Social climbers: Hyundai Genesis vs Lexus GS

6 Mar, 2015 11:15am

Hyundai’s new Genesis and the Lexus GS aim to shake up the exec elite. Do they make the grade?

For decades, the executive saloon class has been dominated by upmarket German cars. However, in recent years, a number of ambitious brands from outside Europe have attempted to cash in on this lucrative sector. 

Perhaps the boldest effort yet comes from Hyundai, which has just pulled the wraps off its latest Genesis saloon. Already a familiar sight in its native Korea and the US, the luxury four-door has now made its way on to UK soil for the first time.

Best executive cars

Featuring a roomy interior, an extensive list of standard kit, a powerful V6 engine and suspension specifically tuned for British roads, the newcomer certainly has all the bases covered. And with an eye-watering price tag of £47,995, it demands to be taken seriously.

One of the few non-European makers to have cracked the executive market is Lexus. Its hybrid-powered GS models deliver class-leading emissions and build quality, they’re refined, comfortable and well equipped. 

So, do either of our contenders have what it takes to make buyers sidestep the executive elite?

Hyundai Genesis review

Lexus GS review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which alternative executive car comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Back seats

The Hyundai’s wheelbase is 155mm longer than the Lexus’, making for more rear legroom. However, both cars feature a front passenger seat with a ‘chauffeur’ function that allows those in the back to remotely move it forward to create more room, a rear bench that slides and reclines for extra comfort. Our duo also feature standard heated rear seats, but only the Genesis has a cooling function. 

Customer service

Lexus came top of our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey for dealer service, so your car should be in safe hands when it goes in for a check-up. Hyundai’s sales network finished in 13th, but as only seven dealers will be authorised to sell the Genesis, customer care should be excellent.

Sounding off

Both our contenders get high-end sound systems as standard. The Hyundai’s 500W 14-speaker unit is produced by Lexicon, while the Lexus has an 835W Mark Levinson set-up with 7.1 digital surround sound. Interestingly, both hi-fi brands are owned by American company Harman International.

Verdict

1st place: Lexus GS

The GS 450h costs more to buy than the Genesis and doesn’t come as well equipped, but it’s a more polished performer and its hybrid powerplant delivers significant savings. It’s also beautifully finished, refined, spacious and is backed by one of the best dealer networks around. It still lags behind the best European models, but is an attractive and accomplished alternative for buyers who don’t want to follow the herd.

2nd place: Hyundai Genesis

You can’t fault Hyundai’s ambitions, and the new Genesis proves that the brand is capable of rivalling upmarket makers for quality and hi-tech kit. However, the car lacks the sophisticated driving experience that’s expected in this class, and by aping European design cues, it doesn’t have any real identity. The good news is that this car’s quality and kit will filter down to more affordable models.

Key specs:

Lexus GS 450h PremierHyundai Genesis
On the road price/total as tested£51,495/£52,105£47,995/£47,995
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£16,427/31.9%N/A/N/A
Depreciation£35,068N/A
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£2,155/£4,130£3,280/£6,559
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,914/£3,191£2,942/£4,904
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost42/£548/F/£14542/£469/M/£500
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£275/£445/£275Free (5yrs/100k)
Length/wheelbase4,850/2,855mm4,990/3,010mm
Height/width1,455/1,840mm1,480/1,890mm
EngineV6/elec motor/3,456ccV6/3,778cc
Peak power/revs341/6,000 bhp/rpm311/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs352/4,500 Nm/rpm397/5,000 Nm/rpm
TransmissionCVT/rwd8-spd auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel66 litres/foam77 litres/space saver
Boot capacity451 litres493 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,825/510kg1,890/580kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/0.27Cd11.4 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs5yrs (unltd)/5yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/5120,000 miles (1yr)/7
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.4th/1st18th/13th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/AN/A
0-60/30-70mph5.9/5.2 secs6.4/5.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.0/5.7 secs3.4/4.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th8.0/11.1/14.1/15.7 secs5.6/7.1/10.7/14.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph155mph/1,500rpm150mph/1,750rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph48.6/35.9/9.1m45.9/34.0/8.6m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph63/43/57/67dB59/39/57/65dB
KinyuKinr econ (mpg/mpl)/range30.8/6.8/447 miles20.0/4.4/339 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined42.2/51.4/46.3mpg18.0/32.8/25.2mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined9.3/11.3/10.2mpl4.0/7.2/5.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket212/141g/km/21%326/261g/km/35%
Airbags/Isofix/HUD/camera10/yes/yes/yesSeven/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/adap. cruise ctrlYes/yes/£3,350Yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/climate seatsYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/sunroof£610/yes/£1,000Yes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes