Hyundai’s Genesis brand plans to start selling vehicles in the UK, Germany, and Switzerland by early 2020. The small-scale venture will initially be restricted to one boutique outlet per country, in London, Munich, and Zurich.
Sales will be done exclusively online via direct marketing, so there will be no dealers as such, only highly efficient service operations tucked away in the suburbs. Although outright vehicle purchase is an option, Genesis brand chief Manfred Fitzgerald, who joined the company from Lamborghini, expects the bulk of the business to be lease deals. “We can do multi-vehicle arrangements with a sedan in summer and a SUV in winter. We also provide free loan cars, collect-and-deliver maintenance, and a variety of tailor-made user models.”
As with Maybach’s long defunct personal liaison manager scheme, building a one-on-one customer relationship is pivotal. Also on the cards are regular over-the-air updates, tailormade IT packages, and global assistance such as customized rentals and access to EVs in restricted areas.
Speaking of EVs, Genesis plans to offer three emission-free models, starting in late 2020 with a small-to midsize crossover. Next, in 2021, will be a mid-range sedan, followed by a four-door GT in 2022. In the long run, Genesis wants to use a single, modular convergence vehicle architecture that would enable vehicles with combustion engines, plus plug-in hybrid and pure EV powertrains, providing total flexibility in terms of technology and capacity.
In terms of conventional powertrains, the six-model Genesis range will be based on three different platforms: G70 and GV70, which are aimed at BMW 3-Series and X3; G80 and GV80 (aimed at 5-Series and X5); and G90 and GV90 (aimed at 7-Series and X7). All six models are to be in place by 2019, apart from the G90, which won’t be renewed before 2021.
After catching a glimpse of GV80 at the New York Auto Show, we recently had an opportunity to drive the G70 that was developed with a little help from Albert Biermann, formerly BMW’s M division R&D chief. Available in RWD and AWD drive form, the new saloon is pretty, roomy, comfortable, and safe. Handling felt compromised a little by the all-season tires, and sport mode is essential for advanced driving pleasure.
Three different engines are earmarked for the G70 in Europe: a 204-hp 2.2-liter diesel, a 250-hp 2.0-liter gasoline turbo-four, and a 370-hp 3.3-liter V-6. The latter model is a bargain M3. It goes like stink, smokes like the Marlboro Man when pushed hard with all the stability controls switched off, and its plain-Jane livery should make it virtually invisible to the Highway Patrol.