Lexus GS300h 2014 review
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Lexus GS 300h.
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The Hyundai Genesis -- the latest of which will arrive in Australia after October this year -- has always aimed for its name to represent a new era for luxury. Previous models sold overseas offered an incredible value for a luxury car. But value for money can only go so far for the image-conscious. Hyundai is determined this time around to add "desire" to the Genesis, and we think it's gone a long way toward accomplishing this.
The company has the target buyer for the 2015 Hyundai Genesis tagged as "The Upgrader" - someone who either has a strong income but isn't rich yet, or someone who is less interested in status and more interested in good products... who wants to have a car that's luxurious but not too ostentatious.
Hyundai lists the primary competition for the Genesis as being the Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Cadillac CTS, while the secondary competition consists of the Lexus ES, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6. When you take into account Hyundai's anticipated product mix — of 85 percent of Genesis models being sold in the V6 trim we'll get here (the V8 and AWD will be built only in left-hand drive) - you can surmise that it aims more at the lower end of that rival set — with the ES 350, as well as models like the Chrysler 300 and possibly the Toyota Aurion and Nissan Maxima.
Those people are going to be absolutely wowed by the level of technology and active-safety features in the new Genesis. From automatic emergency braking and full stop-and-restart radar cruise control, to various other detection systems and an active lane departure and lane keep assist system that studies lane markings and will steer you along for 15 or more seconds before scolding you to get your hands back on the wheel, the Genesis now has an active-safety set (mostly) matching what's offered on German luxury sedans.
That's not all, however. The new rack-mounted electric power steering system is the best of any Hyundai we've ever driven — and among the best of what's offered in models more on the comfort side of the luxury-sedan realm.
The 248kW/396Nm 3.8-litre V6 had plenty of zip to move the sedan quickly — with an immediacy and linearity you won't find in the downsized, turbocharged engines from some of the German brands (albeit with less torque down low)— and the eight-speed automatic grabbed the right gear promptly.
The Genesis remains an interesting Act Two in that Hyundai doesn't seem any more willing (or decisive) in how to badge this car. They've again opted to skip the Hyundai badging entirely in front — which brings to mind the Oldsmobile Aurora. Meanwhile, the Genesis badge on the front of the hood and on the steering wheel is looking more Bentley than ever; we see loads of Audi influence straight on from the front; there's some Mercedes in the headlamps; and we doubt the proportions from the side wouldn't be as they are without BMW precedent.
Ride quality in the 3.8-litre V6 models is excellent; Hyundai has also (with some help from Lotus, who gave input and advice) managed to give the Genesis the kind of supple yet firm ride that's also eluded it otherwise. Throw it harder than most owners might into a tight corner, and this car has remarkably neat body control for an 1800kg-plus sedan. The 3.8 Ultimate we spent the most time with would bite into each corner with more enthusiasm, and the car as a whole felt more balanced.
The steering is very well tuned, with a light and precise but settled feel on centre, and weighting that gathers convincingly around tight corners. The rack itself is of the mechanically variable-ratio type, which gives this big sedan the right kind of nudge it needs at times.
Inside, the Genesis makes its own interior statement, and while materials and trims—including the beautiful matte-wood finish used for the dash and doors—are attractive, the rotary-knob infotainment controller feels closer to that used by Mazda on several of its models than what's employed by Audi (MMI) and BMW (iDrive). You won't find anything capacitative, for better or worse.
Up close, the Genesis adds up to even more value and charm than you might think — and it's far more enjoyable to drive than we anticipated. The Genesis will remain, to some skeptics, a delusion of grandeur. Even into its second generation, you can catch it at times pretending it's bigger than it is. On the other hand, the Genesis lets you play the game, and it could cast you as smarter.
Put the brand blinders on, however you might do that, and the Genesis shines. If you're okay forgoing the pedigree, the heritage, and the cachet of the three-pointed star or the big 'L' on your vehicle, and you really do gauge your car ownership by a sweet spot between nuanced luxury, comfort, value, and overall sensibility, then the Genesis is that sweet spot.
|(base)||3.8L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$17,900 – 24,860||2015 Hyundai Genesis 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|(Sensory Pack)||3.8L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$19,400 – 27,060||2015 Hyundai Genesis 2015 (Sensory Pack) Pricing and Specs|
|(Ultimate Pack)||3.8L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO||$27,000 – 35,750||2015 Hyundai Genesis 2015 (Ultimate Pack) Pricing and Specs|
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