It’s hard to imagine a more daunting challenge for an automotive designer or engineer. Imagine it: You work for a new automotive label – Genesis. Yes, your new brand has its roots in the now well-established nameplate of Hyundai. However, it’s your mission to shoot higher than that parent company.
Your object is to create a luxury car to compete directly with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus , Infiniti, Acura and Jaguar. The car you build will be the first of its kind — making an all-important first impression upon the automotive world. If the car misses its mark, the brand could immediately be viewed as a pretender to the throne. If you get it right, Genesis will be on its way to competing for a chunk of the lucrative luxury car market.
The result of that potential drama is the all-new 2017 Genesis G90 – the flagship car for this new make, a notch above the G80 in their small, but promising family. Starting around $69,000, the G90 looks to incorporate all of the essential elements of luxury, grand tour driving. The car successfully delivers comfort, power, technology and handling.
The driving experience is absolutely pleasurable. Engine response is immediate. There’s very little heaviness in the handling, even as it glides over bumps with a dignified shrug. The size of the vehicle leaks in a bit of understeer, but that’s a quibble. When you add outstanding build quality to its complete technological suite of driver’s and comfort aids, the G90 checks every box on its birthday.
The G90’s engineers deserve a heartfelt salute for realizing a true luxury grand tourer needs some genuine power under the hood to power its way through all driving conditions. This Genesis loads up a 5.0 liter V8 engine producing 420 horsepower. In this era of the fading V8, when automakers are abandoning big engines for smaller power plants retooled with turbochargers, Genesis utilized a legitimate eight cylinder heater under the G90’s hood.
That V8 sounds every bit like a true performance engine. In the adjustable Sport driving mode, the G90 will jerk the head back with aplomb — or it would if the leather seats weren’t so supportive of your neck. The muffled roar of this fine engine is perfectly tuned — throaty enough to be sexy and authoritative, but not so loud as to be gaudy or juvenile.
With the G90 arriving and immediately proving itself as a worthy prototype for this first full year of Genesis, the only question remains how the car will be received by the luxury buyers. Will they play it safe and put their money down for the more familiar German or Japanese makes? Or, will the attraction of a new badge and the sexiness of driving something entirely new draw shoppers to the Genesis door?
The odds for the G90’s success are on the uptick because that old Genesis – the version of the car that was part of the Hyundai line before it branched out into its own make — was a solid seller atop the Korean company’s line. When test drivers get a hold of the G90 on the road, the old luxury guard could have something to worry about this year.