DETROIT — Like ”The Force Awakens” is to “Star Wars”, the world’s youngest luxury brand, Genesis, made its coming out party by paying tribute to Lexus by launching with a big, yet elegant sedan designed to take aim at the world’s most iconic luxury car, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Unlike Lexus, the 2017 Genesis G90 has been here before, bearing the name Hyundai Equus. The answer is yes, by all appearances, the Genesis G90 looks the part of a giant-slayer, with much sharper, more exquisite lines than its predecessor. The question now is, will Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury division be able to charge Mercedes money for its Seoul-full Benz impersonator, or will it wait a year or so after launching with a “special price,” like the first-year Lexus LS400?
Genesis comes along at the right time, as chief design officer Peter Schreyer, initially hired to sharpen up Kia, now also leads Hyundai Motor’s newly formed Prestige Design Group. At the same time, Hyundai Motors has shown much-needed improvement in its dynamic chassis tuning. The Hyundai Design Group calls Genesis’ styling “Athletic Elegance,” “which embodies the beauty of energy exploding through masterful control, like the moment when an archer focuses his entire strength and spirit into the tip of an arrow.”
Point is, the Genesis G90 styling is a vast design improvement over the Hyundai Equus sedan, with a big, imposing flat-nosed grille worthy of say, a Maserati, leading into the elegantly creased lines.
Genesis says (let’s get used to referring to this as a brand name) the G90’s overall body rigidity has been increased to a point 6-percent higher than that of the Mercedes S550, because of 52-percent advanced high-strength steel, three times the amount used in the old car, and because of 650 feet of advanced structural adhesives.
A new 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 potentially makes the optional Tau V-8 superfluous, with 365 hp @ 6,000 rpm to the eight’s 420 hp @ 6,000 rpm, and perhaps more importantly in a big sedan, 376 lb-ft. @ 1,300-4,500 rpm, vs. 383 lb-ft. at 5,000 rpm. Either is standard with a second-generation eight-speed automatic, and either is available with rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The “Smart Shift and Driver Control” transmission feature adjusts shift character, engine torque response and suspension damping to the driver’s style.
While the rest of the world has moved away from attaching premium options and accessories to bigger engine options, Genesis has not. Rear-seat dual-monitors with 9.2-inch high-definition screens controllable from the rear seat are standard only on the V-8 model. The 5.0-liter model also gets heated and cooled electronically adjustable rear outboard passenger seats – 12 ways on the left seat, 14 ways on the right.
The G90 lays claim to a very quiet cabin, with laminated acoustic glass and such improvements as a three-layer weatherstrip on the doors, double sound-proof glass insulation to the rear glass, 20-percent thicker carpet and headliner thickness and a plate foam pad sound block for rear passengers.
A 12.3-inch high-definition widescreen in the center stack operates the audio-visual system controls, including a one-megapixel digital parking camera and a high-resolution 360-degree Multi-view monitor with steering guidelines.
The interior ambient lighting mood lamps come in seven selectable colors, and the premium audio is a Lexicon surround-sound with 17 speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer.
The 2017 Genesis G90 goes on sale later this year, with five additional Genesis models planned for the next five years.