For much of its history, Hyundai was known as a manufacturer of cheap, uninspired vehicles that were widely underappreciated by much of the automotive community. However, the winds of change arrived at the 2007 New York International Auto Show when the brand revealed its Concept Genesis Premium Sports Sedan. The concept would prove to be a preview of the all-new Genesis sedan, which went on sale in the United States in June 2008 and extended the brand’s reach into luxury territory with premium packaging that included company firsts, such as a rear-wheel drive setup and optional 4.6-liter, 375 hp V8 engine.
Hyundai Motor Company took its next step forward this January when it showed off the 2015 Genesis at its 2014 North American International Auto Show press conference in Detroit. As an indication of how far the Korean brand has come in raising its profile, the second-generation sedan enjoyed a warm welcome and garnered applause from many of the attendees. After taking the market by storm over the past several years, Hyundai has drastically transformed its image in the eyes of consumers and status among its automotive peers, but instead of allowing itself to become complacent, the brand pressed on as it continues to push the envelope with its newest Genesis sedan.
When the Genesis first came to market, executives from Hyundai Motor Co. declared it was their expectation that upward of 50,000 units of the sedan and coupe versions combined would be achieved per year in the United States. The Hyundai vice president for product development in America at the time, John Krafcik, told reporters, “I think it’s reasonably achievable,” adding that deliveries of 20,000 sedans and 30,000 coupes a year were a possibility. While the coupe has not performed to the level required for the Genesis nameplate to reach the 50,000 unit mark, the sedan model has mostly held up its part of the bargain as it reached its target in 2012 by notching 22,071 registrations despite taking a few years to get there.
Although the company was unable to sustain its momentum with new registrations for the Genesis slipping to 18,095 units for 2013, expectations are that the upcoming successor will be able to reach new heights with its striking design and enhanced packaging. While the original sedan was created prior to the introduction of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design, the new car will debut the company’s new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 styling, with flowing lines that project elegance and class on the same level as leading premium brands. In keeping with the upgraded exterior, the quality of the interior was much improved as well and materials such as genuine wood, leather and aluminum were incorporated into the upscale design.
The general expectation of most premium automobiles is that new advancements in technology will make their way into the vehicle’s packaging and the Korean automaker was sure to add some innovations of its own into the upcoming Genesis. Hyundai’s CO2 sensor acts as a safety mechanism that detects when the CO2 concentration of exhaled gas surpasses 2,500 parts per million and will vent fresh air through the HVAC system to awaken a potentially drowsy driver. Also, another feature the company developed is one in which the vehicle senses when a person holding the proximity key is standing by the rear of the car for three seconds, automatically opening the trunk to assist when one’s hands are full.
As with many sport sedans, rear-wheel drive will remain standard, however, Hyundai will offer its new “HTRAC” all-wheel drive system as an option for the first time in the upcoming Genesis. With the volatile winter weather creating havoc across the United States over the past few months, all-wheel drive capability is at the forefront of many drivers’ minds and the Korean brand will be sure to capitalize with its newest drivetrain technology. Additionally, the trend for all-wheel drive vehicles appears to be positive these days as data from Cars.com shows inventory jumped nearly 20% in December 2013 year-over-year. The HTRAC system was designed with the vehicle’s handling ability in mind, however, as the amount of engine torque to the rear wheels can go from a default of 60% to as much as 90% when making aggressive maneuvers while sending upward of 90% of torque to the front wheels when very low traction is available. Fuel economy is also optimized when the car reaches a state of cruising by sending 100% of the power to the rear wheels, helping to counter some of the negative fuel consumption effects exhibited by many all-wheel drive systems.
Hyundai has done much to raise its profile in recent years and the Genesis has been a major driver of the company’s ascension since it first came to market in 2008. The next-generation model is undeniably improved as a premium sedan offering, going above and beyond what made it a success the first time around, and expectations are undoubtedly high for the new model. What makes the brand so compelling is its commitment to maintaining a true value position and the company is aiming to do just that by keeping the price of the upcoming sedan under $40,000. Hyundai’s first foray into the premium market took many automakers by surprise, but the brand is looking to make an even bigger statement this time around and the next-generation Genesis appears to be pulling no punches.