Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
When we arrived at the Hyundai America Technical Center (HATCI) outside Ann Arbor, MI, we were greeted by Electronics Engineering Manager John Robb, along with three Genesis Coupes and one Sedan, each fitted with Hyundai's new navigation setup. Robb gave us a thorough overview of the Coupe's system and explained that Hyundai opted for a touch-screen unit on the two-door model, versus the console mounted iDrivesque knob employed on the Sedan, due to the tighter interior packaging of the Coupe.
Hyundai Electronics Engineering Manager John Robb demonstrates new nav system
The screen replaces the audio system controls in the upper part of the center stack, with the AM/FM/SAT/AUX switches pushed to the upper edge of the console and seek and track switches to the left. Most of the audio controls are now contained within the screen, and since the touch screen is capable of displaying audio system information, the small display nestled into the pod on top of the dash of non-nav Coupes is superfluous.
The touch screen measures 6.5 inches diagonally, making it larger than most portable units, but smaller than some of the latest systems, including the nine-inch unit offered by Ford. While the Sedan's nav system offers real time traffic data, it doesn't have the ability to automatically re-route around blockages. The Coupe, on the other hand, can detect traffic on the current route, offer a detour and then reroute if the driver chooses.
However, the problem with real-time traffic is that it isn't exactly real-time – at least not yet. Currently, the traffic monitoring infrastructure isn't built up to the point of providing complete information, causing a delay in data transmission to vehicles. We had the chance to experience this firsthand when we drove from Ann Arbor to the Cedar Point amusement park near Sandusky, OH. There were several construction zones in the Toledo area that the system warned us about and asked if we wanted to re-route. When we approached the affected area, traffic was moving along freely, so we were able to decline the detour and proceed along as planned.
One handy, and incredibly simple, feature we enjoyed with in Coupe is the mute button displayed in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. While all modern sat-navs provide voice prompted directions, some have a tendency to pester you a bit too often, breaking up conversation in the vehicle and interrupting the dulcet tones of your favorite podcast
. Unlike other systems that require you to trudge deep into the menu structure to mute the audio alerts, with the Genesis Coupe, you just tap the screen to toggle the voice prompts on and off. Easy peasy and something we'd like to see employed on every system out there.
While Hyundai does have a voice recognition engine built into the system, it's not as robust as others on the market, particularly the industry standard set by Ford's SYNC system. Voice commands in the Genesis generally worked well when inputting basic navigation, point-of-interest (POI) categories and higher level functions, however, one key feature – specific POI input – is missing. So if you want to speak the name of a restaurant, you're out of luck. And while you can use the voice commands to pull up POI categories, then make a selection by speaking the number corresponding to the destination, it requires you to take your eyes off the road, somewhat negating the benefit of voice commands in the first place.
Another minor issue we encountered – and something we've experienced in other sat-nav equipped vehicles – is the screen's lack of clarity when wearing polarized sunglasses. When viewed from behind the wheel, the angle, combined with the touch technology, causes the screen to fade and the text becomes harder to see. It's not a deal-breaker, but other systems don't have this problem, causing us to wonder how the screen technologies differ between brands and suppliers.
Opting for the nav system also provides integrated Bluetooth functionality, making phone calls and wireless audio streaming a breeze. When a phone is paired and you look up a point of interest in the directory, if an associated phone number is provided you can simply tap the number on screen and it dials automatically. Furthermore, the Hyundai system is equipped with AD2P technology, meaning you can stream music from any Bluetooth-equipped MP3 player or phone without having to plug in.
Another feature available on the Genesis Coupe is an auxiliary torque and fuel economy gauge integrated into the screen. Since the 3.8-liter V6 in the track edition provides plenty of twist, the torque display is somewhat unnecessary -- even if it is cool to look at. We figure the gauge would be more useful with the turbocharged four-cylinder model, particularly if you've made a few modifications. Although we're generally not fond of center-mounted gauges, the system works well enough, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for Hyundai to create a heads-up system to display navigation and performance information directly onto the windshield.
The new navigation system is priced at $1,000 which while more expensive than most third party portable units is still about half of what most factory in-dash units cost.
Hyundai hasn't announced pricing for the navigation system in the Coupe, but it's
Premium four cylinder and Grand Touring and Track models with nav are due to arrive in dealerships in the next few months, so expect official figures soon. After the Coupe is available with navigation, Hyundai will begin offering the same touch-screen system as a lower cost stand-alone option in the Sedan. Currently, Hyundai only offers sat-nav as part of the $4,000 technology package, which also includes adaptive lighting, the multi-media controller and heated and cooled seats, among a host of other items.
Overall, the new system is about mid-pack at this point. It has better voice control than some of the systems available on more high-end vehicles (read: BMW and Mercedes), but Ford remains at the head of its class. John Robb assured us that Hyundai's engineers are continuing to work on enhancements to the system to add functionality and reliability, and given Hyundai's track record of incremental improvements, we're confident it's only a matter of time before this system leaps to the front of the pack.