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2017 Genesis G90 Preview

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2017 Genesis G90 kicks off a new luxury brand with some high-dollar flourishes; will high-rent shoppers follow suit?

The Genesis G90 is the new range-topping luxury sedan from South Korea's Hyundai. Don't call it a Hyundai any more, though--the automaker is splitting off what was its Equus sedan, as well as the former Genesis sedan, into a new Genesis brand.

In case you're keeping a scorecard, the G90 is the successor to the Equus; the Genesis sedan, after an update, will become the Genesis G80. Hyundai says it will launch five more Genesis models in the next five years. Along with the G90 and G80, the model range is expected to include a large SUV and possibly a coupe-like variant of it, as well as a new two-door model inspired by the alluring Vision G concept.

The explicit goal is to establish Hyundai as a global luxury player, while substantially rebuilding its flagship sedan to be a more credible rival for vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, and Audi A8, not to mention the Cadillac CT6 and upcoming Lincoln Continental.

Genesis G90 styling

To pen the G90, Hyundai created a new design team dedicated to this and future Genesis vehicles. In turn, that team came up with a new design language that draws from the Vision G concept to give the G90 a more powerful and more expressive look than the pastiche of cues worn by the Equus. While there's a strong resemblance to today's Genesis sedan at the front end--the tall grille's trapezoidal shape, the winged badge, the underlining of LEDs--the G90 has a less soft, more assertive profile, with a formal roofline that depends on clean lines for a strong presence. There's less surfacing and brightwork here than on cars like the S-Class, but the LED signatures of the taillamps flow with a flair that frames the simply drawn rear end and creates most of its visual interest.

The G90's cabin spells out luxury with a wide, horizontally divided dash banded in wood and highlighted by a large infotainment screen in the center of the dash. Like the cockpit in the Genesis sedan, the G90's controls are laid out in discrete zones: there's a band of switches for climate controls, a region for the transmission shift lever, and a console section set off for a controller knob that accepts handwritten gesture input. The stitched-leather dash is tied in with ambient lighting and wood trim.

Genesis G90 performance

Performance wasn't the highlight of the Equus, but with time spent at the Nürburgring, the Genesis G90 could be a more compelling piece of hardware to toss around corners.

Power for the G90 comes from either a six-cylinder engine or a V-8. The six is a new twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6, with direct injection and a maximum of 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque when run on premium gas. Opt for the carry-over 5.0-liter V-8, and output rises to 420 hp and 383 lb-ft. No 0-60 mph times or top speeds have been released.

Both powerplants are coupled to an eight-speed automatic that Hyundai says has been redesigned for lighter component weight, smaller size, and better efficiency. No EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers have been released.

One big performance advantage the G90 will offer over the Equus is in drivetrain choice. While the standard configuration is rear-wheel drive, the G90 can be fitted with Hyundai's all-wheel-drive system, which made its way into the Genesis sedan when it was new for the 2015 model year. The system can send up to 40 percent of the G90's torque to the front wheels for better traction, and torque splits can change when the car is switched from Normal to Sport drivetrain calibrations. In Economy mode, the rear wheels get all the torque, to cut down on driveline friction.

Since it's aimed at the most hallowed names in the car business, the G90 gets lots of attention paid to its ride and handling. An adaptive set of controls called Intelligent Drive Mode allow drivers to configure steering, suspension, stability control, and powertrain responses through those modes (or to an Individual mode, with settings each chosen by the operator). The multi-link suspension design gets a Sachs/ZF set of adaptive dampers, and steering is said to be improved with better calibration and a more rigid steering column. Four-wheel disc brakes and 19-inch wheels and tires round out the performance package for U.S.-spec G90 sedans.

Genesis G90 quality

At 204.9 inches long, with a 124.4-inch wheelbase, the G90 now ranks alongside its big German rivals in the size of its footprint. The wheelbase is up 4.5 inches for big gains in rear-seat space, but also gives an assist to front-seat headroom, according to Hyundai. Trunk space is 15.7 cubic feet.

Fitting that space with top-drawer furniture meant ransacking suppliers for highly adjustable seats--the driver can position their seat with 22-way adjustment, the passenger, with 16-way adjustment, including leg-cushion extenders and power-adjustable bolsters. Both have memory control, heating, and ventilation. In the back seat of the G90, there's a heated three-seat bench on both the V-6 and V-8 car. V-8 sedans also have multi-adjustable outboard seats (12-way for the left seat, 14-way for the right seat) and ventilation, as well as four-way adjustable headrests and memory control.

The G90 also has layers of sound deadening and structural tweaks to make it a silent, steady cruiser. All its glass is laminated for better acoustics, there's thick insulation at the windows and wheel wells, and vitally to sound as well as handling, the G90's body is made in large part of high-strength steel. Hyundai claims the body is stronger than that of the S-Class.

Genesis G90 safety

How that affects safety is yet to be seen--the G90 hasn't been crash-tested by the IIHS or by the NHTSA. But with the Genesis sedan's excellent safety performance, we're betting the G90 will be the company's best-performing vehicle yet in those critical safety tests.

Along with the usual stability control and airbags, the G90 will offer adaptive cruise control with stop-start control; forward-collision alerts with automatic braking; blind-spot monitors; lane-departure warnings and lane-keeping assist, and surround-view cameras. A head-up display with nearly 10 inches of screen output is available.

Genesis G90 features

Other G90 features will focus on coddling its high-value occupants, folks who've come to depend on tablet displays as much as they have Nappa leather. For them, the G90 is outfitted with a 12.3-inch-wide high-definition central display: it serves as the output for the G90's infotainment system, which is controlled by that console-mounted, touch-sensitive puck. There's another 7.0-inch display in the gauge cluster for ancillary data.

Ambient lighting and an air-quality controller for the cabin keep the atmosphere chill, while a Qi wireless charging pad keeps mobile devices charged. Projection LED lighting casts the Genesis winged logo on the ground when the car is approached with the remote keyless fob; the G90 starts via a pushbutton. In the rear seat, a pair of high-def 9.2-inch screens can be controlled from the rear-seat console. A handsfree power trunklid, power sunshades, wiper de-icers, and a heated steering wheel remove any traces of inconvenience injected by the outside world.

Finally, the G90's generously appointed audio system tackles the Burmesters and Bang & Olufsens of the world with Lexicon hardware, 17 speakers, and a 10-inch subwoofer. Streaming music from Bluetooth, USB, or satellite radio, it's also fitted with Harman's Clari-Fi digital sound processing, which tries to reconstruct the data scrubbed from low-fidelity digital music streams.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but the G90 goes on sale later in 2016.

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