Hyundai Launches a Stand-Alone Luxury Brand

Genesis is a new face of luxury in the automotive world

Genesis is a new face of luxury in the automotive world, and it sprang from Hyundai. This stand-alone brand consists of two models — the G90 and the G80 — but the company says it will launch six new models by 2020.

By spinning off the Genesis into a separate brand, Hyundai is following the path similar to that of Honda with Acura, Nissan with Infiniti and Toyota with Lexus. The Genesis competes with upmarket cars such as the BMW 7-series, Mercedes-Benz S-class, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS and Cadillac CT6. While it does not have as many options as some of the above models, it is priced less than many in the segment and has a 10-year, 100,000-mile power-train warranty.

The G90 is available in Premium and Ultimate models. Both are rear-wheel drive with all-wheel drive optional. The Premium starts at $68,100 and has a 3.3-liter, turbocharged V-6 with 365 horsepower. The Ultimate begins at $69,700 and has a 5.0-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower. If you want all-wheel-drive, pretty much a necessity in our climate, the Premium is $70,600 and the Ultimate is $72,700.

The test car was a rear-wheel-drive Premium. The turbocharged V-6 has more than enough power, and it is delivered smoothly, with good acceleration right from idle. The eight-speed automatic transmission is silky smooth and can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel.

Comfort, smoothness, fit, finish and quality of materials are important for this segment, and the G90 brings an impressive résumé. I recently spent a week with one from the company’s press fleet.

The cabin is richly appointed, the seats are comfortable and the back seat has limousine-like legroom. The rear seatback does not adjust, and I found leaned back too far for me.

Dressed in black, as the test car was, the G90’s styling immediately communicates elegance and luxury. The profile is long and lean, understated and classy in the style of German luxury brands such as BMW and Audi. The exterior has few unnecessary flourishes, unlike some of its Japanese competitors such as Lexus. The hood is long, the grille large and the back doors are wide, a visual cue that the back seat is genuinely spacious. This is a car that will likely be driven by a chauffeur in markets such as South Korea and China.

Hyundai tapped designer Luc Donckerwolke, who was previously responsible for the design of Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat and Skoda models at the Volkswagen Group. Donckerwolke will also be head of the Hyundai Motor Design Center.

While design is a crucial element for a luxury brand, customer service is perhaps even bigger, especially after the new wears off. The Genesis offers complimentary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, including valet service that will pick up your car, leave one in its place, and return it when finished.


Wood trim is used throughout the cabin, and the switches are brushed aluminum. The instruments are luminescent dials, and a large LCD screen is tastefully integrated into the center of the instrument panel, a nice touch since many manufacturers these days make their screens look like tablets that have been thrown onto the dash. The screen has several viewing options, such as being able to show two camera views and the navigation map. There are nine airbags, including one for the driver’s knees.

The G90 has a suite of safety features such as lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display and emergency braking. The backup camera also has a top-down view that is great for pulling into tight parking spaces.

Establishing a stand-alone luxury brand is a considerable undertaking, and Hyundai seems to be on the right track with the G90.

2017 Genesis G90 Premium

Engine: 3.3-liter, 365-hp V-6

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Rear-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 124.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,630 pounds

Base price: $68,100

As driven: $69,050

MPG: 17 in the city, 24 on the highway