In late 2015, Hyundai broke off the Genesis model into its own brand as a luxury manufacturer. Here’s a look at the two models celebrating their rebirth.
A new luxury brand is born.
On Nov. 4, 2015, Hyundai announced that it was branching off the Hyundai Genesis nameplate into a new Luxury brand. Genesis would be a new beginning, a more refined vehicle than the Hyundai.
“We have created this new Genesis brand with a complete focus on our customers who want smart ownership experiences that save time and effort, with practical innovations that enhance satisfaction,” said Euisun Chung, Hyundai Motor Company Vice Chairman.
Genesis—for the Hyundai Motor Group—isn’t just about new cars, but new beginnings. They want to break out of their value-background and into one where buyers are more “discerning”. With their sights set on some heavy hitting German auto manufacturers, Hyundai Motor Group launched their first cars under the Genesis brand.
“The Genesis models will provide technological innovation, excellent driving performance and luxury to customers,” said Dr. Woong Chul Yang, Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Groups R&D Division. “Every Genesis model will be created with the needs of our customers in mind, so the resulting car will perfectly meet their needs without any unnecessary burden or excess.”
And they’ve started their high-end lineup with two quick and luxuriant sedans that definitely fit the bill, and hit hard with longer-lived driving machines.
Genesis G80 – Revitalizing the Classy Driver’s car
During one of the high-revving auto journalist-only events we are privileged to be invited to, we got a chance to check out the all-new Genesis G80. Unlike it is longer-lived brethren (the G90 was released first), the G80 is a driver’s car.
So much so that there’s three engines instead of just two. A naturally-aspirated, 311HP, 3.8L is the base engine for the G80, and the 420HP, 5.0L takes the second spot. There’s also a 365HP, 3.3L turbocharged engine – the 3.3T Sport trim.
This last trim is the one we got to experience at the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s annual Run to the Sun high-speed, high-horsepower event.
We only got 20 minutes with the Genesis G80, and all those minutes were spent in the driver’s seat. (Not that we’re complaining about this… it just doesn’t give one time to look at the details.)
They’ve also improved responsiveness in their 8-speed automatic transmission. It feels quicker, but the G80 weighs nearly 300lbs less than the G90 and it’s a full 10-inches shorter. A vehicle that much more agile is going to feel quicker.
On fun, curvy roads like the ones we drove, the Genesis G80 feels competent and motivated to go even faster. It feels about how the original Hyundai Genesis felt, but more dignified. Faster. More adult. And it was good.
The Genesis G80 is competitively placed with an introductory price of $41,750—the start of the luxury market.
Genesis G90 – Rebirth of the Executive’s Car
We also got a chance to check out the Genesis G90 for a week. During that week, we found that we couldn’t properly utilize the G80 because we couldn’t be both driver and rear passenger—and the G90 was definitely made for the rear passenger.
You know it’s made for the rear-seat passenger (and the passenger-side, rear passenger specifically) when there are controls in the rear for everything.
Don’t like the music? Change it. Want it from your phone instead of the spare player the driver has? Override the Bluetooth and start playing from your phone. Desire a different temperature from either front seat passenger? Have your pick via the three-zone heating. Want to move the front passenger seat? Well, there’s a button for that, too.
While the driver’s seat is comfortable and an enjoyable place to be, Genesis tailors the G90 to those who pay someone else to drive. That doesn’t mean they skimped on the creature comforts for drivers, though. The driver’s seat is 22-way customizable. There’s a heated steering wheel and heated seats for all.
The infotainment system doesn’t disappoint either. They’ve given it a Lexicon Premium Sound System with QuantumLogic, a 10-inch subwoofer, Clari-Fi music restoration, and 17 speakers. Standard. It can even be had with a Qi wireless charger for convenient recharging.
Under the hood there are two choices in powertrain – the 365HP, 3.3L twin-turbocharged V6 or a 420HP, 5.0L V8. Regardless of engine, the G90 comes with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and intelligent drive modes.
It has either rear- or all-wheel drive, but it’s not the main company’s first rear wheel drive offering. Hyundai Motor Group took the lessons they learned from the Kia K900 (their first rear-wheel drive on this platform) and used it in developing the Genesis series.
We had the 3.3L engine and it loved to sing its deep tones to the world at every tap of the gas pedal. It seemed to want more, but the G90’s vast size kept us from unleashing it in full on the tight curves of the mountain hills where we like to shake down new models like this.
So, did they achieve their goals? Yes and no. A “discerning” buyer would notice the leftover excess plastic from the molding process, and they’d notice they’re plastic instead of some sort of metal.
Will buyers look that close? It depends on how “discerning” they are. Maybe it depends on how much time they spend in the back seat, or mayhaps how much they care about whether the coat-holders are plastic or metal. Who knows.
Genesis’ flagship model is priced for those discerning customers, at an MSRP of $68,350 (not as tested).
Genesis – The Future of a Brand
There is more on the horizon for Genesis, too. The G70 will be out soon, fitting into the sports sedan segment. It will be the final sedan in their lineup, though coupes and SUV/CUV are expected in the future.
Just like GBXM, Genesis has been through a rebirth—though, their sales numbers are much better than ours.
Much like their German counterparts, they have come up with their future, their Vision. The Vision G Coupe Concept, unveiled in 2016, is the epitome of Genesis Motor Group’s desire to balance luxury with sport in their fledgling high-end brand.
“The Genesis G70 is the latest demonstration of our dedication to delivering innovative, customer-oriented vehicles,” said Dr. Yang. “We will continue to focus our R&D efforts on the development and expansion of the Genesis brand.”
Just as we can’t wait to see what Genesis holds in its future, we hope you can’t wait to see what the future of Gearbox Magazine holds for you.
Photos courtesy of Robert Isaacs, The Auto Reporter, and Doug Berman, Berman Photography.