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Review of: 2017 Genesis G90 4dr Sdn 3.3T Ultimate
2017 Genesis G90: Budget barge? Not quite.
By Matt Bubbers
Mar. 24, 2017
For the entirety of this article, we’re going to suspend any lingering brand-related snobbery. A luxury car from Hyundai? Yes, we know, but it worked for Volkswagen with Audi, and Toyota with Lexus, so why not Hyundai?
First, a correction: Genesis isn’t a luxury car, it’s a whole new brand. Yes, Genesis used to be the name of a Hyundai model. It’s confusing. But now Genesis will be a separate entity, with its own range of sedans, SUVs and even sports cars.
The G90 is the first one, and it’s wildly ambitious. Having lured the former chief-designer at Bentley and one of the big-wigs from BMW’s M Division, Hyundai isn’t shooting for second place here. The G90 is a full-size luxury limo, like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Lexus LS. Comfort, quality, power, space, tech and many cows’ worth of leather — it’s all taken for granted in this rarified strata of the automotive world. Can Genesis really compete with the best, first time out?
Pros & Cons
- + Usable technology
- + Ride comfort
- + Steering feel
- - Forgettable styling
- - Conservative interior design
- - Fuel economy
The proportions are right; the G90 is huge. Profile is its best angle, where the sheer length of the thing gives it presence. It’s a clean, un-fussy design. But it’s also rather bland. It’s not just that it’s the first model from a new brand — one day we’ll identify that gaping grille and winged badge with Genesis — but that the G90 doesn’t have any distinguishing features. It doesn’t stand out against its peers. Although, perhaps for a new kid trying to fit in, that’s a good thing. Anonymous luxury.
The G90 was actually penned before ex-Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke came to the company, so we’ll have to wait for future models — like the upcoming G70 compact sedan — to see his influence.
The leather is soft. The stitching is tight. The wood veneer is glossy like a marble and there is a football-field of rear leg room. But you expect all that. That doesn’t impress anyone here.
Okay, well, the seats are perfect. They’re certified by a group of German back-pain specialists. And I can attest to the fact I did not feel any back pain! The knurled metal buttons on the steering wheel are a nice touch too. The first-class-style rear seats get a huge control panel in the center arm rest.
But again, there’s nothing to really distinguish the G90. The analog clock looks cheap — as they often seem to in cars. Where’s the all-glass roof? The dashboard layout seems old-school compared to the latest from Porsche and Mercedes.
The G90 comes well loaded as standard, especially compared to the German competition that charges extra for every little thing. G90 equipment includes: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise with stop/start, colour heads-up display and driver attention alert. It’s all part of an effort to streamline and simplify the buying process.
It features a suite of driver-assists that add up to a kind of semi-autonomous mode. On the highway it helps steer, and speed up or slow down as needed.
The one feature that blew me away? The ability to control the car by talking to Amazon’s Alexa assistant. (Alexa, if you don’t know, is kind of like Apple’s Siri, but from Amazon. “She” lives in a cylindrical speaker you put in your house.) I don’t have one, so I couldn’t test it. But according to the company you can say things like: “Alexa, tell Genesis to lock my car” or “Alexa, tell Genesis to start my car, and set the temperature at 22 degrees.” Never worry if you forgot to lock your car again. That’s the future, man.
The G90 comes with a choice of two engines: a twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 or 5.0-litre V8. Our test car had the V6.
Starting up the V6, it doesn’t sound like much. It’s gruff. However, with 365 horsepower, and 376 lb-ft of torque available from just 1,300 rpm, it’s got plenty of grunt. It won’t scare back seat passengers like an AMG, but the V6 is enough for the real world. The only reason to get the V8 would really be for the sound it makes.
Like any proper luxury sedan, the G90 is rear-wheel drive. (Yay, oversteer!) The G90 rides on a new platform that will likely underpin future models as well.
On the road, the cabin is impressively quiet. The ride is nicely balanced for city and highway. It soaks up speedbumps, streetcar tracks and potholes without losing composure. It never feels float-y, despite the fact the suspension is tuned more for comfort than sportiness. And yet the steering feels crisp. The throttle doesn’t have that Hyundai jerkiness. Overall, ride and handling are very well judged.
Occasionally, at a stop, some drivetrain vibration would come up through the seat, but that’s pretty much my only complaint here.
Ahh, this is what you’re all wondering. How much? You expect it to cost less than the 7 Series, Audi A8 or S-Class. A lot less, to tempt buyers away from those prestigious, established names, right? Well, that doesn’t mean the G90 is going to be cheap.
Including delivery and destination charges, the G90 is priced at $84,000 (V6) and $87,000 (V8). That also includes a concierge service, as well as five years of scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance, satellite radio and map updates.
Yes, that’s a lot of coin. But you won’t have to walk into a Hyundai dealership. Genesis will deliver a car to your door if you’re seriously interesting in buying one. Later, the company will set up showrooms in busy malls and shopping centres as Tesla has done.
For comparison, the Lexus LS starts at $94,100, the 7 Series at $113,900 and the S-Class at $103,100. The fly in the ointment? The Audi A8 is just $86,150 and it comes standard with that four-rings badge.
Fuel economy? Not great. I was averaging 15 l/100 km after a week of driving in heavy, stop/start city traffic.
Well, we said we’d put away any brand-related snobbery for this review and the first-ever Genesis proved itself to be a very capable all-round luxury sedan. Is the G90’s palatial interior, low-ish price and long list of standard features enough to lure discerning drivers away from the usual suspects? The biggest strike against it is simply that it’s anonymous, a tad bland. But that’s where Genesis’ marketing efforts will come in. If they can make the company cool, Genesis has a bright future.