You know you need luxury in your life. But is it attainable?
Here’s what I want in a luxury car: Quiet ride, pampering features, top safety technology, an interface that makes connecting with my phone easy. Oh, and it has to look and feel good, too. Spending time in the 2016 Genesis made me realize that luxury isn’t just the amenities a car has, but what it does for you, including saving you money.
The Luxury backstory: What is driving this market (and making it so alluring?)
Maybe the reason luxury is looking much more alluring these days is that it has become so much more competitive. I saw this incredible stat recently: a third of luxury spending by the upper crust — $105+ billion — is spent on luxury cars. More than any other sector.
Next to that stat was another incredible observation: luxury buyers seek experience over everything else; the survey showed that $135 billion was spent on ‘experience’ such as travel, entertainment, food, pampering and furnishings: things that make the buyer feel good. That can easily be said about luxury cars, too. They are designed to make you feel good.
So it’s no surprise that the auto industry is going after the luxury customer with a force that hasn’t been seen in a long time, if ever. Over the next few years you’ll see a whole new luxury line from Alpha Romeo, expansion by Maserati, resurgence by Lincoln; we’ve seen the rebirth of Volvo and a new level of luxury from Buick, all in addition the continuing growth by Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Infiniti, Porsche, Audi and more.
Getting into the game can be tough. But taking a page from the playbook that Toyota and Nissan used in the 1980’s when they introduced Lexus and Infiniti, Hyundai is about to become a major player in the space, too.
Who this car is for:
- Drivers who care more about luxury and less about brand
- Early adopters who like to get in on a new thing first
- Drivers who love technology that connects cars to phones and watches
- Drivers who appreciate having top luxuries at hand
- Drivers who like to pamper back seat passengers
- Couples or families who regularly take longer drives or road trips
- Buyers who want a lot of luxury for a small(ish) price: $53,000 for the model we drove
Genesis: Hyundai’s wish list challenges the luxury market
In 2007 Hyundai, the national pride of South Korea and the car brand that is most commonly driven there, found that having successfully built a well-regarded global brand it was time to step up the game. Soon the company was challenging the notions of conventional luxury with the Genesis and its even more luxurious sibling the Equus, which hit on all points: Price, comfort, technology and fine details.
Fast forward to November, 2015 when Hyundai announced that Genesis was formally being spun off as its own automotive division: The name will be branded as a new line of cars with its own DNA, identity and dealerships. In coming months Genesis will debut its two flagship models, the Genesis G80 (formerly Genesis) and Genesis G90 (formerly Equus).
Best priced luxury car on the market, but does it stand up to the competition?
The word ‘Genesis’ might also be interpreted as ‘first things first.’ That’s what the company went for in developing this line: top amenities first. The 2016 model we test drove (in Empire State Gray—love the name of the color!) was loaded with luxury features, some of them as good as or superior to more expensive luxury cars.
My favorite was the head up display, which projects key driver feedback such as speed, directions and blind spot warnings onto the windshield in the driver’s field of vision. I also loved the touch screen, the rotary dial selector for things like navigation and entertainment, the electric tilting and telescoping steering wheel, the rain sensing wipers and the automatic opening trunk (stand behind the car with key fob in your purse, and voila, it opens).
Also a great addition for the price is the safety technology including blind spot monitors, lane departure assistance (nudges you back into lane if you veer off course), adaptive cruise control and park assist. Luxury appointments include the leather interior, heated and cooled seats and the panoramic sun roof. All this alone can add thousands to the price of a mid-priced or a luxury car, and not all those features are even available on many cars. Genesis has considered deeply how to pamper and please its passengers.
Speaking of passengers, back seat passengers will be happy. There is plenty of leg room and amenities include air vents, window shades (there is a button to raise or lower the rear window shade, too) and heated seats. While there isn’t a USB port to connect back seat passengers phones, they can plug into the port in the front seat or connect via Bluetooth so everyone can listen to their music. If your kids are like mine, they do this before you know what’s happened and they pirate the radio.
Genesis driving performance: Good, but poised to get better
Some drivers think of luxury cars as highly tuned, Auto Bahn-challenging, track-worthy beasts. Genesis isn’t quite there…yet. Expect future models, starting with the 2017 G 90, to roll out with larger engines and performance-tuned suspensions that will be tested alongside competitors.
But really, I have to wonder if all that is necessary. I just want a nice ride, and the Genesis easily provided that. With a larger V6 engine it had plenty of power, merged on the highway with confidence and glided over potholes and through construction zones with grace and ease. With the music off I could hear a low, satisfactory growl to the engine (though this is a pretty quiet sedan, so I had to listen for it). During our test drive we found the Genesis to be responsive and fun to drive, especially in sport mode and using the paddle shifters, which made a nice difference: Suddenly the car was a little quicker, the drive feel was a little tighter and I had just a little more fun.
Separation anxiety: Letting go of the Hyundai name isn’t all that easy
You know the Buffalo nickels that are so valuable, or the rare stamp that pictures an upside down airplane? Well, the 2016 Genesis may fall into that category as the last model to feature a Genesis logo on the front but the Hyundai logo on the tail. On the one hand, I look forward to the day when the Genesis is branded all on its own. But on the other hand, having the Hyundai endorsement, with its stellar reputation for quality and reliability, emblazoned right on the trunk makes me feel pretty confident in this new brand.
What We Loved
- Luxury appointments including leather seats with contrasting piping
- Panoramic sun roof
- Window shades (including a push button rear window shade)
- Head up display
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane departure assistance
- Speed limit displayed on the head up display and navigation screen
- Heated and cooled seats in front and back
- Auto opening trunk (with key fob in your handbag or pocket)
- Awesome Lexicon sound system
- The gorgeous profile of the car. It is truly beautiful.
What You Need to Know
- Base price: $38,500; price of the model we test drove: $53,100
- Fuel economy 16MPG city/25 MPG highway (we averaged about 17 MPG)
- All wheel drive—hence the MPG
- Premium fuel recommended
- 5 year/60,000 basic warranty
- 10 year/100,000 mile power train warranty
- Some of our favorite features are additional, including:
- Panoramic sun roof, sun shades and heated seats: $3900
- Safety technology including lane departure assistance: $3500
- Head up display, navigation and premium sound system: $3500
Disclosure: Genesis provided the loan for our test drive; all opinions expressed here are my own.