Hyundai offers upscale luxury vehicle

LOS ANGELES This new large sedan definitely gives off a luxury vibe. The front end and grille might remind you of a Mercedes-Benz, while the taillights mimic those of some current BMW models. Inside, the overall look, and even the details, suggest a Lexus.

But it's none of those upscale cars. This is a Hyundai. The new Genesis sedan breaks new ground for the Korean brand.

"Here you've got a vehicle that can give you a lot of those creature comforts and a smooth ride and plenty of power," said James Bell, "But then also be fiscally much more responsible."

The Genesis is a true luxury car, with all the ingredients for an upscale driving experience, including an optional V-8 engine.

The one thing you won't find on or in this car: the word "Hyundai." Only a simple badge that proclaims it the Genesis model, plus Hyundai's stylized "H" logo here and there.

It would seem that Hyundai doesn't necessarily want anyone to think of this premium-class car as a Hyundai.

"Hyundai's got a big reputation, impression job to build," said James Bell. "And so by leaving the name off, that might help them out."

One thing Hyundai is proud to display on the Genesis is the sticker price: from $33,000, to $42,000 with all the options -- a downright bargain in the luxury arena.

Will the Genesis attract luxury buyers who may be looking at a Lexus or Mercedes? Well ... maybe. But what this new Hyundai is more likely to do is raise the overall image of the entire Hyundai brand.

For example, the mid-size Hyundai Sonata has often been thought of as a bargain-bin alternative to the Accord and Camry, but now it might get some upscale cred.

"To know that you now have a line of vehicles that you can kind of aspire to, that's something Hyundai has never really had before," said Bell. "Especially when the Genesis coupe comes out later."

That coupe debuts next spring, and promises impressive performance, another attribute of upscale luxury brands. It will also be branded as a Genesis to complement the sedan.

If the Genesis line impresses enough people, the words "Hyundai" and "luxury" may end up no longer being mutually exclusive terms.



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