Genesis G90 is remarkably refined
Hyundai’s luxury brand wows with seamless shifting, great handling and a quiet and beautiful ride.
THE PROS & CONS
- Love it: Every aspect of performance; spacious, quiet, comfortable cabin; level of refinement unsurpassed even in this segment; bargain-priced even in the mid-80s.
- Leave it: Some minor control functions following competitors down incorrect paths; Head-Up Display reflects in windshield, and not in the good way; unless you’re a conscious contrarian, you’ll suffer a major image deficit at the country club.
If you are buying a luxury sedan for any reason other than the badge, the new Genesis G90 must be on your shopping list.
It is on sale now, starting at $84,000.
So, what is a Genesis? It’s the new luxury brand from Hyundai.
I know; that sounds like an oxymoron.
But trust me: just as the luxury brands from Japan shook the European and domestic high-end marques to their cores over a quarter century ago, they all better be looking over their shoulders at this newcomer.
Yes, it is that good.
Genesis began a few years ago as a range-topping model in Hyundai’s lineup. They sold dozens and dozens of them, despite it being a pretty good car.
Hyundai also glued that nameplate to its sporty coupe, with modest results.
Next came the Equus, an even pricier luxury sedan which hardly set the sales charts on fire.
Now Hyundai has spun Genesis off in a Lexus-like move as a stand-alone brand, to separate it from lesser cars bearing the ‘H-mark.’ Neither that nor the ‘H-word’ appears anywhere on the car that you can see without a forensic search.
Our subject today is the G90. To my eye, it is a handsome car, although there’s little here that suggests its brand DNA at first glance, the way an Audi, BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes does.
At least not yet; after all, Lexus has been working on this for most of its quarter century of existence and still hasn’t got there.
Two engines are offered in G90. My tester had the new 365 horsepower, 3.3-litre twin-turbo direct injection V6; a 420 horse, 5.0-litre V8 is also available.
Both engines drive all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters. Rear-drive versions are available in the U.S. and other global markets, but demand here for such is too small to be worth it.
All the oily bits do their jobs with great aplomb. The car is quick, the shifts are seamless, it rides beautifully, it is monk’s chambers quiet, and it handles better than anyone buying a car like this has any right to expect.
The G90 is a big car by any measure, with massive interior space front and rear.
It has all the mod-cons, with three-zone climate control, all the Nappa leather you can imagine covering million-way adjustable comfy and supportive seats, real wood trim, high-end stereo system, a full suite of safety systems including pedestrian detection and stop-start smart cruise control, and drive mode selection to tailor the car’s steering, throttle and suspension responses to your personal preferences. Plus all the connectivity carmakers seem to think their customers want.
A few minor quibbles. The Drive Mode Selector offers a ‘Sport’ mode, whose firmer steering just feels a bit sticky to me. But then, you can change it if you don’t like it. Good to have the choice.
So, why don’t we have the choice to disable the automatic door locks? If you like these, fine, you can have them. If you hate them like I do, you should be able to disable them. No excuse.
The Head-Up Display whereby pertinent driving information (speed, SatNav, etc.) can be projected onto the windscreen is theoretically a good idea, but for whatever reasons, I just don’t like them. So, I can turn it off.
However, even when it’s off and you’re driving with a following sun (e.g., eastbound in the afternoon), a reflection bounces off the glass projector screen in the top of the dashboard onto the windshield. Maybe a piece of black crepe paper would fix this …
Hyundai (OK, ‘Genesis’ …) is following many carmakers down the wrong path of messing with the shift quadrant. There is no reason on this good green earth why Park shouldn’t be at the far end of the shift quadrant.
But, no; G90 has a separate push button with approximately zero travel, and no tactile confirmation that you have, in fact, selected it. Nothing but a slightly more intense blue colouration of the letter ‘P’ on that button.
Also Read: Luxury reigns in Jaguar’s flagship XJ
If they get sued by someone who is injured because of this, they can’t say I didn’t warn them.
At least their button is in the correct position, at the front end of said quadrant. Mercedes gets it even more wrong by putting the button at the back end of the quadrant. That’s just stupid.
Hey — we all have our little peccadilloes; overall, the G90 is an outstanding car.
And a bargain, too. Not only does the fully loaded G90 start some 10-to-30 grand cheaper than comparable cars, the sticker price includes freight and delivery, plus scheduled maintenance, satellite radio subscriptions and SatNav map updates for five years or 100,000 kilometres.
Of course, resale value which helps determine lease rates and long-term value, has yet to be established; time will tell.
Now, technology is the easy part of the car development game. It is only science, and you can either figure it out or buy it from the massively sophisticated supplier base to which the auto industry has access.
Fine-tuning, fit and finish, getting the colours to match perfectly, eking out the last few percentage points on ride quality — that’s tougher. That’s where the art comes in.
And the Genesis G90 is stunningly good at this. It is remarkably refined, by any measure.
The hardest part of the car biz? No doubt — building a brand.
How do you get people to shell out nearly six figures for a car built by the same folks who gave us the Pony?
Hyundai is under no illusions on this count. They know that building a great car won’t be enough.
So they plan to redefine the purchasing process too.
For starters, they are blowing up the franchised dealer network concept and replacing it with something they are calling ‘Genesis At Home’ concierge service.
Also Read: Genesis announces G80/G90 pricing strategy
As of Nov. 21, you will be able to contact this service by phone or online to arrange to have a demo brought to your home or office for a test drive. The transaction (assuming there is one!) will take place at your premises and at your convenience.
Likewise for after-purchase service. You will contact your concierge, make an appointment, they will come get your car and leave you a courtesy car for the duration.
Beginning in spring of 2017, Genesis vehicles will also be on display at boutique locations in major malls and other high-end shopping areas, rather like what Tesla does now.
A network of stand-alone Genesis Distribution Centres will also be built to do the service and store inventory.
But to sell a car by any method first requires that they have a car worth selling.
This half of the mission — accomplished.
Let’s see how well Hyundai can execute the second, much more difficult, half.
Body Style: 4-door, 5-seat, large, luxury sedan, full-time, four-wheel drive.
Price: 3.3 litre V6 — $84,000; 5.0 litre V8 — $87,000. Includes Freight and PDI, scheduled maintenance, SatNav map updates and satellite radio subscriptions (5 years, 100,000 km).
Engine: V6 — 3.3-litre, V6, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, direct injection, twin-turbocharged; V8 — 5.0-litre V8, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, direct injection.
Power/torque: horsepower / lb-ft: V6 — 365 @ 6,000 r.p.m. / 376 @ 1,300 — 4,500 r.p.m.; V8 — 420 @ 6,000 r.p.m. / 383 @ 5,000 r.p.m.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Transport Canada Fuel Consumption City / Highway (L/100 km): V6 13.7 / 9.7; V8 — 15.2 / 10.2. Premium fuel.
Score: 9.0 / 10
Competitors: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class.