DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: We journalists are guilty of wondering out loud who’d ever pay $55,000 for a Hyundai, given the brand consciousness (read: status obsession) of luxury car buyers. That argument still holds. However, it occurs to me there also may be a subset of the car-buying population on the other side of the equation, a group who’s glad they can finally purchase a capable, powerful luxury sedan without having to subject themselves to the extortion practiced by German, and to some extent, Japanese, automakers.

Consider that a BMW 550i sedan starts $10,000 above where our loaded Genesis 5.0 tops out. Two years ago, the comparison would have ended there, but this new Genesis is a much closer match for the Mercedes-Benz E-class, 5-series and Audi A6 than anyone in Germany would likely care to admit.

My biggest complaint on the previous Genesis was a lack of stability at high speeds -- even freeway speeds -- and overly sensitive steering. Basically any kind of convincing German sedan impression it did fell apart as soon as the car was over 40 mph. Not so this new one. It’s perfectly stable at freeway velocity and offers the supreme confidence one gets at higher speeds from the best Autobahn-tuned vehicles.

Thanks to the hugely entertaining Tau V8 engine, the Genesis has no trouble getting up to said speeds, and it makes a lovely growl on the way there. Shifts happen, but not in any way you’d notice (unless sport mode is punched up, when the car holds gears longer) and the experience is full luxury sports-sedan proper...at least until one needs to stop. The brakes aren’t bad, but there’s a long pedal travel, and our Genesis didn't really bite until halfway down, leading to some initial drama.

The interior also lives up to the car’s luxury billing -- yes, leather and soft touch materials are everywhere, but more significant is the car's silence. It is QUIET in the Genesis; Hyundai has sealed out wind noise, road noise, tire noise, even with the moonroof sunshade open. Again, though, there's one element that doesn’t fit: the rotary controller for the infotainment system (Hyundai’s version of the iDrive knob) looks nice, but it’s a chintzy blow-molded plastic material that feels cheap to the touch. That Hyundai would spend so much time, effort and money on every interior surface and then give such a critical touchpoint econobox quality is maddening.

Still, it’s here: the giant-killer Hyundai luxury sedan many have been predicting. That it came in the form of the Genesis and not the upmarket Equus is a bit surprising, but any question that the Koreans can go toe to toe with the Germans and Japanese has been rendered moot. Note that I’m not suggesting the Genesis will actually kill any of those giants in the marketplace; it still may take another generation or two before consumers fully embrace a Hyundai luxury car. But if Hyundai can stick it out, consumers are bound to find out just how good the Genesis is.   

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan is a good car, period.

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Agreed. This 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 is a terrific midsize luxury sedan. Not just a terrific midsize luxury sedan for Hyundai, a terrific midsize luxury sedan period -- competitive with the Germans and the Cadillac CTS.

This is a smooth, quite fast sedan. Also a remarkably quiet one at all speeds.

The interior appears top notch -- good quality, nicely arranged, comfortable seats, serene.

The V8’s 420 hp: I remember as a kid in my family’s Dodge Plymouth dealership the Hemi Cudas and Chargers and such had 425 hp, a remarkable figure in those days, a magic number to us kids; and here’s this sedan with damn close to it. The power is smooth and the shifts imperceptible. The chassis feels rock solid and the car traverses Detroit roads quietly and smoothly. Driving this car is calming, and sometimes after a long day, that’s what you need.

I disagree with the above that there “may” be buyers glad to be able to afford a car of this ilk. I think there definitely is that group. No maybes about it. It might be small now, but it is growing and will continue to. Yes, the BMW 550i starts $10,000 above this car, and the Mercedes-Benz E550 is $6,000 higher. You can’t get a Cadillac CTS or Audi A6 with a V8, but a CTS with a twin-turbo V6 starts $5K higher.

This Hyundai is a smokin’ deal, in other words. But finally, it’s more than that. It’s a good car, period.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan isn't going to kill off any of the luxury heavyweights from Mercedes, Audi or BMW.

SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: I absolutely wonder who would shell out this amount of money for a Hyundai. It’s not out of a sense of incredulousness, however; mostly I’m curious as to how the Korean company’s reputation has evolved among civilians, i.e., non-auto journalists. I mean, it really wasn’t that long ago that the very word Hyundai (“Like Sunday,” which, as a semi-speaker of Korean, rankles me to no end, but that’s on me) was said with disdain, a wrinkled nose or a bit of a chuckle at its trailing edge (as in Hyundai-he-he).

Apparently some 2,250 people thought enough of the Genesis to purchase one last month -- and that was the old model, with its snooze-inducing sheetmetal and equally dull interior. How many of which were of this variety, fully dressed and stuffed with V8 power (with a sticker north of $50K), is hard to parse from the sales data provided by our sister pub, Automotive News; regardless, that represents almost one and a half as many grabs as Audi can boast of its A6/S6 or Lexus of its GS. Once the buying public gets a load of this new Genesis, I expect the Mercedes-Benz E-class (almost 4,900 units sold in September) will have a true contender on its hands.

Or it should have. I do not underestimate the sway brand has over people, such that being able to say, “I drive a Benz” is more important than the actual experience of driving said Benz to many, many folk. Maybe most. I suspect the cultural currents have been flowing a little more in Hyundai’s favor of late, as evidenced by those Auto News numbers (and rightly so, given the quality of Hyundai’s work), and the rollout of this new -- and fantastic -- Genesis will continue that momentum. But I can’t see a car like the Genesis ever attaining E-class status, no matter what. An overstuffed jacquard Coach wristlet boldly emblazoned with the brand’s signature C carries more capital than a sensibly sized satchel by, oh, Big Buddha. That’s just the way things are, to quote “Babe.”

2014 Audi S6 review notes

ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Ah, yes, the Audi S6. It’s hard to complain about spending a weekend with the hotter version of this luxury midsize sedan (I’m still waiting for a really ...

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan is remarkably quiet at all speeds.

ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: No, this new Genesis sedan isn’t going to kill off any of the luxury heavyweights from Mercedes, Audi or BMW. We can sit here and compare features and all the equipment you get in this Hyundai and talk about what a stellar value it is in comparison to the Germans, which it certainly is. Just check out the standard features list on this 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0:  12-way power front seats that are both heated and cooled, navigation, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking assist and Bluetooth. Our test car’s optional ultimate package adds a heads-up display, an upgraded Lexicon audio system, power trunk and an adaptive damping suspension system for $3,250, which, compared to the cost of the option packages you see on the German luxury cars, is more than reasonable.

But it’s still a Hyundai. A lot of people driving around Benzes, Bimmers and Audis don’t care so much about value, but instead put more stock in brand prestige. They’ll probably scoff and pay no attention to the Genesis. That’s too bad because it’s a really good car, as Wes says above. Is the interior up to German luxury car standards? Not quite, but it’s definitely in the ballpark, with great-looking genuine matte finish wood and aluminum trim. There are little details like the fabric-lined door panel pockets that show Hyundai has upped its attention to the details, and that’s important if a company wants to seriously play in the luxury car field. The only thing missing is a little more style to the cabin layout and the solidity of the controls when you press a button or turn a knob. Besides that, the leathers are soft and the rest of the materials look good.

The drivetrain is another thing going for the Genesis. The 5.0-liter V8 is smooth when you’re taking it easy with linear power delivery, and the transmission is also a slick operator. When you boot it, the V8 features a nice, low rumble and pushes the sedan forward in a hurry.

There’s a big leap forward in suspension tuning, which Hyundai struggled with in the past. Knowing that, Hyundai had some help from Lotus to tighten things up, and it shows both from the ride quality and cornering behavior. Instead of crashing over bumps, the suspension soaks up impacts up like a champ, and it’s a solid ride overall with no chop or slop. Steering is better and a far cry from the overboosted and lifeless-feeling systems in the past. Now there’s some weight tuned into it with a numb spot off center.

I agree with Andy -- the brakes stuck out with the amount of pedal travel and the effort it took to make them really grab. I don’t remember the brakes the previous Genesis with the 3.8-liter V6 and AWD being like that. Then again, the 5.0-liter RWD Genesis does weigh 246 pounds more than the V6 AWD so that may have something to do with it. Or maybe the brakes are in need of a bleeding?

Overall, the V8-powered Genesis is a great value, which isn’t surprising because that’s usually a given with Hyundai vehicles. In the past, there were some rather big trade-offs in ride quality, design and interior surroundings. With the new Genesis, it’s a good car even if you take the cost consideration out of equation. It has a distinctive front end design, a cushy interior that’s really quiet and a strong engine lineup. I’m not sure if it will set the sales charts on fire just because typical luxury shoppers will likely dismiss it from the jump because it’s a Hyundai, but with a good product people will eventually come. And the Genesis is a good product.

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan comes in at a base price of $52,450 with our tester topping off at $55,700.

WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: This 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 sedan is much nicer than the ones I drove many months ago in Korea. Back then, I was being hyper-sensitive, looking for every subtle nuance of ride, handling and luxury appointment. I spent time on handling tracks and what could loosely be described as a drag strip, sort of. The Genesis did well over there on Hyundai’s test track, accelerating quickly and quietly in a straight line if being somewhat less inspiring at full jounce and rebound on the handling course. Published 0-60 figures for the V8 put it in the low five-second range, which is fast enough for almost all suburban applications. And how often do mid- to full-size luxury sedan buyers ever really push their cars hard, anyway? OK, everybody in the BMWCCA pushes their cars hard, and some Audi sedan owners do. But the rest of the segment just cruises along listening to Wagner through their 800-speaker audio systems.

For this product loan, I just drove my Genesis 5.0 around Los Angeles the same way most owners would drive theirs. In that mode, in relaxed commuting, errand running and casual cruising, I really enjoyed it. There is so much room in this thing. Back seat passengers just threw their gear into the huge trunk, climbed right in their own doors and stretched out. Up front there is an equal amount of space. I liked the wood trim, which had raised grain. I liked the HMI (human-machine interface) on the dash -- it didn’t drive me crazy at all, unlike certain, OK all other manufacturers in this luxo-segment. I even liked, no loved, something as inconsequential as the seat belt chime, it was quiet and subtle, reminding me to buckle up without brow-beating me into doing it. The luxury experience was luxurious without foisting distractions disguised as features upon the owner/driver.

Have a look at what Hyundai hopes you will think of as the competition and you’ll see one big difference: cost. The RWD Genesis 5.0 I had here in California started at $52,450. With the “Ultimate” package, which included high-def navigation, a 17-speaker audio system and a few other things, it was $55,700. The BMW 550i with 4.4-liter turbo V8 and eight-speed automatic is $65,500. The Audi A6 3.0T Prestige quattro AWD with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and eight-speed auto is $61,025. The Mercedes E400 with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six mated to a seven-speed auto is $63,275. You can debate performance and features quite a bit among that heady list, and if cost was no object, we’d pick the Bimmer, but no matter how you slice it, the 420-hp direct-injection V8 Hyundai represents something of a deal. Assuming the sticker doesn’t go up as quickly as the first Lexus LS sedans did, price and pretty-close performance could be Hyundai’s aces in the hole. People who test drive these just might want to save 10 grand. If they do, they won’t be disappointed. 

The interior of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan lives up to the car's luxury billing.

ASSOCIATE WEST COAST EDITOR BLAKE Z. RONG: I drove this newest Genesis 5.0 to San Francisco from Los Angeles, and then around it. And I don’t think I could’ve found a better city car, even at its size -- a combination of power, smoothness, comfort, quietness, an overall feeling of effortlessness, and a turning radius that seemed to defy physics.

For one, the steering is as improved from the rest of Hyundai’s lineup as the Genesis is from the Pony. For quite possibly the first time in Hyundai history, it actually carries some genuine resistance, and actually imparts some weight: what a revelation, and what a 180 from the last one! Going up the 101 Freeway an arrow heading to the horizon, the Genesis felt solid and accurate. Around town, its feedback felt inconsistent: at some speeds it became flimsy, while regaining composure a few miles faster. But, hey! Little improvements. As long as it doesn’t feel like you’re spinning a Cruisin’ USA wheel with the power off, then any bit is an improvement.

The rumor with the Genesis is that Lotus secretly worked on the suspension, which made me wish there had been some “Handling by Lotus” badges thrown in. The ride is balanced and comfortable: no jostling, virtually no body roll, and hardly any loudness from freeway divots -- though some bumps sent a chorus of creaks across the dashboard.

Will the aforementioned Lotus connection continue? Will there be a 180-mph Lotus Genesis that will terrorize the British public? We don’t know, but the 5.0-liter V8’s 420 hp never feels outrageous, but it certainly shoves. If you hit the accelerator kickdown at the end of the pedal, the transmission downshifts maniacally; the resulting power is positively frenetic. At that point, it all feels a little unnecessary.

(Two notes of interest here. One: the 5.0 produces nearly 10 less hp than the last model. I couldn’t feel a mutiny of horses at all. And two: you’d think a $50,000 car would mandate premium fuel, but not only does the Genesis not care what you put in it, but Hyundai also lists expected horsepower for premium vs. regular. If you want to make only 407 hp, you can go ahead and feed it the rotgut bottom shelf stuff. As always, don’t expect to crack the 500-hp mark with jet fuel.)

Plenty of tech in this car, in that cut-rate manner Hyundai loves. The adaptive cruise control isn’t perfect: it sometimes gets flustered around corners, confused at oncoming traffic, and doesn't notice merging cars, which is really scary when there's a jerk with a turn-signal allergy halfway through cutting you off and the Genesis still hasn’t slowed down yet. The lane-keeping assist was so brilliantly demonstrated in a previous ad, but alas, that commercial involved some cheating: like almost any steering correction (except Infiniti’s), the Genesis will beep angrily at you if you don’t tug at the wheel every few seconds. To show that you’re still there and alive, see. If you ignore the warning, lane assist will get mad at you and call it quits. So, I shut it off. What good is self-steering if you can’t cross your arms and scare your passengers, right? Well, when I turned it back on again, I found that at night, when the road fades into reflections of lights, a gentle tug of the wheel underhand is reassuring.

Lastly, the styling is handsome, subdued, and slightly generic, the sort of rendering found on a car insurance billboard. It’d be a great car for unassuming hitmen -- whom, as far as I know, are all unassuming. It didn’t earn us any attention in San Francisco, nor did it earn any badge-snobbery ire. It’s stealth luxury as only the Koreans do it, even more innocuous than the Kia K900. Just as well -- there’s far less chrome on here.

Mark, who has driven this car on two continents, says it feels like an older BMW 5-series. I can see that. Having grown up with parents who still think a car should cost no more than $20,000, I never grew up around older, well-tuned German machinery. Since then, I’ve driven a few. And after driving this powerful, stealthy Genesis, I get it. 

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan is equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 pushing out 420 hp with 383 lb-ft of torque.

Options: Ultimate package including heads-up display, premium DIS navigation with 9.2-inch high definition display, Lexicon 17-speaker discrete Logic7 audio system, continuous dampening control suspension, power truck lid, dual-mode vent control with CO2 sensor ($3,250)

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