By Nauman Farooq
South Korean auto giant, Hyundai, was all set to launch its luxury arm, Genesis, about a decade ago, but backed out pretty much at the last minute. It then went on to market two Genesis models – a coupe and a sedan – under the Hyundai badge, and to make matters even more confusing, launched a top-of-the-line model that went by a different name, Equus.
About two years ago, Hyundai decided to end the confusion, and launched Genesis as a standalone brand. The old sedan was renamed G80, the coupe has been dropped, and there is a sporty new model on the way, which is badged G70. The old Equus has had a bit of a makeover, and is now called the G90. It currently sits at the top of the range, and is the brands flagship model.
I needed a car to cover the distance between my home in London, Ontario, to Manhattan, New York, so I could attend the 2018 New York International Auto Show. I was pretty much convinced to make this trip based on a conversation I had with the Genesis brands lead designer, Luc Donckerwolke, when I briefly met him at the 2018 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. I reminded Donckerwolke of his past, when he used to design Lamborghini’s for a living, and asked him, when we can expect to see an exotic sports car under the Genesis brand. He replied, “Are you coming to the New York Auto Show? I’ll have something nice to show, so do come.”
That was all the motivation I needed, and started to make plans to head down to New York City. Initially, I was suppose to drive down in a Ford Fusion Sport, but since the car was just hit with a recall, that booking was cancelled. Then I decided to call Hyundai/Genesis, to see if I can get a car from them. Initially, the dates weren’t quite working out to take a Genesis model, and they suggested I take a Hyundai Elantra GT for my journey; however, a day later, I was informed that they found a Genesis for me to take on my trip, and it is the big one, the flagship G90 with all the options, including the mighty 5.0L V8 motor. So, a big car for a big trip, how did it do?
Honestly, the G90 did a lot better than I was expecting. I had driven the old Equus models in the past, and was not a fan. It sure seems that Genesis engineers have thoroughly gone through the Equus, and fine tuned it in every possible way before badging it as a G90. There is a fluidity to the way the car drives now, that it never had before. It is perfectly relaxed when you want it to be, and when you decide to put your foot down, the G90 is far more athletic than I imagined it to be!
Under the hood, a G90 can be had with a choice of two engines. Base trim is a twin-turbocharged 3.3L V6 motor that produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. All G90 models are fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and all-wheel drive. My tester had the naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8 motor, which develops 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. End result is, that this roughly 2,100 kg luxury sedan, can shame plenty of sports cars in terms of performance – Zero to 100 km/h is covered in 5.4 seconds, while top speed is electronically governed at 240 km/h.
Having power to go quickly in a straight line is one thing, what surprises the most is how well this premium, full-size sedan can handle the bends. It boasts fully independent suspension on each corner, mated to an adaptive damping system which responds in real time, based on the road conditions, speed, and driver input, to provide optimal ride quality and stability.
End result is a vehicle that feels composed and in control in pretty much any scenario, and with all-wheel drive grip, it feels unstoppable, no matter what the weather wants to throw at you. I expected the G90 to be a comfy cruiser, and not much else – I was wrong, this vehicle appeals to the enthusiastic driver that lives in all car guys and girls.
Not to worry, it hasn’t lost its eye on luxury, in pursuit of a good drive. The G90 is very luxurious, with almost all the features you’d expect from a vehicle of this category.
In fact, the only feature it didn’t have that I wish it did have, was massaging seats. Apart from that, you get heated and cooled seats front and rear, electric blinds that cover the side and rear glass, individual climate control, around-view camera system, navigation, a 900-watt Lexicon surround sound system featuring 17 speakers (yes, 17!), and a whole lot more
On my long, highway trek, I simply set the adaptive cruise control, turned on its lane-keep assist system, put the car in ‘Eco’ mode, and covered the distance. Thanks to that last trick, this big, luxury sedan averaged an incredible 8.5L/100 km on my journey. Even in the city, I averaged about 12.0L/100 km, which is pretty good; seriously, it seems like Genesis has thought of everything for this car.
If there is an area it can be improved upon, is its styling. While it is a handsome vehicle, it certainly doesn’t make anyone go, “Wow.”
This current G90 was not designed by their new design chief, Mr. Donckerwolke, so I’m sure when he gets around to doing a refresh, or an all-new G90, we will get a much more exciting design.
For now, the G90 is yours from $84,000 for the V6 model, and $87,000 for the V8. A really clever thing about Genesis pricing is, that there are no hidden fees; its the price, plus tax, and that’s it – no extra freight, PDI, admin, air tax, gas tax, etc., etc.
I really, honestly hope, that every car company selling its products in Canada follows the example set by Genesis, after all, you can’t buy a new car without paying those fees anyway, so why not include them to confuse customers less.
I am truly sold on the Genesis brand – I like the way they think, and I really like the product. So, if I was to spend my own money on a new, luxury vehicle, I’d get a G90.