Hyundai Launches Genesis Luxury Division

You learn a lot about a car following an 11-hour stint behind its wheel. After piloting the new Genesis G90 super-sedan, I was pleased to find—much to the satisfaction of my ever-aching back—that it has the best seats in the automotive world. These are not mere pews; they’re chiropractic Barcaloungers that cuddle, caress, support, and serenade each of the spine’s 33 vertebrae. In all my years of driving, I’ve never had a calmer coccyx.

Much of this comfort is due to the 22 power-seat adjustments that can tailor the driver’s throne to suit any spinal funkiness. The lumbar-support control was like having my own personal masseuse facilitating myofascial release.

It’s not just back-friendly seating that makes this South Korean marvel such a capable road warrior. Talk about silent-running. This thing is quieter than Sleeping Beauty after four Ambien. This quality comes courtesy of gorgeous, turbine-bladed, 19-inch alloys that feature sound-absorbing hollow chambers to subdue tire roar. Add to those the G90’s double-glazed side windows that smother wind noise and the resulting auditory experience is more hushed than a Trappist monk two years into a vow of silence.

As for engine noise—what engine noise? It’s as if the makers wrapped the mighty 5.0-liter, 32-valve V-8 in loft insulation and routed the exhaust to Nebraska. A napping infant makes more of a racket than this.

At this point in the article, you’re probably asking yourself, “So what, pray tell, is a Genesis G90?” Well (sharp intake of breath here), it’s a Hyundai. Albeit, a $71,000 Hyundai. Not that there’s a Hyundai badge to be seen anywhere on the car.

Just like Toyota sired Lexus in 1989 and Nissan birthed Infiniti the same year, Hyundai has decided to move uptown and launch its own luxury car division. It’s taking baby steps with the G90 and the smaller G80. But come 2021, there’ll likely be six models from which to choose.

Who’s going to buy a new Genesis? It might be someone deliriously happy with his or her Hyundai experience and ready to trade up. Or, someone bored at the prospect of another scary-faced Lexus or less than impressed with Infiniti or Cadillac. Don’t expect badge-obsessed BMW, Mercedes, or Audi owners to be shopping at the Genesis store anytime soon.

But maybe they should, because here is one of the finest luxury cars money can buy. Throw value and a long list of standard equipment into the equation and the G90 makes plenty of sense.

See it in the metal and it oozes class. It measures 205 inches nose to tail, which is within an inch or so of the latest long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7. And while its styling is a bit of an homage to an S-Class—with an Audi A8-inspired grille—it does have a distinct visual presence.

Open the door, slide behind that elegant helm, and gaze in awe at the G90’s Bentley-esque surroundings. The leatherwork, the wood veneers, and the brushed-satin metal are just exquisite.

Every bell and whistle comes standard. That best-of-the-best, 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system? Standard. Those reclining, heated, and ventilated rear seats? Standard. The rear window privacy screens and power-closing doors? You guessed it—standard.

Adding 1,200 miles to the G90’s odometer in three days driving from Florida to North Carolina and back had me mouthing superlatives over the car’s magic carpet-like ride, its buttery-smooth power delivery, and its nimble handling. Not to mention its ability to devour miles with such ease.

This impressive entry into the high-luxe market doesn’t reset the bar nor do anything drastically different than the competition. And it won’t be for everyone; simply not having an established, impress-the-neighbors badge on the hood will likely be the biggest dissuader. That, and having to explain to everyone that no, it’s not a Hyundai, it’s a Genesis.

But perhaps the notion of enjoying the G90’s luxury without the need to shout about it is appeal enough for some discreet buyers.

  • PRICE: $69,700/$70,650 as tested
  • ENGINE: 5.0-liter V-8
  • POWER: 420-hp
  • TORQUE: 383 pound-feet
  • TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
  • 0-60: 5.7 seconds
  • TOP SPEED: 145 mph
  • LENGTH/WIDTH: 204.9/75.4 inches
  • WHY WE LIKE IT: Because it’s more about the car and less about the flashy badge.

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