electrically adjustable, heated and cooled, and have adjustable bolster, lumbar and thigh support, making them feel impressively armchair-like, but still supportive. There’s also a head-up display, which is clear and easy to see.
It’s just as comfortable for those in the back, where there’s masses of legroom, if not quite such generous headroom; the very lofty may find it necessary to slouch a bit, although this is a comfortable attitude thanks to take thanks to the two individually reclining, heated and cooled seats.
The 493-litre boot is sizeable, and will be able to carry bulky suitcases, although the way it narrows farther back towards the seats could make loading bulkier items a bit of a faff. However, the fact that the Genesis comes as standard with a powered bootlid that opens automatically if you stand behind it with the key in your pocket for three seconds – no foot waving needed – is a neat touch.
That’s not the only clever trick the Genesis has to offer. It’s the best-equipped car in the class, with everything from three-zone climate control (which allows a set temperature to be set for the rear-seat area as well as each front passenger), adaptive cruise control and a panoramic sunroof.
Safety features include automatic emergency braking up to 50mph, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning, 360-degree parking camera and even rear traffic warning to alert you if there’s an oncoming vehicle approaching as you’re reversing from a parking space, not to mention nine airbags.
Infotainment is no less indulgent, with 14-speakers, Bluetooth, DAB and USB input to allow full integration of your MP3 player, all of which is controlled through the colour touch-screen, although many will prefer to use the rotary controller to scroll through the screen’s menu layout when on the move.
Should I buy one?
We’ll have to wait to drive the UK production car on home turf before delivering a final verdict, but it's hard to see how the Genesis can compete against rivals as polished as the BMW 535i (or the similarly priced 530d that we favour).
After all, the BMW might have less equipment, but estimated prices also suggest that it will be around £4k less than the Genesis, and – unless something dramatic happens with the UK-spec suspension – vastly better handling, just as refined, not to mention faster.
Certainly, the Hyundai is on a par for refinement, space and comfort, but beyond that it’s way off the mark, even before you consider what’s likely to be a steep loss in value and shocking fuel efficiency.
The Genesis is an impressive showcase for the technology Hyundai has at its disposal, including gadgets that will be trickling down the range, where they'll help Hyundai to maintain its strong footing. However, the Genesis also proves that the Korean maker has a long way to go before it's likely to have any impact on the luxury end of Europe’s car market.
What Car? says...
Engine size 3.8 V6 petrol
Price from £48k (est)
Torque 293lb ft
0-62mph 6.5 seconds
Top speed 149mph
Fuel economy 25mpg