Hyundai broke into the US market with entry-level pricing, just as Ford, GM, and Chrysler effectively abandoned the segment. Fortunately for Hyundai, the Excel was a sales success for the brand. Unfortunately for owners of the Excel, it created the joke that Hyundai stood for “Hope you understand nothing’s drivable and inexpensive.” To cut a long story short, Hyundai has spent a lot of time and money changing that perception by building better cars. The tipping point for Hyundai was the 2001 Tiberon, which was a sporty coupe that had both decent power and build quality. That paved the way for an unlikely car – the Hyundai Genesis.
In the same way that the Lexus LS400 showed that Japanese brands could do luxury, the Hyundai Genesis showed that the South Korean brands were capable of building a premium sports sedan. Moreover, Hyundai created the Genesis Coupe to show it could do an upmarket and engaging sports coupe as well. The two cars’ surprise success and consumer demand for the Genesis name led Hyundai to spin it off into a stand-alone luxury brand that with products like the Genesis G90, is now going toe-to-toe with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus.