PARADISE VALLEY, AZ – When the Genesis sedan debuted in 2008, Hyundai had yet to prove itself a consistent, quality manufacturer of mass-market models, let alone luxury ones.

So it’s understandable the motoring media, and the public at-large were skeptical the automaker could make a vehicle on par with Bimmers, Lexi and Benzes.

But after driving the first-generation Genesis, most critics came away believers in the automaker’s creed of “surprise and delight.” WardsAuto was especially impressed by the car’s homegrown V-8, giving the “Tau” two 10 Best Engines awards, in 2009 and 2010.

The original Genesis sold respectably, doing about 20,000-25,000 units a year, and brought new buyers into Hyundai showrooms.

Six years later, the automaker is back with an all-new Genesis 4-door, and the car once again proves this isn’t your father’s Korean automobile.

Unlike the last generation, which purposefully had a face that echoed (copied?) Mercedes-Benz, the new version has a mug all its own.

The new ultra-tall-and-wide full-metal grille is commanding, as well as polarizing.

While some hate its largesse and others don’t like its shape, there’s no denying it has a “wow” factor unlike anything else on the road right now, at least for under $70,000.

Other aspects of the second-generation Genesis are less showy, reflecting a new simplicity in Hyundai’s design language after the overwrought “Fluidic Sculpture” look of the last few years.

The car has a relatively straight-and-steady character line from the front fender that wraps around the back and crosses the trunk, meeting an identical line on the other side.

Headlights and taillights are simply shaped, but the flash is in the lights themselves: about 30 individual LEDs make up front indicator lights; taillights go full LED.

In profile, the car leans more toward a coupe-like appearance, rather than a traditional 3-box sedan, appearing longer ahead of the C-pillars.

While the Genesis looks bigger, it is the same length, width and height as the outgoing model. However, wheels are pushed further to the corners, lengthening the car’s wheelbase 3.1 ins. (79 mm). Front and rear tracks grow slightly, as well.

The first-gen’s two direct-injected gasoline engines, a 3.8L V-6 or 5.0L V-8, stay but engineers tinkered with them to improve low-end torque and NVH levels. The V-6 gets a tube-within-a-tube air-gap exhaust manifold aimed at achieving the latter goal.

The 8-speed automatic transmission also remains, although it now can skip shifts and has improved timing, Hyundai says.

Most of what’s new about the Genesis is in its chassis and body.

The car’s platform was redesigned to fit Magna’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system into V-6 models and now has 51% advanced high-strength steel content, up from 14% in the outgoing Genesis sedan.

More advanced steel ups torsional rigidity 16% and bending rigidity a whopping 40%.

On the road, the Genesis’ ride is flat and mostly forgiving, with a few rough patches of pavement revealing a chassis that’s more sport-oriented than before.

The V-8 model’s extra 246 lbs. (112 kg) is noticeable at takeoff, but both V-6 AWD and V-8 rear-wheel-drive grades are equally as spry under moderate acceleration.