Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Hyundai's Genesis goes elite with luxurious G90

You can't drive the new Genesis G90 without reminding yourself how far this brand has come.
The first time we got behind the wheel of what was then the new Hyundai Genesis was 2009. At the time, the notion of a luxury car from South Korea's largest automaker seemed far-fetched.
Even worse. The notion that buyers would shell out more than $40,000 for a Hyundai seemed absurd. The automaker had not yet overcome a lingering (and undeserved) reputation for poor quality and only the first inklings of a styling renaissance were showing up. Yet we were oh-so-wrong. That Genesis, a true luxury car without the snob appeal, was kind of a breakthrough that made the auto industry take notice of Hyundai.
Now, less than a decade later, Hyundai has taken another leap to be competitive in the big leagues.
Genesis has been spun off from Hyundai and is a standalone brand. The cars will still sell for less than a Mercedes-Benz or BMW, but the gap will narrow because, over time, the bet is that the Genesis logo will come to be seen as just as prestigious.
Which bring us to the G90. This is the brand's new flagship sedan, a chance to show off the best that it can be. And there is plenty to admire.
For starters, it's a big car. The G90 comes in at 17 feet in overall length with a wheelbase alone has been stretched 4.5 inches compared to the Hyundai's last full-size luxury sedan, the Equus. One reason is that this is one of those luxury sedans, like Lexus' LS, that feels as though it's designed around the back seat.
There's ample space in back for executives who want to be chauffeur-driven. A nifty pull-down armrest lets honored rear-seat guests control the entertainment and climate-control systems. Not quite the customized massage unit in the LS, but still sophisticated.
With an analog clock on the dash and all the comfort, a car like the G90 risks being seen as stodgy. But in this case, it actually feels quite modern.
Genesis sweated the details. The center infotainment screen is large and  has sharp detail. All the buttons and dials are surfaced in a way that makes them a delight to touch. Then there's the quiet. The car was given touches like triple-sealed windows to shut out noise. When you gently close the rear doors, they sort of suck themselves to the closed position.
The quietness of the cabin is profound enough that you have to strain to hear the car going through the gears of its eight-speed automatic transmission.
Likewise, the engine options are just as slick. The base is the new twin-turbocharged Lambda V-6, good for 365 horsepower. We've always liked the Tau V-8, which produces 420 silky horses.
The Genesis considers its competition to be the flagship sedans of the world's best-known luxury car makers. At $68,100 plus $950 in delivery charges, the price is a bargain compared to a BMW 7 Series sedan at $81,500 or Mercedes-Benz S Classat $96,600.
And so it goes. We weren't entirely enchanted by the G90. There were a few things we'd change, mostly involving the convenience of the controls. The climate-control knobs are situated too close to the auto-control knobs and it was hard to know which one you were grabbing without looking. Likewise, some other buttons, like the one that opens the trunk from the inside, are hard to reach.
But all-in-all, this sedan sets just the right standard for the level of luxury and detail that Genesis is going to need to establish if it is to go up against the best in the industry. Indeed, it has come a long way in short time.

What Stands Out

Luxury details: Love the texturing on the buttons and controls
Quiet: Triple sealed windows.
Rear seat: The place to be.

2017 Genesis G90

What? A luxury sedan
When? On sale now
Where? Made in South Korea.
How big? 17 feet long
What makes it go? A 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 that puts out 365 horsepower or a 5-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower.
How thirsty? For the V-6, 17 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg highway and 20 combined. For the V-8, 16 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 19 overall.
Overall? A cost-competitive choice for luxury car buyers

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