Hyundai will next year enter the luxury segment for the first time in New Zealand when it lands the Genesis sedan.
The carmaker believes the premium rear-drive four-door will forever change the way New Zealanders look at the South Korean brand, No. 4 on the 2013 top 10 list behind Toyota, Ford, and Holden.
The Genesis nameplate has been around since 2008 as a sedan and coupe, but only for left-hand-drive markets.
The next-generation model is being tooled for both sides of the road, although the two-door Genesis isn’t expected to be seen until 2016.
Hyundai NZ general manager Andy Sinclair confirmed the arrival here next August of the second-generation Genesis sedan.
“New Zealand will get the 3.8-litre V6 engine; the 5.0-litre V8 is still only available in left-hand drive,” he said.
The current Lambda V6 unit in Genesis delivers around 250kW and 395Nm to the rear wheels via a six-speed Aisin transmission. The new car is expected to run an eight-speed ‘box.
Sinclair cited the percentage of high-tensile steel in the 2014 Genesis as among the highest in the luxury sector.
“Fifty-one per cent of the car has high-tensile steel – we expect its crash test result to be very high.”
The first-generation Genesis received a five-star rating in every category from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
I drove a left-hand-drive Genesis in South Korea in 2008, months before Genesis entered the United States market.
It was a pre-production model. The fit and finish inside and out was outstanding but the ride and handling was mixed – cushy but vague on good surfaces, not so good on rougher roads where increased shock absorber and spring rate settings unsettled it.
At the time, Hyundai said it was going to aim Genesis in the US at Japan’s Lexus and Infiniti brands, but that it had benchmarked it during development against the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The production model was a hit in the US, winning a number of awards, including the North American Car of the Year in 2009. Hyundai has sold around 150,000 Genesis variants in the US since 2008, although the current model has been recalled for a brake fluid problem.
Next year’s Genesis (like most of the current crop of Hyundais) will have its suspension system tuned for typical New Zealand and Australian surfaces.
Hyundai has put much emphasis in recent years on driving dynamics. Prototypes of the 2014 Genesis have been seen testing at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, where Hyundai is developing a dedicated test centre.
Meanwhile, Hyundai goes into 2014 with an updated line-up for New Zealand, including thriftier direct-injection engines, suspension and equipment upgrades on Accent, Elantra, 140 wagon, and iX35 SUV.
The country’s best-selling small SUV, the iX35, benefits from a host of new features, including the variable Flexsteer steering system, and two new petrol engines delivering more power and torque.
The two- and four-wheel-drive iX35 is priced between $40,490 and $54,990.