There was a time when comparing a car from a South Korean company with the top tier offerings from automakers in Germany was craziness. No automotive writer in their right mind would do it. Even those outside their right mind wouldn’t. Times have changed, however, and Genesis is leading the charge. Having newly distinguished the brand in 2016 from parent Hyundai, Genesis has two competitive new offerings: A sporty G80 sedan, and the luxurious G90. This week, we’ve taken a look at the G90 3.3T. Genesis claims the G90 is quieter than any other in its class. They also boldly claim their G90 is 7% more stiff than the Mercedes Benz S550. These are huge claims. And Genesis thinks it can be done for tens of thousands less.
Here’s the really crazy thing: With the Genesis G90 3.3T, they’re absolutely right.
2017 Genesis G90: The Good
Genesis has a lot going for it. If you consider what customers of a BMW 7 series car, or the Mercedes S550 LWB (long wheelbase), are expecting, this is what you find in the Genesis G90 3.3T. Everything about this car is on par with its German competitors. Genesis has gone with a more boxed figure for external styling, similar to the 7 series. It fits the car well. External finish is exceptional. Build quality on the Genesis is a very long way from some of the Hyundai and Kia cars from a decade ago. Heavy doors and tight, equal panel gaps reflect an obsessive focus on top quality, carefully assembled build. Full LED lights adorn the exterior, rounded out with high intensity bi-xenon headlights. Optional on the G90 5.0 are full LED headlights. Wide stance and modern suspension absorb nearly everything the road throws at you, all while nearly eliminating old-fashioned big car sway.
The list of features included in the G90 3.3T, thanks to fixed pricing, is lengthy. All of the appointments you’d expect in a nearly six figure car are here: Full driving aides, soft close doors, Genesis logo puddle lighting, rear seat console controls, napa leather, power rear privacy shades. Interior sound deadening is as good as Genesis claims. Double laminated glass all around, and very solid build, reduces all but the loudest road noise. Infotainment is top shelf, punctuated by a 17 speaker custom Lexicon sound system. A 12.3” LCD screen that runs at 720p sits at the center of the dash. This mobile friendly car has wireless charging. Open pore wood and brushed aluminum finishes abound, on par with cars in this class.
Ride is easily the same as a BMW 7 series. On paper, the 3.3L twin turbo V6 looks wimpy compared to the big Germans, but it pumps out a spritely 365 hp at 6,000 rpm. Advanced, rear wheel bias, all-wheel drive, push the G90 to speed briskly. For an extra couple thousand, you can opt for the 420 hp naturally aspirated V8. Personally, I prefer the 3.3T V6 over the V8. It offers a fuel mileage advantage and still gives you gobs of performance. Both engines put power through an eight speed transmission; which you can barely tell is there. Slam on the breaks, and the G90 pulls you down for a stop quickly while maintaining control. Despite its size, it still feels a capable cruising machine in strait lines and twisty roads.
The best part of the Genesis is the value. At $72,200 USD ($87,000 CAD), the fully loaded Genesis G90 5.0 offers everything you find in a $116,000 S550 4MATIC. Despite the nameplate difference, there is little to distinguish the Genesis G90 from the S550. Points added to the G90 when you include the insane 3 year, 5 years in Canada, of maintenance included, fixed pricing and full concierge service. It’s a huge return on investment. That’s what luxury sedan owners are interested in, right?
2017 Genesis G90: The Not So Good
For all the things the Genesis does very well, it is the first try at the high end luxury segment for them. The G90 is not perfect, though not far from it. The focus on ride comfort and economy results in a delay in response from the throttle. G90’s computer and transmission try to sort out the most efficient way to accelerate. There’s a lot of power there, but it takes a bit of coercing to get. For two passengers, the G90 is as much, or more, comfortable than the driver. However, because of the center console stashed away, a third passenger would definitely be getting second class seating. Sport shaped seats create a small, flat space for the third passenger. It’s awkward and uncomfortable for any bottoms wider than a young child.
While the Genesis G90 is equipped with three seat anchor points, and two LATCH connections, the car isn’t quite suited to three abreast kids seats. Though, one wonders if many Genesis owners will be buying the car as a family hauler. Stickers in the door sills warn parents against letting their kids rest their heads on the side of the seats, where side curtain airbags can harm them. Also missing is the option, or inclusion, of a panoramic sunroof. Feels a bit like nit picking, but this car is competing with the cream of the German crop.
For all the attention to detail Genesis has in the interior, it’s strange to find two small, cheap feeling, molded plastic paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. An interior adorned with lush leather, half a dozen different types of memory foam, it’s a shame the brushed aluminum trim didn’t find its way onto the paddle shifters. They really stand out. We also missed integration with Android messaging. The G90 wasn’t quite able to send text messages from our mobile. It didn’t notify the driver when a new text came in, nor did the car read or display the text over the audio system. This could have been simple user error, and the options were missed, but there was nothing obvious.
While the driver aids worked great, even in heavy rain, I felt like it was a fight for control of the G90 during regular driving. This isn’t really a complaint against the G90, though, since all cars at this class have driving aids like this. Consider it a general observation.
2017 Genesis G90: Should I Buy It?
If you’re in the market for a top shelf, all the toys, full body length luxury sedan: Yes. With the G90, your only choice is twin turbo V6, or V8. If you want the direct German sedan competition, go with the G90 5.0 (V8). If you’re feeling a bit thrifty, or just want to “do your part” for the environment and burn less gas, go for the G90 3.3T. In either case, you’re making a deal with high value proposition, to use a term you executives use. Probably. People will call me crazy for saying this, until they’ve driven one themselves, pick the G90. Even over the Germans.