Hyundai has unveiled ambitious plans to take on the best from Europe and break the glass ceiling of premium brands with the launch of the Genesis sedan.
While the car is arriving in Australia in September, Hyundai New Zealand is delaying the launch here.
Hyundai NZ general manager Andy Sinclair said it would now arrive at the beginning of 2015.
He said tailoring the satellite-navigation system to New Zealand had taken longer than expected, and that the company would rather present the best possible product to customers than put it on sale early.
It would have been possible to start sales in December, Sinclair said, but admitted that launching a car during the holiday season was not ideal. But when it does arrive in New Zealand it will be showcasing the South Korean's latest technologies with a huge dose of opulence.
The Hyundai Genensis will arrive in New Zealand at the beginning of 2015.
Over the past two decades, Hyundai's quality and driveability have leapt ahead. Together with sister company Kia, the South Koreans are producing cars that offer value for money, good looks and technological appeal.
Step inside the Genesis and it's a perfect example of Hyundai progress. Without glancing at the external shape, you could easily think you were within the confines of a German machine.
All the telltale signs of a prestige offering are there, with electric functionality of everything and the analogue clock sitting central to the dash. The top-spec models have heating and cooling functionality in the front and outer rear seats, trimmed in soft Nappa leather with plastics limited to the base of the doors and areas that are seldom touched.
Some of our sample machines had dual-colour screens in the back with controls in the fold-down armrest that also had two pop-out cupholders.
Accommodation is expansive enough for five adults, but two in the back is the most appropriate fit.
In the front there is a pair of cupholders, well laid-out buttons with two 12-volt plugs, along with a USB and auxiliary port. Storage is well planned with a large centre console that has a two-stage opening.
There are no folding rear seats but there is a ski port, along with a sizeable boot that can handle several suitcases, and three child-seat anchorage points accessed on the rear parcel shelf.
The Genesis will be offered exclusively with a 3.8-litre V6 engine, partnered to an automatic eight-speed rear-wheel drive transmission.
While there is a smaller six and a V8 available, right-hand drive availability is limited. And if our experience in South Korea proved anything during our drive, it is a genuine prestige competitor.
The left-hand drive offerings boasted Lexus-like cabin quietness and linear-powered delivery from the bent six with a nice soundtrack accompanying each prod of the right foot. Crossing South Korea on a range of highways and challenging mountain roads, the suspension settings were on the soft side but our models will be tweaked by ride and handling specialists.
The interior of the Hyundai Genesis. Photo / Supplied
Standard equipment should include cruise control, dual-zone air-con, heated front seats and leather trim. Top-shelf variants will come with all the latest gadgetry like a jet-fighter-style head-up display that projects information such as speed and sat-nav directions on to the windscreen just below the driver's eyeline; dual backseat monitors; and a Lexicon 17-speaker sound system (the same brand used in the Rolls-Royce Phantom) with 23cm colour screen.
Safety should incorporate nine airbags and the usual suite of technological aids that are expected to deliver a five-star safety rating, but top spec models will also come with blind-spot monitoring, around-car monitoring courtesy of four cameras, lane assist and radar cruise control.
On the wing-shaped grille, there is a distinct luxurious familiarity to the design. While not groundbreaking, it certainly walks the prestige walk.
Hunkered down with dual tailpipes, it has an aura of pedigree and this is an insight to what Hyundai vehicles will look like approaching the next five to 10 years. The LED running lights grab attention on the road along with the contrasting lines.
The biggest question is whether those shopping in the prestige, image-conscious world will part with big bucks for a Hyundai.
Brand power is pivotal and while the Genesis wears its own badge (like a cross between Aston Martin and Bentley), the Hyundai flying "H" logo will be featured on the boot. That could work for and against the carmaker ... and only time will tell if it's the right decision.
I liked the refined finishes and quiet ride, and mature and executive exterior lines, but I'd like to see less woodgrain inside, Genesis badges all round rather than the flying "H", and improved fuel consumption over the current 11.2 litres per 100km.