Sedans may be shrinking in popularity, but there’s still growing competition in the luxury space. Genesis, the high-end brand that falls under the Hyundai umbrella, stands out thanks to its no-hassle fixed pricing and a unique business model that reflects a changing shift in the automotive landscape.
Genesis is a young niche brand – it has been in Canada for only three years – but it has been busy. To date, it has three sedans in its portfolio – the G70, G80 and G90. For 2020, its flagship G90 gets a facelift that’s more on par with a complete redesign.
Powered by a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V-8 engine with 420 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque, the G90 comes with a long list of safety, technology and convenience features. At $89,750, the price may seem steep, but it’s all-inclusive. There are no extra hidden fees – that price includes freight, shipping and five years of free maintenance. Unlike the competition, there are no confusing options to consider. In fact, the options are few. A factory-special-order G90 with a smaller engine (a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V-6) is available for $86,750 and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 10-inch seat-back-mounted displays is offered for $2,500. That’s it.
The purchase and ownership model are unique and refreshing, too – a welcome change for people who cringe at visiting a dealership to go car shopping. “It’s all about respecting your time," Richard Trevisan, brand director at Genesis Motors Canada, explained during the Canadian press launch of the G90 in Jordan, Ont., about 100 kilometres west of Toronto. "We offer a better purchase and ownership experience.”
Genesis has followed in the footsteps of Elon Musk and Tesla. It has no traditional dealerships. Everything starts online via the Genesis website. You can book a test drive, configure a car, get a credit application for leasing or financing, and even purchase a vehicle entirely online. Like Tesla, it has three boutique retail shops set up in high-traffic areas, such as the Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga.
If you want to test-drive a G90, it’s simple. Book it online, and a driver and vehicle will come to your home, office, gym or spa – wherever you wish to go for a spin. You can even buy a vehicle from the comfort of your home. And because it’s a fixed price, there’s no need to haggle with a commission-based salesperson. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes, is also convenient and time-saving. A Genesis representative will pick up your car and leave you another Genesis vehicle to use while your oil change is being done. There’s no need to wait for hours at a dealership, and there’s no extra charge.
Along the winding country roads from Jordan to Ancaster, the G90 is powerful and nimble, hugging the pavement impeccably despite its large size and hefty 2,250-kg curb weight. It’s well balanced, secure and sure-footed along curves and, at cruising speeds, extremely quiet and comfortable. The full-time all-wheel-drive system is Canadian-made – it’s developed by Magna International in Orillia, Ont.
At rest stops, the sight of the G90 triggered questions from many curious people who were unfamiliar with the vehicle and the Genesis brand. Trevisan admitted that there’s work to be done to get the message out. In 2018, only 81 G90s were sold in Canada, but he’s optimistic that number will climb with this refreshed version, even despite stiff competition from top-selling established competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which starts at $108,100.
“The business model really separates us from other brands. We are also making luxury more affordable,” Trevisan explained. “In the G90, everything is part of the price. [At] our competitors, you’ll see a price, but you’ll have to add certain features, and the price keeps going up.”
Bold and dramatic, the G90’s new design is impossible to miss on the road, especially its gigantic front grille, which will be the new face of the Genesis brand moving forward. The interior is lavish with plush Italian leather upholstery and natural wood accents. The designers, engineers and executives aren’t simply borrowed from its mother company, Hyundai. Genesis tapped veteran Luc Donckerwolke, formerly of Bentley, Audi and Lamborghini, to be the chief designer for Genesis and the entire Hyundai Motor Group, and Manfred Fitzgerald, who was director of brand and design at Lamborghini, to be the executive VP and global head of the Genesis brand.
And Genesis isn’t resting on its laurels. It has ambitious plans to introduce a new vehicle every year, starting with an SUV next year. It also plans to open 30 brand showrooms across Canada in the next two years, the first in London, Ont.
- Base price: $86,750
- Engine: 5.0-litre DOHC V-8 with 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque; 3.3-litre twin-turbo V-6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque
- Transmission/drive: Eight-speed automatic all-wheel-drive
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 15.4 L (city); 10.2 L (highway); 13.1 L (combined)
- Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Lexus LS, Porsche Panamera, Jaguar XJ, Tesla Model S
Genesis calls this version of the G90 a facelift, but everything on the exterior has changed except for the doors. Up front, a massive, impossible-to-miss chrome crest grille with a new cross-hatch diamond pattern steals the spotlight. Also new are quad-LED headlights, LED taillights and distinct 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. At the rear, dual exhaust outlets are integrated into the bumper, and the former Genesis winged logo has been replaced with its name, making the vehicle look similar to a Lincoln from the back. The rear doors are long and open wide, so it’s easy to get inside. But be wary – in tight parking spots, it’s easy to ding them against other cars.
An upscale interior offers modern touches, including a 12.3-inch touch-screen navigation system and connectivity features such as a wireless charging port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The front driver’s seat is 22-way power-adjustable; the front passenger’s seat moves 16 ways.
The right rear seat – the best place to sit for a relaxing, chauffeured ride – moves 14 ways and has excellent leg room, thanks to a button that slides the front passenger seat far forward. The rear seats are vented and heated; however, there’s no massage function. Two rear vanity mirrors are a nice touch.
The 5.0-litre V-8 is powerful, fast, well balanced and fun to drive. Different driving modes (eco, comfort, sport and custom) let you change the engine and transmission behaviour, as well as the suspension and the steering feel. At cruising highway speeds, the cabin is quiet and comfortable. And the fuel economy isn’t too bad, either; after a day of driving more than 200 km, the fuel economy rating was 10.8 L/100 km. Unfortunately, there’s no auto start-stop button that kills the engine when stopped to save fuel. Most competitors have that.
The G90 has a slew of standard safety technology features – high-beam assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, forward collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, reverse-parking collision-avoidance assist and safe-exit assist, which uses rear radar to detect if a bike or motorcyclist is approaching, making it unsafe to open the door. Another plus is a smart posture-care system, which lets you input your height and weight to determine the best driver’s-seat position for your body.
Cargo space remains the same as in the last model – 444 L, which provides ample room for several golf bags or shopping bags. The space is deep and has a pass-through system to carry longer items like skis.
The verdict: 8.5
Besides the bold design and lavish interior, a unique business model and fixed pricing make the Genesis G90 stand out from the competition.
The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.
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