2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD vs. Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD

One traditional and one ambitious alternative to upscale German sedans

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Mid-level luxury sedans are to working professionals what Toyota Camrys are to normal folks. They’re go-to vehicles and safe options for cash-laden customers who crave generous amenities, good performance, and the status of an upmarket brand. What does your child’s orthodontist drive?

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD vs. 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD

We bet Dr. Arslanbob owns something like a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series. These cars are plush and prestigious without straying into extravagance like range-topping models often do. No one wants to risk enflaming the serfs trapped in their clapped-out hoopties. Flagships can draw more undesirable attention than a ruptured bag of glitter. Keeping a step back from the top is a reasonably safe place to be, though that’s probably what Spiro Agnew thought …

Giving Type-A customers some welcome choice, the British and South Koreans both have legitimate alternatives to upscale German offerings. The Jaguar XF is a versatile four-door with more brand cachet than a membership at Pebble Beach. As for Hyundai, its Genesis sedan has morphed into a phenomenal all-around vehicle, though one that still offers a lot of bang for your buck. Either way, financial planners, junior executives and lawyers who haven’t made partner yet will like them both, though one is a much wiser choice.

Classic Rivals

2015 Jaguar XF AWD Front 02Compared to one another, the Jaguar XF and Hyundai Genesis are almost classic rivals, something akin to the bad blood between Ford and Chevrolet, Coke and Pepsi or Courtney Love and sobriety. The big cat represents old-world class and traditional luxury, while the Korean brand stands for value and 21st century ambition.

With identical mission statements, these vehicles share a lot in common and are similar in size. At 118.5 inches, the Genesis rides on a wheelbase that’s four inches longer than the XF’s hub-to-hub span. Not surprisingly, the Genesis’ body is 1.2 inches longer as well. As for width, Hyundai’s offering is also a couple inches broader than its British rival.

In the front and rear, the Genesis has more head room plus a wider cabin. However, the XF counters with an extra-spacious trunk and a lighter curb weight — its trunk hold can accommodate 17.7 cubic feet of goods while the Hyundai’s is only able to swallow 15.3.

2015Hyundai Genesis AWD Front 01Another laudable attribute of the Jaguar is that it’s 150 pounds lighter, but don’t get too excited because both of these all-wheel-drive cars clock in at more than two tons. Miata rivals they are not.

The XF may have more storage space and a mass differential tipped in its favor, but the car’s real advantage is found ahead of the firewall. Its 3.0-liter supercharged V6 punches harder than the naturally aspirated unit found in the Genesis. Thanks to an Eaton twin-vortex blower and dual intercoolers, this six-shooter releases a stampede of 340 horses and 332 lb-ft of torque. At 3.8-liters, the Hyundai’s V6 does have a displacement advantage, but it’s no match for the Jag, delivering just 311 ponies and 293 units of twist.

Fortunately, it’s a level playing field aft of the bell housing, as both cars are equipped with eight-speed automatic transmissions that bolster performance and fuel efficiency. In the economy department, Jaguar’s offering stickers at 17 miles per gallon city, 27 highway and 20 combined. Hyundai manages a still-respectable average of 19 mpg, which is derived from its city score of 16 and its interstate rating of 25.

X to the F

But who cares about numbers?! They can’t convey the way a car feels, how comfortable its seats are or the manner in which a transmission responds at wide-open throttle. Putting these machines through their paces back to back on the same driving loop revealed a few intriguing differences.

2015 Jaguar XF AWD Engine 01

Starting with the Jaguar, it feels a bit faster than the Korean in this comparison, though that should come as no surprise. Also, its transmission is smooth and prompt.

This car is also a delight to the ears, thanks to a touch of whine provided by its mechanical atmosphere multiplier. The supercharger’s siren song is enthralling and totally unexpected in a luxury vehicle. Unfortunately though, the Jaguar’s engine is not quite as well isolated as the powerplant its rival brandishes and a little extra vibration can be felt inside, which, coincidentally, is another one of this car’s downsides.

2015 Jaguar XF AWD Interior 01The cabin in the XF is disappointing; there’s simply no other way to describe it. It’s cramped and unacceptably flimsy, with various creaks and groans making their presence felt within the first block I drove it. This means one of two things, either the test car was infested with poltergeists or it was on the verge of falling apart. Not being a particularly superstitious person, I’d bet money on the latter.

Beyond this, the control stalks feel sloppy and frail, like they could divorce themselves from the steering column without notice, the lids on the center console that cover the cup holders and storage cubbies feel insubstantial to the touch, and even the gauges look like they belong in a budget hatchback, not a luxury sedan.

However, despite the stench of disappointment inside, the XF does have two noteworthy features. Its rotary shift knob rises from the console when its engine is fired up, which is a nifty touch. Additionally, this car’s air vents on the dashboard are motorized, opening when the climate control system is switched on and closing again when things are shut down. It’s a delightfully gratuitous feature.

Compare Specs

2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD
vs
2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
Vehicle 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD Advantage 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
Engine 3.8-Liter V6 - 3.0-Liter Supercharged V6
Horsepower 311 HP XF 340 HP
Torque 293 lb-ft. XF 332 lb-ft.
Weight 4,295 lbs. XF 4,145 lbs.
Cargo Space 15.3 cubic feet XF 17.7 cubic feet
Fuel Economy 16 MPG city, 25 MPG Hwy XF 17 MPG city, 27 MPG Hwy
Starting Price $41,450 Genesis $60,870

Genesis: A New Beginning

Unlike the Jaguar, Hyundai’s Genesis is graced with an impeccable cabin. The assembly quality, materials implementation and attention to detail are all first-rate and arguably even rival the abovementioned German cars. Engineers and designers alike have done a truly outstanding job with this vehicle’s interior.

2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD Interior 01

The Hyundai’s infotainment system and secondary controls are logically laid out and simpler to use than much of the technology found in the XF. It’s also incredibly silent inside when you’re driving at speed, but to be fair, so is the Jaguar.

2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD Engine 02Even though it’s down on both horsepower and torque the Genesis’ V6 is smoother than a mirror and plenty responsive. The car’s eight-speed transmission makes the most of its stable of horses and enables brisk acceleration. It may not feel as fleet as the Jag, but you’re never wanting for power, especially in the upper rev range. This engine pulls like a mule from about 5,000 rpm on up.

Beyond all of this, the Genesis wins in other areas as well. It’s more comfortable inside, better looking outside and more appealing overall. In short, the Hyundai feels at least a generation ahead of the Jaguar, and that’s a monumental achievement for a company whose vehicles were like disposable just 20 years ago.

The Verdict: 2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD vs. Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD

Overall, the Jaguar XF is a nice car drowning in an ocean of superb offerings. It’s a product that’s behind the curve in many ways, and undoubtedly, Hyundai is more than happy to exploit these deficiencies with its Genesis sedan, which is the superior vehicle.

2015 Jaguar XF AWD Rear 02

And the XF’s shortcomings become even more egregious when you look at pricing. An entry-level Genesis with all-wheel drive can be had for $41,450, including $950 in shipping and handling fees. A bargain-basement version of the Jaguar kicks off at $60,870 with $995 for delivery. That’s a difference of more than $19,000! You could buy the Genesis and an Elantra GT hatchback for the price of a stripped-down XF.

2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD Rear 01

If there’s any consolation, a totally redesigned XF is about to hit the market, a car that would certainly fare better against its main rivals, including the Hyundai. However, with a winning combination of refinement, performance and unbelievable value Dr. Arslanbob is sure to love the Genesis and so will you.

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2015 Hyundai Genesis 3.8 AWD

2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD