The hunt for the elusive Luxury buyer is on with the all-new Genesis division.
We recently tested the G80 sedan, and came away mightily impressed – a dynamic, stylish, beautifully-equipped competitor to the BMW 5 series. But for the price of a lowly turbo 4-cylinder Bavarian, the G80 had 5.0-liters of rip snorting V8 muscle.
While Genesis is on safari for luxury brand competitors, it doesn’t stop at the G80, because with the larger G90, the brand is taking on the big game – Lexus LS, BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-Class.
So, does it come home with a trophy, or does it end up being trampled by big hooves?
Well, it certainly won’t go unnoticed. While the design is conservative – more so than the G80 – it’s a handsome beast. Our tester, dressed in London Gray and with subtle badging, had numerous people asking us if it was a Bentley, Mercedes, or a Lexus. So, it’s definitely in the ball park.
Taken in its own right, the G90 offers all the goods you’d expect on the outside, from LED headlights and taillights, to mirrors with puddle lamps that illuminate with the Genesis logo as you approach.
The G continues to impress with limousine-size dimensions. The rear door is extremely long (all the better to coddle those entering the rear seat) and the overall length was surprisingly close to a Ford F-150 we parked next to. To give you a sense of scale, the handsome 19-inch wheels look a bit smallish in the overall package. We’re sure we’ll see a few running on 21’s soon….
While the exterior is subtle, the interior is out to wow you as soon as you step inside.
It starts when you park yourself in the driver’s seat. With 22-way adjustability, and being hailed as the epitome of comfort from the German back and spine specialists at Aktion Gesunder Rücke (AGR to you and me), it is supremely comfortable and a throne fit for a captain of industry.
As comfy as you get in front, this may be one of the few cars we’d rather be driven around in. That’s because the rear seats are not only heated and ventilated, they feature 12-way power adjustability for the left rear seat and 14-way for the right rear, and feature a memory system as well. Not only do both seats recline, but in true limo fashion, the right rear passenger (the driver has the control too) can push a button that moves the front passenger seat forward for more legroom. Home, James….
And if that’s not enough, the rear folding center console serves up climate and info-tainment controls for the rear seat passengers as well. We’ve seen a similar setup in the Lexus LS, but that was a $100,000-plus car as tested, but in the $70,000 G90 it’s impressive value.
OK, the front seat is no penalty box, along with the ultra-supportive driver’s seat, you’re surrounded by the good life, including tailored, full-grain Nappa leather, and real wood and metal trim tastefully adorning the cabin. Not too blingy, not to Euro-austere, just an ideal blend of materials. Bespoke tailoring at its best.
The driver surveys his world with large analog gauges with an easy to read digital display in-between to call up the most important info. We also found the standard heads-up display useful. But for full effect gaze to the right and take in the massive, 12.3” info-tainment display, as beautiful to behold as it is to use. And since all the senses should be treated well, the G also features an excellent-sounding 17-speaker, Lexicon audio system.
Most important to us, with the plethora of controls, features and choices, it’s easy for a modern luxury vehicle to become completely confusing to operate, with a gazillion switches, or just as bad, trying to slam everything into a tablet-like display. Here again, the G90 finds that perfect blend of old-school switchgear, and modern on-screen controls, all easily accessed by a center controller.
Hop in, hit the pushbutton start, and you’d be able to figure out most everything pretty quickly and intuitively. No studying of owner’s manuals required.
So, with all this lavish lushness, and obvious limo-like luxury, is driving the G90 like wrangling a baby Beluga?
Actually, it’s a very good drive. Now it has less of the sportiness that we enjoyed in the G80, but we accept that the larger G’s mission is not to tear around your favorite twisty road. It does comport itself extremely well, (yes, it’s one of those cars you can say “comport”), and with the optional 420 horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic, the G feels quick off the line, and always has plenty of power in reserve.
When you want to dispatch lesser vehicles, (yes, you can also say “dispatch”), tapping the button into Sport Mode gives quicker response to the throttle, and faster shifts. Most of the time we left our tester in Smart Mode, letting it figure out the ideal blend of ride, handling and power, based on the driver’s demands. If there’s a down side, we found the steering feel to be a bit wooden, but the overall maneuverability is quite good for such a large car.
Helping navigate tight spaces is the multi-view camera, giving you a virtual overhead view, as well as calling up curbside views on the left and right side, and front and rear as well. Even with the G90’s long length, parking was a snap.
We’d stay in motion as much as possible, though.
Long distance cruising is where the G really shines, and it is supremely quiet, thanks to special attention to detail, like double-layered soundproof glass on all doors. Even the 19-inch wheels feature a sound-absorbing hollow structure to eliminate tire noise. Neat.
If all-out performance isn’t on the G90 buyer’s mind, safety certainly will be, and here, Genesis continues to be a leader in passive and dynamic protection. You’re surrounded by an armada of systems, including Lane Keep Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Smart Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.
We also like how seamlessly the smart cruise and lane keep worked. You can sense that the autonomous controls coming in the future will be well sorted out. Until then, it’s nice to have a helping hand in the daily drive. We especially liked how the cruise that will bring you to a complete stop in traffic, and then with a tap of the button, glide you back up to your preset speed as traffic allows.
And now we end up at the pricing section of our story. Interestingly, as we’ve noted Hyundai and sibling Kia no longer bargain-price their products to tempt consumers into their stores. The cars are so good, they can compete on equal footing.
With Genesis, it’s a little different. Although the Genesis name has been around for a few years, it’s really being launched as a true stand-alone brand now, and Genesis is willing to offer you some extremely attractive pricing to get you into that awesome 22-way adjustable driver seat.
The G90 comes pretty much loaded, whichever you choose. The 3.3T Premium with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 starts at $68,100. Our V8-powered 5.0 Ultimate rear wheel drive model was $69,700 – a small pittance for that extra V8 oomph. Add $2,500 for all wheel drive on either model.
For comparison, an S-Class Sedan starts (yes, starts) at $96,600. Noodling around on their website, we built a comparable S550 for $113,000. Gulp. The Lexus LS 460L starts out at $78,820. Well, that sounds reasonable. But comparably equipped, the LS came in at $100, 375. Gulp again.
We will note, that in this stratospheric air, names like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz carry a lot of prestige, and that Genesis is still earning its stripes. And without a dedicated dealer body – yet – Genesis will make do by concierging you and picking up and dropping off your car. Nice – but they will have to go to fancy shmancy stores to ultimately compete with the big boys.
But until then, the G90 is a lovely showpiece.
Handsome, vault-solid and quiet, superbly well-equipped, and maybe a bargain to boot. We think Genesis is well on their way to having a successful hunting season.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.