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First look: Hyundai’s new global flagship

Super-size me: Luxury Genesis rivals Commodore for size and performance, but is unlikely to come to Australia.

Production G8-rivalling Genesis rear-drive sedan revealed ahead of Detroit debut

9 Jan 2008

HYUNDAI today revealed photos and details of 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 was revealed ahead of next week’s official unveiling at the Detroit auto show.

It 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 today, Mr McCann left the door slightly ajar, but certainly not for the short-term.

“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 which 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.

1 center imageThe 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 purpose-built 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 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 near-luxury 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 today 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.”

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