So why does Hyundai have a premium, E-segment car, the Genesis? Isn’t it a brand best associated with stylish, value-oriented products? Maybe that was once the case. But not, necessarily, now.
According to Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America, the rationalization is fairly straightforward:
1. To expand market coverage. What OEM doesn’t want to have greater market share?
2. To have on offer a car that is packed full of technological content (from advanced Blue Link 2.0 telematics to adaptive cruise control), premium features (leather, LED lamps), and performance capability (a 311-hp V6 with available all-wheel-drive to a 420-hp V8) at a price that is targeted at post-recession consumers who are more interested in value than an established luxury logo (at a starting point of $38,000 for the 3.8-liter V6 version [it goes up to $51,500 for the V8], this value proposition is compared with the likes of the Cadillac CTS 2.0T @ $45,100; the Lexus GS 350 @ $47,000; the Infiniti Q70 3.7 @ $49,500; the BMW 528i @ $49,500; and the Mercedes E350 @ $51,900).
3. To have a halo car. There is the Equus above the Genesis (F-segment), which is more premium, but as the Genesis is all-new, there is a bit more radiance to the vehicle in the showroom.
Genesis has been—its first generation was a 2009—an attractor of non-Hyundai owners (e.g., Lexus ES, Mercedes E-Class, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry), accounting for about 55% of the inflow. (The remainder: Hyundai owners.)
So while things like the Elantra (2014 deliveries according to Autodata: 247,912) and the Sonata (203,648 deliveries) may be the proverbial bread- and-butter of the brand, the Genesis (32,330) is undoubtedly an important element in growing its franchise in the U.S. market.
The 2015 Genesis was primarily styled at Hyundai Design North America in Irvine, CA. Hyundai introduced its “Fluidic Sculpture” design language on the 2011 Sonata. With the Genesis, it is now, says design manager John Krsteski, using “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0.”
Krsteski says that one of the reasons for the first-gen Fluidic Sculpture was to get people to “pay attention” to Hyundai. Its previous design executions had been those of a “fast follower,” so the designs of the cars were, by and large, not as noticeable due to the fact that other OEMs already had products in the market with the shapes and forms. So by creating the creased and flowing Fluidic Sculpture vehicles— which went from Sonata to Elantra and so on—Hyundai would establish more physical presence in the market. “We wanted a lot of consumers with little or no familiarity with our brand to take notice of our car,” Krsteski notes.
Now that that’s been accomplished they’ve moved on to the next level, refining the fluidics. Rather than con- tinuing with the broad gestural lines, they’re using precision and detail, Krsteski says. He describes it as “a refined fluidic aesthetic. It is less of a line-based approach, and more volume-based.”
What’s more, they’re creating more commonality. He cites the grille, for example. The previous generation Genesis and Sonata have wing-shaped grilles; the Elantra has more of a hexagon. So they’ve essentially melded the two together. “The previous car,” Krsteski says, “has a nice front end, but it’s a bit passive. One of the things we really wanted to push was a proud presentation of the new grille shape.”
The 2015 model has almost exactly the same exterior dimenions as the 2014:
Note how the wheelbase is stretched even though the overall length of the car is only upped a visually undiscernible amount. “The added wheelbase helped us pull the cabin rearward for the classic proportions of a long hood and an increased dash to axle.” He says that this helps telegraph the message that this is a powerful rear-drive car.
The faster C-pillar emphasizes the car’s sportiness. Around back, he notes that the exhaust outlets are pushed as far to the sides as possible to provide a solid stance, and, again, to emphasize that this is a powerful rear-drive car. Krsteski points out that the LED tail lamps have plenty of precision detail. (In the front, there are standard LED indicators and fog lamps.)
On the inside of the car, “it feels bold and stately,” Krsteski says. There is natural wood, leather, and real-metal trim.
As mentioned, the V6 version of the car is available with an all-wheel drive (AWD) system, which is new to the Genesis. (It was developed with Magna Powertrain. It uses an electronic transfer case with active torque control. In normal operation, the torque split is 40/60. Depending on road conditions it can send as much as 100% of the torque front or rear.) One consequence of offering the AWD was the need to redesign and reengineer the platform to accommodate it. Mike O’Brien, vp of Corporate & Product Planning, says that this all new platform, which shares no parts with the previous, makes an extensive use of high-strength steels: 72% of the body-in-white. Moreover, 51.5% of the body-in-white is advanced high-strength steels. The torsional stiffness (104kgf-m2/rad) is 39.4; the bending stiffness (102kgf/mm) is 11.6. The numbers for the BMW 5-Series, it’s pointed out, are 30.2 and 9.3, with higher being better.
A big contributor to the rigidity is the use of structural adhesives between sheet metal parts that are also spot welded. The 2014 Genesis has 84.5m of structural adhesives. The 2015 model has 123 m. (And as the BMW 5 series was used in the preceding paragraph for comparison: it has 90 m of structural adhesives.)
One place where aluminum has replaced steel in the chassis is for the shock-absorber housing. Previously, it consisted of 22 steel parts that were assembled. It weighed 40.8 lb. The new one is, O’Brien says, a high-pressure aluminum die casting. It is now two pieces instead of 22, and there is a mass savings, down to 26.2 lb.
And as previously mentioned, the 2015 Genesis is available with either a 5.0-liter, 420 hp GDI V8 or a 3.8- liter, 311-hp V6. Both are mated to a Hyundai-developed eight-speed automatic that allows selectable Eco, Normal, Snow, and Sport drive modes. While the engines and transmission are carryovers, O’Brien points out that they have been refined for the new application to provide better performance.
Safety was an area of focus for the car. This is manifest in a number of ways. For example, to handle front small-overlap collisions, they laser weld front frame extensions that are used to channel the load forces. There is an extensive use of available sensor technology, such as an automatic emergency braking system, which uses radar from the adaptive cruise control and a front camera from the lane departure warning system to determine whether there is an unsafe closing rate with another vehicle. Should that be detected then at speeds from 5 to 50 mph, it will provide full braking; it’s partial braking up to 112 mph.
One interesting safety tech—said to be a world’s first—is a cabin CO2 sensor. The sensor is located under the glove box. It measures the concentration of CO2 that has built up in the cabin. They’ve determined that if levels reach in excess of 2,000 parts per million, drivers can become drowsy. So the sensor will activate the ventilation system if needed to bring fresh air into the cabin to counteract drowsiness.