Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury brand ushers in flagship G90

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The names are synonymous with luxury — Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus and Cadillac — so is there room for another player in the elite auto pool? Hyundai thinks so.

The familiar Genesis name, formerly reserved for one of Hyundai’s top sedan models, becomes the new brand of Korean luxury. The new Genesis brand will focus on opportunities to move customers up from lesser Hyundais while also trying to pry some of the pie away from lower-tier luxury brands Lincoln, Acura and Infiniti.

According to Hyundai, the new Genesis brand will be allocated space within Hyundai dealer showrooms. The plan is to build a brand of six levels of vehicles by 2021. That would include the flagship G90 premium large sedan (formerly, the Equus), G80 mid-size luxury sedan (former Genesis sedan), a smaller G70 near-luxury sedan, an as-yet-unnamed mid-size luxury sport coupe, and mid-size and compact luxury crossovers with a GX/two-digit nomenclature.

Genesis G90

On the outside, the Genesis G90 delivers the long and wide footprint of all the competing large luxury sedans. The long hood, large 19-inch alloy wheels and short overhangs give the G90 the all the expected rear-drive proportions.

The G90’s hexagonal grille and winged Genesis badge set the tone. More than a few reviewers have made mention of the fact that the G90 seems to resemble the Maybach sedan in treatment of roof, trunk and taillights (a great compliment, for sure).

The 2017 Genesis G90 will have two trims. The 3.3T Premium is powered by a downsized version of Hyundai’s 3.8-liter V-6 that’s been turbocharged to make 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. For those who want to engage the road with excessive power, the 5.0 Ultimate, sporting a 420-horsepower V-8 with 383 pound-feet of torque, will suit.

The 2017 G90 makes waves by offering all-wheel drive (AWD), the only option offered and available on both G90 models. The G90 will start in the $60,000 range with a few thousand more for AWD.

Cabin comforts

The cabin delivers the classy fit and finish you expect with real wood surfaces, aluminum trim and soft leather coverings. Thick acoustic glass surround keeps the cabin quiet. If noise is what you want, I was blown away by the standard 900-watt, 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound system.

Seating is heavenly with heated and ventilated front chairs offering 22-way power adjustments for the driver and 16-way power adjustments for the front passenger. My tester’s driver seat back had middle articulation with adjustable lumbar, shoulder bolster and lower cushion extensions.

Data, information and entertainment are delivered with a mix of analog and digital details via a big, 12.3-inch central infotainment screen. Look for additional touches such as wireless cellphone charging and a full-color head-up display.

Large speedometer and tachometer instrumentations look great and are logically arrayed. Maybe the best part is that all of these functions are easily handled via a few knobs on the central console stack. The G90’s rear seats are worthy of mention, big and supportive.

Genesis Experience

Helping to set off Genesis products from Hyundai models is the Genesis Experience. This portfolio of services includes three years/36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance and valet service when your G90 is in the service bay, three years/unlimited miles of roadside assistance with concierge service and three years of complimentary connected services from your cellphone (as well as SiriusXM traffic, travel link and navigation updates for that period of time).

With available AWD and comparable size and luxury scope, I really think the new Genesis G90 flagship will quickly have established premium luxury brands looking over their shoulders.

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