2017 Genesis G90 at Detroit Auto Show

2017 Genesis G90 at Detroit Auto Show

There was an air of excitement at Hyundai’s exhibit at the Detroit Auto Show. They were getting ready to introduce their new luxury brand, Genesis to the world. As their press conference opened and Genesis revealed the new G90 flagship, a thought passed through many heads: No one would have thought that an automaker who launched their first vehicle in 1986 – the Excel subcompact – would be launching a luxury brand.

How did Genesis come to be?

First-Generation Hyundai Genesis

First-Generation Hyundai Genesis

The Genesis story starts back in 2007 at the New York Auto Show when Hyundai showed off the Genesis concept sedan. It was a departure for the Korean automaker in a number of areas. The Genesis concept was the first Hyundai vehicle to feature rear-wheel drive and a V8 engine. A production model would follow in 2008 at the Detroit Auto Show.

The Genesis wasn’t the most stylish sedan when it was first introduced, with the general impression being the design was very generic. But the Genesis sedan had a couple of a couple of things going for it. First was an all new 4.6L V8 engine with 375 horsepower. Second was Hyundai’s providing a lot of value in a car for a surprising. All Genesis models sedans came with leather, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, and much more.

Later in 2008, Hyundai introduced the Genesis Coupe. Unlike the sedan which focused on providing a lot luxury at a shocking price, the coupe would focus on proving an excellent drive at a surprising price. The coupe had the right ingredients to be alternative to the usual suspects in the class; a choice of either a turbo-four or V6, sports suspension, larger brakes, and sharp looks.

So far so good, but Hyundai decided to up the ante. At the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Korean automaker

announced the Equus flagship would be coming to the U.S. in 2010. The Equus was aimed at the likes of the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A tough class to break into and one that you can’t sell people on with an ‘excellent value’. Hyundai pulled out all of the stops with such items as having your vehicle picked up for service and you being left with a loaner.

Hyundai would continue to update and refine these three models with new engines, transmissions, luxury appointments, and in the case of the Genesis sedan, a full redesign. But this was Hyundai’s way of testing the waters. Would people want an expensive model from Hyundai? The results pointed to yes.

In November of 2015, Hyundai announced that Genesis would become its own brand.

What will be part of the Genesis lineup?

The current Genesis sedan and the next-generation Equus will be the first two models in the lineup. But they will have different names. The Genesis sedan will now be called the G80, and the next-generation Equus will wear the G90 name. There will also compact sedan, coupe, and a crossover down the line.

You mentioned the next-generation Equus/G90. Is there anything we should know about that?

2017 Genesis G90 Rear End at Detroit Auto Show

2017 Genesis G90 Rear End at Detroit Auto Show

A few things. The G90 is the first model in the Genesis lineup to debut a new design language called Athletic Elegance that will combine elements of luxury and sport into a vehicle’s look. Size-wise, the G90 is slightly longer than Equus. Moving inside, Genesis filled G90 with a fair amount of luxury appointments and technologies that should give the German competitors something to worry about.

Power will come from two different engines. The base is a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Optional will be a 5.0L V8 with 420 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic sends power to the rear wheels. Optional for the first time will be Hyundai’s H-TRAC all-wheel drive system.

When and where will I be able to pick either Genesis model?

The G80 will be available sometime this summer as a 2017 model. We don’t know when the G90 will be available. You’ll be able to pick one up at your local Hyundai dealer.

Will Genesis take off?

That’s a question we cannot answer at this time. It has been almost twenty-seven years since a luxury brand was launched – Infiniti and Lexus both were introduced in 1989. Trying to break into the luxury class is a monumental task that takes years to build a reputation. But Hyundai does have some experience with selling luxury models that should give some guidance with Genesis. Also, Genesis has brought in some folks from BMW, Bentley, and Lamborghini to help them out.

It is a wait and see matter. But Genesis seems to be getting off on the right foot.

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