It is, in a word, gorgeous. But don’t simply focus on the visuals, for Hyundai’s 2015 Genesis – in 5.0 V8 guise or the more pedestrian V6 – has much more going for it (and for its purchase) than simply sheetmetal. Instead, it enjoys a depth of engineering and preponderance of features rare at any level, and a confluence of design and technology that seemingly overwhelms what we know as a Hyundai showroom. And therein, Dear Reader, lies the rub: Hyundai’s 2015 Genesis belongs in a conversation of excellent sedans, credible design and incredible technology. Regrettably, it no longer belongs at a Hyundai dealership.
Of course, the earlier Genesis and its follow-up, the Hyundai Equus, really didn’t belong on a Hyundai showroom, either. But the first Genesis sedan (the Genesis coupe is less relevant to Hyundai, and certainly not relevant to these observations) was saddled with derivative styling (think M-B) and less-than-stellar spec; not so this new one. The Genesis’ redesign for 2015 makes a contemporary statement that owes as much to Hyundai’s managerial commitment as it does to any one existing design. We saw – perhaps – a little bit of Ford Focus in its contours and stance (dubbed by Hyundai as ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’…really), but the Genesis is much more impactful, and enjoys a rear-wheel drive proportion (along with appropriately short front and rear overhangs) the Focus owner could only wish for – and never realize.
If you can get past the oh-so-elegant sheetmetal, know you’ll be served equally well by the interior’s design and execution. What Hyundai describes as a spacious, comfortable ambience is just that, helped in no small way by comfortable, supportive seating that holds you in place but – notably – doesn’t ‘suck’ you in place. The interior is ‘user-centric’ (from Hyundai), and we were mightily impressed by its combination of space and intimacy, along with a truly intuitive take on controlling the available technology. Audio and ventilation controls can actually be understood without reading the owner’s manual (although if you want to peruse the manual Hyundai provides you several hundred pages for your reading pleasure).
Of course, if you enjoy the exterior and interior designs of the new Genesis, know that Hyundai hasn’t given similar attention to its retail space. To be sure, today’s Hyundai showroom is far removed from the one-time service station where you might have bought a Renault, Fiat or Isuzu. It is, instead, a showroom and service area fully appropriate to Hyundai’s competitive segment, i.e., Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Kia. It is not, however, in any way, shape or form competitive with the Genesis/Equus segment, identified by most industry observers as Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and the Germans.
In the business histories of Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and Audi, senior management of Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen worked long and hard on business models which fully separated these upmarket divisions from their lesser corporate siblings. Perception is, all too often, reality, and the reality of a luxury customer descending into the retail pit that is all-too-often the domain of the volume sellers is akin to Kate Middleton chasing K-Mart’s Blue Light Special. In a word, it shouldn’t happen – and it ain’t gonna’ happen.
For Hyundai to generate sales fully appropriate to this new Genesis, a better business model needs to be built. As reported recently by industry pub Automotive News, at least one Hyundai dealer, Burns Hyundai in Marlton, New Jersey, has opened a private lounge to supplement Hyundai’s already-established concierge service for Genesis and Equus customers. And while Burns’ initiative is likened to the luxury environs offered to the business clientele of major airlines, know that the business flier didn’t invest upwards of $50K in that airline ticket, a fact that tends to mollify his or her entering the airport thru the same TSA regimen you and I do.
A few years ago I purchased a Subaru Forester from a Cadillac/Subaru dual in Southern California. And despite Subaru owners enjoying one of the highest purchaser demographics in these United States, the management at Resnick Cadillac-Subaru in Fullerton, CA outfitted the Subaru waiting area in dark colors and enthusiast magazines, while the Cadillac digs were light, airy and given to golfing journals. The contrast was crazy, and while not driving a Caddy (Hell hasn’t frozen over, has it?) and preferring Car and Driver to Golf Digest, I hung with the Cadillac people, preferring light/airy to Subaru’s small, rather dark closet.
I guarantee you the Genesis/Equus prospect will also prefer light-and-airy, both in the transaction itself and his-or-her maintenance. Acura, Lexus and Infiniti have proven that a business model based on meeting (or exceeding) high expectations can succeed. The suits at Hyundai should get started…