GoAuto: TheMAG 1/25/2008
GoAuto TheMAG ... Current Issue
By DAVID HASSALL
HYUNDAI turned a few heads at the Detroit motor show when it revealed
its new Genesis flagship model – a car that will take on the Commodore-based
Pontiac G8, among others, in the United States. Claimed to be the first genuine European standard saloon built in Korea, the Genesis will use price to cut into the American market, but there is still a feeling that Australians are not yet ready for the concept of a Korean luxury car.
The Genesis sedan features rear-wheel drive and the range-topping model will be powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine that propels it to 100km/h in less than six seconds. It is around the same length and height as a Commodore, but about 3.5cm narrower. Although priced between about $50,000 and $70,000 in Korea, Hyundai North America said the Genesis will sell from under $34,000 in the US when it goes on sale in June.
Hyundai Australia sales and marketing director Kevin McCann told GoAuto in August that Australia was not yet ready for a Hyundai that would cost more than $50,000 here and had therefore not requested right-hand drive
production. “We are in a different position here than we are in the US, where there is a different brand position,” he told us at that time.
Earlier, company chief executive Steve Yeo had said that the business case for Genesis would not stack up, based on the company’s experience
with the slow-selling $43,000 Grandeur.
In an official statement issued in the wake of the Detroit reveal, Mr McCann left the door slightly ajar, but certainly not for the shortterm.
“The Genesis is … a very exciting prospect for Hyundai. If we were to launch it in Australia, it would be post-2009,” he said. Two months ago, Hyundai also revealed a Genesis two-door coupe built on the same rear-drive platform. That car is expected to replace the Tiburon and will come to Australia in 2009.
Hyundai claims that it used the Mercedes E-class, BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS as the engineering benchmarks for the Genesis program, which is the company’s first using rear-wheel drive. The company claims that torsional rigidity is 12 to 14 per cent higher than its rivals while having a lighter body, thanks to the use of adhesive seams in addition to traditional spot welds.
Genesis is manufactured at a new purposebuilt facility at the company’s Ulsan plant in South Korea and will carry a five-year/100,000km powertrain warranty in addition to the regular three-year warranty.
In addition to Korea and the US, Genesis will be sold in China and the Middle East, with exports in 2009 expected to account for 45,000 of a total 80,000 production.
Entry level models will be powered by a choice of two existing Hyundai V6 engines – a 200kW 3.3-litre version and a 3.8-litre developing 220kW – but the big interest is in the all-new V8. The so-called ‘Tau’ quad-cam 4.6-litre
V8, which will not be available until later in the year, will produce an estimated 275kW (about the same as Holden’s 6.0-litre V8) and 439Nm of torque (against 530Nm).
Hyundai said it is considering larger V8 displacements and even forced induction – supercharging or turbocharging – in the future. Both V6s are mated to an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, but a stronger ZF
six-speed auto with sequential manual shifting will be employed for the V8.
“While Genesis will compete for customers with cars like the Chrysler 300 and Pontiac G8, our engineering benchmarks were Mercedes E-class, Infiniti M and Lexus GS,” said Hyundai North America vice president of product planning
John Krafcik. “Genesis provides a potent combination of performance, luxury and value. We think it has the opportunity to be an extremely disruptive force in the large sedan and nearluxury segments.”
Among the car’s features are eight airbags, eight parking sensors, a power rear sunshade, automatic electronic parking brake, push-button start, electronic stability control, SatNav, adaptive headlights, radar-based active cruise control, 500-watt 17-speaker sound system, active head restraints, leather interior and heated and cooled front seats.
Hyundai chairman and CEO Chung Mong-Koo said in Seoul that the Genesis
program represents a $600 million investment by the South Korean company.
“Genesis is the pride of Hyundai technology and symbolises our determination to enter the highly competitive arena of luxury cars now dominated by the Europeans,” he said. “Genesis will consolidate our position as the leader of the Korean auto industry and will pave the way forward for our leap into
the global market.”