What’s Hot: Not since the late eighties, when the Lexus, Infiniti and Acura brands were launched, has an all-new luxury car line hit the scene. We could include Tesla in the mix, but it is an-all electric luxury vehicle, which caters to high-end consumers totally dependent on an electric charge.
Unlike the Tesla brand, the all-new Genesis luxury brand will follow the theme of its mainstream older sibling, Hyundai, offering a well-contented, value-packed vehicle that runs off of gasoline. But eventually, just like its luxury competitors, electric plug-ins and hybrids are slated to be a part of the brand’s DNA too.
Two vehicles will kick-off the limited product line. The upscale Bentley-like flagship, the Genesis G90, which replaces the aging Hyundai Equus, and the Genesis G80, which is formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis sedan, officially goes on sale during the month of September.
Genesis vehicles can be purchased and serviced at select Hyundai stores. Because of strict customer service requirements by the Genesis executive team, the all-new Korean brand will only be available in about 350 of its 800 Hyundai stores. By 2020, the brand should carry a full range of models, mixing it up with two crossovers and four cars. The new Korean luxury brand could also be sold in a separate facility, too, breaking away from its mainstream established sibling, Hyundai.
Genesis, like Cadillac, with its short-term off-balance product mix, is relying heavily on cars, in a market not kind to cars. One of the ways Genesis executives hope to break into the luxury market is by offering personalized services, such as the ability to schedule appointments using an app. The Genesis dealers also plan to cater to the needs of their luxury car customers, bringing loaners to one’s work or home, as opposed to having the customer come in for service.
Genesis plans on continuing the theme that has been highly successful for both Hyundai and the current stylish Genesis G80 (formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis sedan). Like its mainstream older sibling Hyundai, the all-new Korean luxury brand will offer a vehicle with all of the luxury amenities, along with a segment leading new-vehicle and powertrain warranty that rivals the competitors. And of course, the vehicles will be priced thousands less than its competitors.
What’s Not: Genesis is entering into a market that has shifted from cars to crossovers, SUVs and trucks due to the low gas prices. So, with that said, the Genesis brand is going to have to establish itself via cheap leases and extraordinary personalized customer service to woo persnickety customers who are brand loyal to Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Drive or Drive By: We were highly impressed with the capabilities of the big body flagship, the Genesis 90, which was equipped with 19-inch Continental tires. It’s obvious that the vehicle had been vetted prior to us taken the keys. In fact, the Genesis engineering team performed rigorous performance testing at the famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany, as well as Mojave Desert test center in California.
The G90 we reviewed was equipped with its powerful six-cylinder engine, with its seamless shifting transmission, quietly soaked up every bump in the road while it glided down the curvy and hilly highways of Canada.
All of the interior controls are thoughtfully laid out, designed with the driver in mind in for the front (and the rear occupants, too). During our time behind the wheel, we were able to adjust the suspension system on-demand by cycling through a variety of driving modes: eco, smart, sport and individual. We even had an opportunity to utilize the radar-activated, all-speed cruise control system, too.
And, unlike some of its competitors, while the G90 is outfitted with the latest safety technology and electronic applications, it does not require an advanced technology degree to operate the controls. The commanding presence of the vehicle shows that the G90 is quite agile and easy-to-maneuver, despite its prominent hood. Yes, the Koreans are serious about competing in the luxury segment. Fit and finish seems to be the consistent overall theme of the vehicle, making sure it plays well with such established brands as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.
The G90 is equipped with self-sealing doors that close automatically. The rear seats have double window switches that allow the rear occupants to control both sets of rear windows. And unlike the midlevel Genesis G80, the front occupants will not confuse the audio and ventilation controls. In a day and time where CD players are obsolete or an added high-dollar accessory, they are standard on the G90. Yes, the Korean and U.S. design and engineering teams have pulled out all of the stops to show they are serious.
But some of the interior controls such as the map light were reminiscent of what could be found in the value oriented Hyundai Elantra and Sonata. And we wanted a little more padding in the bottom layer of the form-fitting front seats that were dripping in the finest grade of Italian leather. Lastly, rear heated seats should be available on the 6-cylinder model, as is the case with the luxurious cabin space in the 8-cylinder model.
As we reported in Ebony Magazine in February and discussed on our automotive radio show, Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, Andre Hudson, the Korean’s first Black designer, is the lead exterior designer of the all-new G90.
For luxury and near luxury car buyers in the market for something fresh and new and are yearning to save several thousand dollars, the Genesis brand is definitely worth checking out. The new Genesis brand, more specifically the flagship G90, can also serve as a step-up vehicle for buyers of the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, too.
Standard Safety Features (Genesis G90): ABS; airbags; LED Daytime Running Lights; a hill start assist system; a heads up display system; automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; a driver attention alert system; a smart blind spot detection system; a lane keep assist system; a smart cruise control with a start/stop system; a multi-view camera; a power activated high beam assist system; front and rear parking sensors; a haptic steering wheel; electronic stability control; a windshield wiper de-icer; and automatic dimming rearview mirror; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (Genesis G90):
6-cylinder model: 19-inch wheels (and tires); an 8-speed automatic transmission; a rear wheel drive system; a push button keyless ignition starter system; a 17-speaker Harmon audio system; satellite radio; CD player; 4 driving modes (eco, smart, sport and individual); 22-power operated driver’s seat; 16 –power operated front passenger seat; power operated headrests; memory controlled heated/ventilated front seats; a wireless phone charger; Italian leather seats; a 12-inch navigation/infotainment screen; a power operated steering wheel; power operated side and rear sunshades; a radar-activated power trunk; power operated foldable exterior mirrors; and three ventilation zones
8-cylinder model: adds 6 cylinder features plus power operated rear reclining seats and rearview vanity mirrors
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: Everything is standard. Luxury buyers will have a choice between a rear-wheel drive vehicle or an all-wheel drive configuration, with either a six-cylinder or an eight-cylinder engine.
G90 Trim Level:
An 6-cylinder, 3.8-liter 365-horsepower model
An 8-cylinder, 5.0-liter, 425-horsepower model (with more limo-like features for the rear occupants)
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 17-speaker Harmon Audio AM/FM/CD/Satellite
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes, front and rear
Complimentary Maintenance: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
Recommended Fuel: Premium
Standard Fuel Mileage:
Pricing: Pricing for the flagship will be announced during the month of September. Since there are only two trims, we expect pricing will mirror that of the Hyundai Equus that it replaced. We’re estimating the highly equipped flagship to sticker between $68,000 to $80,000. We highly doubt it will approach the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class territory, which both have starting prices of $82,495 and $96,575, respectively. The pricing will be more in line with the aging Lexus LS, which is due for a major overhaul next year.
Pricing for the G80 was recently announced. To check out the pricing, click here.
Lexus LS, BMW 7-Series, Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while also grabbing customers from Cadillac, Infiniti and Acura, too.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.