The launch of the Genesis brand in the region brings to maturity Hyundai’s plan of becoming a true premium class specialist. Automan attends the launch and gets a first drive in the new flagship G90
Author: Raj Warrior | Photography: Supplied
The big change that Hyundai has been aiming at over the past few years has happened and the Genesis brand has launched in the region. As part of a wider rollout, the Genesis brand is set to take the company into a territory of premium vehicles. This move is seen as the logical next move to the brand’s birth and connection with various top end Hyundais. It marks the complete abandonment of the Equus badge for the moment and subsumes the Centennial as well.
The launch in the region was centered around the opulent ambience of Dubai’s Armani hotel and involved a day trip out to the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. So what does the brand and the single launch car – the G90 bring to the market?
The brand has made some very astute moves. Over the past months it has brought onboard a management team that is familiar with the world of the high end car. The event was fronted by the brand’s new head, Manfred Fitzgerald, who has had previous experience with Audi and Lamborghini. Besides this, named designers are coming onboard.
The game plan seems solid and the investment matches the ideals – efforts are already in place to rollout the brand corporate identity across the region, with Hyundai showrooms currently being modified to offer exclusive areas for the new brand. As the lineup grows, the brand will sit apart in dedicated showrooms. The plan is for the smaller G80 to join the G90 by the year end. Future developments include at least two SUV-type offerings as well as the expected sports coupé.
The Genesis G90
In a world where product quality and refinement typify the luxury experience, the G90 fights a rather impressive battle. It is the replacement for the old Centennial but uses a whole lot of styling tweaks to differentiate itself from the wafty premium sedan. From the newly evolved hexagonal shaped grille, to the feeling of an odd familiarity about certain elements (like the almost Lagonda feel of the C-pillar or the Bentley like taillight treatment), you have to admit that while there is a lot of inspiration, the G90 on a whole looks the class.
At launch the G90 will be available with three engine variants although what’s on offer may depend on the individual market. The two older engines are the 3.8-litre V6 Di engine as well as the larger 5.0-litre V8, both Centennial stalwarts.
These are joined by a new generation 3.3-litre Lambda V6 twin-turbo unit that can offer a rather healthy 370PS of power alongwith lots of torque through the turbo-boosted midrange. All the three engines are offered along with the 8-speed automatic gearbox. The platform also has the ability to offer an all-wheel drive system that improves handling.
The interiors of the car offer the greatest improvement. The new cabin feels inviting and sports a whole host of luxury touches including nicely offset wood and chrome trim, plush leather and carpeting and seat functions for both the front and rear occupants. The G90 truly offers a limousine like feel with the generous legroom and seat ambience of the rear. In fact Genesis are quick to point out the connection with independent certification that it has for good seat posture.
Occupants also get access to the electronics suite offering rear entertainment. You can pair your phone, charge it wirelessly and even look up navigation points.
However, a good chunk of the money you spend for the cabin actually goes towards the high grade sound environment. With an excellent NVH base and some handy algorithms, the Clari-Fi audio system builds on the Lexicon 17-speaker system allowing for individual surround-sound zones in the four corners of the car.
The driver zone not only enjoys a large 12.3” high resolution central display, it also boasts of a twin dial IP with digital panels and the largest colour heads-up display unit that we’ve seen till date.
In addition the car gets a host of safety related features including adaptive cruise control with braking, lane watch and lane keeping and a blind spot monitoring feature to match with its other electronic gadgetry. The G90 also gets the by now standard around view monitor that uses four cameras to offer an adapted view of your surroundings.
The G90 is big and it is fast with either the 5.0-litre V8 which we drove on the outward leg to Abu Dhabi, or the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6. The torque readily compensates for any lack of top end power and the handy eight speed gearbox still packs away the top three gears as overdrive stops. Genesis has made a car that competes well with the larger German luxury models for ride quality and cabin conveniences. You can see the liberal use of technology, which places the car somewhere close to today’s S-class levels. It has even got that feel of waftability about it to match the German flagship, although we know that it doesn’t quite match up under the hood.
The G90 is rather well-mannered, very predictable in turns and you do get this feel of it somehow being close to the current Cadillac CT6 in general manners.
To put it very simply, the car is almost flawless for what it is trying to achieve. However, there may be a mismatch in where exactly the Genesis badge fits on the spend scale, that being the only reason for us to have told the Genesis bigwigs that we see it drawing in premium customers for evaluation, but only such customers who are looking for a larger car than they can currently look at. The typical D and E-segment premium buyer may still look askance at the G90, but then the brand did have to start somewhere. The G90 is the car we always wanted the Centennial to be, The question that Genesis face is whether the G90 can stay modern, top-of-line and eventually compete head-on with the S-classes and 7-series of the world. While residing in the Hyundai showroom, the G90 needs to be that little bit out of the regular Hyundai buyer’s ability to purchase.