As of today, Europe has an all-new car brand - Genesis. It’s old news elsewhere in the world, though - Hyundai‘s luxury division was first spun off as a separate entity in 2015, producing its first fully standalone car a couple of years later.
Genesis products have been available in North America for a little while now, but only now is Hyundai trying to succeed with its posh offshoot across the pond where Nissan failed with Infiniti. The Korean carmaker has tried to go upmarket before here before, though, with some pretty disastrous results.
For a while, ‘Genesis’ referred to a Hyundai model rather than a separate brand. The first came around in 2008, replaced with a second-generation model in 2013. In 2015 Hyundai brought that car to Europe, charging £48,000 for it in the UK.
British buyers are bigger badge snobs than most, so a near-£50k asking price for something with ‘Hyundai’ written on the boot lid was an immediate stumbling block. To make matters worse, the sole engine option was a 3.8-litre naturally-aspirated V6, in a market dominated by diesels at the time. The Genesis was well built but generic to look at both inside and out, yielding a paltry score of two stars out of five when our colleagues at Auto Express reviewed it.
In two years, Hyundai only sold 50 of the things here. Yes, fifty, during a period when BMW sold about 40,000 units of the 5-series on our shores. Back then, Hyundai was said to be (understandably) reticent to have another crack at luxury cars in the UK. Sure enough, when the car was facelifted and renamed the ‘Genesis G80’, it stayed away.
Given such lowly sales figures, the classifieds aren’t exactly brimming with evidence of Hyundai’s failed experiment. This white 2015 example on Gumtree seems to be one of only two for sale in the whole country. Each one plummeted in value the moment it left the showroom, meaning this Genesis is up for £14,800, about a third of the original on-the-road price.
That isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, however. The depreciation on these has long since levelled off, so a £15k Genesis isn’t as much of a bargain as we’d like, particularly when an Audi A7 with a similar mileage can be bought for not much more. Had Hyundai been even more misguided and imported the 5.0-litre V8 version of the Genesis, we might be more tempted.
As it is, though, there is a certain left-field luxobarge appeal to the old Genesis. But how about the new G80? That should prove more tempting to the mainstream crowd, with a much more distinctive design and some inline-four diesel and petrol engines to go along with a turbo V6. And yes, ditching the Hyundai badge should help. We’re intrigued to see how Genesis’ European assault pans out.