Test Drive: 2017 Genesis G90

Going after the German Trifecta

Which one is not like the others: Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai?

This simple test illustrates why Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea severed the Genesis from the Hyundai lineup and established it as a stand-alone premium brand. In the words of the marketing gurus behind Genesis, “We create the finest automobiles and related products and services for connoisseurs around the globe.”

Genesis offers those connoisseurs a choice between two full-size sedans, identified as the G80 and the G90; the latter being larger and more prestigious, and the subject of this week’s exhausted review.

While keen-eyed critics may find styling cues of the G90 obliquely familiar to other large sedans in the premium segment, it has no apologies to make. With a remarkably slippery 0.27 Cd, the G90 is a clean sheet of metal with distinctive lines enveloping proportions consistent with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and the S-Class of Mercedes-Benz. All good company to emulate, but can the contender from Korea compete with the Deutschland collective?

To answer, let’s start under the hood where a choice of two gas-fired power plants deliver punch to all four wheels (rear biased) through an 8-speed transmission. The base engine, which happened to power this week’s tester, is a twin-turbocharged 3.3L V6 capable of producing 365 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 376 lb-ft of torque at just 1,300 RPM.

Looking for more chops? The optional 5.0L direct-injected V8 furnace heats the Korean sled with the 420 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 383 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 RPM when combusting premium juice.

Both engines, and in-deed the G90’s complete drivetrain, have undergone extensive engineering to eliminate noise, vibration, and harshness. The success of which is immediately evident with a push of the Start button, bringing the G90 to life with discretion befitting a funeral chapel. That is of course until the 17-speaker Lexicon premium audio system with sub-woofer exchanges the chapel for a concert hall.

Audiophiles will appreciate the near silent operation of the G90. The vault-like environs allow the Lexicon system to replicate every nuance without the interference of externally-generated wind and tire noise. Even at highway speeds, the serenity within the G90 is outstanding, taking a backseat to none.

While its library-hush is a key attribute of the G90, it’s just the start of what impressed me with the less-expensive S-Class slayer. Genesis-supplied literature highlights the G90’s structural strength, citing its overall bending rigidity as 6% greater than that of the Mercedes-Benz S550.

I have no way of scientifically validating that claim, but I can tell vicariousmag.com readers this: The G90 is a remarkably solid sedan, which absorbs massive potholes without succumbing to shudder or rebound, and without any unwanted thump or jarring.

This rudimentary test assures me that the G90 is well put together, and its chassis well engineered. It’s adaptive suspension setup, combined with steering response, transmission shift-points, and stability control, can be adjusted collectively or independently to emphasize comfort or sport.

During my time behind the G90’s heated steering wheel, I chose the Smart setting, which allowed the car’s brain to provide me with optimal dynamics based on my driving style. And that style was predominantly laissez faire. You see, I find large sumptuous cars with great audio systems to be exceptionally relaxing to drive.

The more refined the ride, the more relaxed I become, and in the G90 I was like an old dog curled-up on an over-stuffed sofa while the owner was out. At least that’s how I envision my girl to be before she awkwardly clomps to the floor as I park the car.

The G90 is a delight to drive, and I would strongly argue that it gives up nothing to the German trifecta in terms of luxury and refinement. In fact, it delivers a smoother, quieter ride than that of the BMW 750i which I recently reviewed.

Despite the work that Genesis engineers performed on Germany’s demanding Nürburgring road course to endow the G90 with competitive handling capabilities, I would still give the edge to BMW’s far more expensive 750i. But really, who buys a land yacht such as these to sear the tires? Very few, I’d argue.

I asked early on in this review whether the contender from Korea can compete with the Deutschland collective? My answer is, “you bet.” No question, the G90 is built as solidly and accurately as any other mass produced premium luxo-cruiser. The materials in use in the plush cabin are of the highest quality, and the assembly of these parts is flawless.

With a fully-equipped price of $84,000 for the V6-powered G90 and $87,000 for the V8 version, the Genesis is significantly less expensive than its Audi, Bimmer, and Merc equivalents.

Tire for tire, the German trifecta may have the nod when it comes to raw horsepower and sheer performance, but not when it comes to pampering. The G90 – based on my hierarchy of needs – out-pampers the Audi and BMW, and is equally as good as the Mercedes-Benz.

One final area of disparity not in the favour of the Genesis, is snob appeal. The name “Genesis” may not hold the same cachet for people who care about that nonsense, and that’s ok. There are plenty of ways they can overspend to feed their pretension; the Genesis isn’t one of them.

2017 Genesis G90

Price as tested (before taxes): $84,000
Freight: included in price
Configuration: front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.3L V6, 365 hp / 376 lb-ft
Optional engine: 5.0L V8, 420 hp / 383 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km) 3.3L V6: city 13.7, highway 9.7
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km) 5.0L V8: city 15.2, highway 10.2
Warranty (basic): 5 years / 100,000 km
Competitors: Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Cadillac CT6 Sedan, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS460, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Related links:
Genesis Canada

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