Ryan Beene
Ryan Beene
Washington D.C. -- Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki Reporter

Hyundai honors Genesis with a winged badge

After sticking with Hyundai's circular "H" badge for the original U.S. market Genesis, the redesigned model will come wearing the winged badge that graces every Genesis sold in South Korea.

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The three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz. BMW's blue-and-white roundel. Audi's four rings. Hyundai's wings.

OK, it's probably a little premature to put Hyundai in that group of luxury carmakers. (A little?) But Hyundai looks like it's starting to get more serious about its luxury aspirations. For evidence, look no further than the 2015 Genesis' badging.

After sticking with Hyundai's circular "H" badge for the original U.S. market Genesis, the redesigned model will come wearing the winged badge that graces every Genesis sold in South Korea.

The Bentleyesque wings appear on the hood, the steering wheel and throughout the interior. The H logo survives on the car's rear-end, just enough to remind other drivers that they're following a Hyundai.

"We wanted people to know it's part of our Hyundai lineup," Mike O'Brien, Hyundai's vice president of product and corporate planning, said of the Genesis. "On the other hand, people who buy premium vehicles want to feel special and have a premium experience."

The wings, O'Brien says, give dealership salespeople a way to spotlight the Genesis as something different from Hyundai's more mainstream offerings.

Ever since the Genesis' introduction, Hyundai has sought to leverage its upscale trimmings, comfort and power to elevate the overall perception of the Hyundai marque.

Trouble was, many Genesis buyers wanted adifferent marque, opting to add the winged badge as a dealer-installed option.

In an interview a few years ago, Dave Zuchowski -- then Hyundai's U.S. sales boss and now CEO of Hyundai Motor America -- told me that roughly 80 percent of customers opted for the winged badge at the time of purchase.

If that's still the case, it appears that Hyundai is heeding its customers' preference for a distinct badge.

And the new ornament on the front end suggests that Hyundai's U.S. team is ready to carve out a separate identity for the Genesis.

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter

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