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Review: 2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 World Auto News
By kleo. Hyundai , Car Reviews

Fresh off its win in Detroit as the North American Car of the Year, Hyundai’s Genesis is riding high – oh, and don’t forget about increased sales last month. With the eagerly awaited release of the Genesis coupe, it’s as though the seemingly overnight sensation from Seoul can do no wrong.

In the summer of 2008 we had an opportunity to put the 4.6-liter V8 modeled Genesis sedan through its paces. A great car, yes. But we were also pining for a chance at some seat time with the sensibly powered 3.8-liter V6 model – expected to account for the bulk of Genesis sedan sales. Well, we finally had the opportunity to spend the week with one. Here’s our report.

2009 Hyundai Genesis V6:

What is it?
A five-place performance sedan that is actually a better value than its larger V8-engined brother, the Genesis 3.8 is powered by the Lambda series of six-cylinder engines developed by Hyundai. It is a pivotal design that clearly lifts the brand away from its previous role as designer of science fiction-looking space vehicles-masquerading-as-cars, and shows the Korean manufacturer is serious about the North American market.

What’s it up against?
Originally, we mentioned the Genesis was benchmarked against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Infiniti M, BMW 7-Series and Lexus GS models. That is still the case for the most part, though cross-shoppers are expected to look at the Lexus ES 350, Cadillac CTS and even the Infiniti G37 sedans, which the Genesis reminds us of. Sort of.

Any breakthroughs?
“Value pricing” is still the key breakthrough at Hyundai with the Genesis. Being benchmarked against the big boys has caused them to bring their A-game, which means loading the Genesis up with content heretofore reserved for the more established luxury lines. Things like the Lexicon audio system that was, at one point, only found in a Rolls-Royce, would be a good example.

How does it look?
Conservatively elegant could be the advertising copy for the Genesis 3.8. Not breaking any styling taboos or barriers, it features a flawless deep metal flake (which we now call metallic) blue with tasteful chrome accents throughout. Hyundai logos were confined to the wheel centers and trunk lid – discrete.

The only thing that separates the two currently available versions of the Genesis were the absence of chrome trim strips near the rocker panels of the car, which signify the presence of the larger V8 under the hood. Both vehicles ship with elliptically shaped chrome dual exhaust tips from under the rear bumper. And yes, we still think that the grille looks like the forehead of Star Trek’s Lieutenant Worf.

And inside?
One of the largest, most comfortable interiors we have found, the Genesis 3.8 does not have all the bells and whistles of its larger V8 brother. But that’s okay. The interior is still plenty fine, featuring a hand-stitched padded leather dashboard, Lexicon 14-speaker premium audio system and enough rear-seat legroom to accommodate Yao Ming on an escape away from Houston. Well, we exaggerate. A little bit.

The front seats are extremely supportive after long rides and offer heating as well as optional forced air-cooling for drives up and down the state of Florida in August. Our test vehicle was also equipped with Hyundai Premium Plus package which, in addition to the aforementioned Lexicon audio, was also shipped with 18-inch Hyper silver alloy wheels, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, leather-wrapped dash, door and trim, a power sunroof, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel and column, and iPod connectivity.

We commented on the impressive NVH (that’s noise, vibraiton and harshness for those of you new to this game) of the V8 model Genesis and things aren’t much different here. Thanks to an underfloor sound deadening tray, the interior sound level of the 3.8 is every bit as quiet as its larger-lunged brother - a point not lost on owners of current Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

But does it go?
Driving in South Florida brought continual surprise over this newest Hyundai. Surprise from people who stopped us to ask if this was “the new Genesis,” (note to Hyundai marketing: Your ads are getting noticed) to our own surprise in feeling the power available underfoot from the 3.8-liter, 290-horsepower, 264 lb-ft of torque, V6 engine. After a week of passing slower, lolly-gagging tourists and other speed-challenged motorists around West Palm Beach, it became clear that this 24-valve engine with Aisin six-speed Shiftronic transmission is no also-ran. It’s an engine that can stand on its own six-cylinders, not to mention its superior gas mileage ratings. For the record, the EPA checks them in at 18-mpg city and 27-mpg highway.

Handling is enabled through the use of a Sachs-designed advanced five-link suspension at both front and rear quarters of the Genesis. Along with this, the Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) system allowed for infinitely adjustable ride quality, changing from harsher (read firmer) spring rates while cornering, to a more compliant feeling while negotiating smoother roads and highways. Steering still felt slightly numb at center, but still offered good feel throughout the rest of its range. Understeer was present but in a well controlled manner that we have come to expect in most examples. I know that sounds like a broken record but just imagine what driving would be like if we were always correcting back outward after a vehicle oversteered itself.

Hyundai has shown the ability to bring an affordable luxury sedan to the US market. In light of the current economic climate, it just may be the answer that many new car buyers are looking for.

Why you would buy it:
Hyundai has shown they can bring value to the luxury market. With the new Genesis 3.8 V6, it is an even better bargain than the original. Then factor in the Hyundai Assurance Program, which allows you to return the car if you lose your job within the first year. And, oh yeah, can you say 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty?

Why you wouldn’t:
You still care what your neighbor down the block - whose house is now being foreclosed - thinks.

2009 Hyundai Genesis V6 base price, $32,250. As tested, $36,000.
Premium Plus Package, $3,000; Destination, $750.

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