From £48,9468
Hyundai's new top-of-the-range luxobarge does quality and refinement supremely well but remains a fish out of water among blue-chip European and American rivals

Our Verdict

Hyundai Genesis
The Hyundai Genesis is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine

The Korean firm has made progress in its quest to match executive saloons from Audi, Mercedes and BMW, but on this evidence there's still work to do

  • First Drive

    2016 Genesis G90 review

    Hyundai's new top-of-the-range luxobarge does quality and refinement supremely well but remains a fish out of water among blue-chip European and American r
  • First Drive

    Hyundai Genesis first drive review

    Hyundai’s bargain E-class fighter is finally coming to the UK. This second-generation Genesis gets major upgrades and comes in right-hand drive
21 January 2016

What is it?

This is Hyundai’s new flagship model under its new flagship brand. Although there have been range-topping Genesis-badged models before (indeed, the current 3.8-litre Genesis executive saloon is still on sale in the UK), this G90 is the first of six all-new models.

This BMW 7-Series-sized full-size limousine will be joined by smaller G80 and G70 saloons. There will also be a mid-sized coupé and two Genesis SUVs, which are all due to arrive over the next four years.

The company says the new Genesis family is primarily aimed at Korea, the US, China and Middle Eastern markets. Sources say the brand is expected to ‘spread into Europe’ eventually, with the two SUV models most likely to arrive in showrooms.

Hyundai established a new ‘Prestige Design Division’ to develop the G90, and it’s fair to say that the company has thrown everything at creating this car. The effort kicks off with a completely re-engineered rear-drive platform. Aside from a 4.5in wheelbase stretch, the company says the new structure is 6% stiffer in “overall bending rigidity” than the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Some 52% of this structure is made from what Hyundai is referring to as advanced high-strength steel (up from 17% of the outgoing platform), while 650ft of adhesive is used to bond the structure together. Interestingly, the structure is also designed to cope with the ultra-onerous ‘small overlap’ frontal crash tests now being carried out by US authorities.

One area where Hyundai wants the G90 to be class-leading is on refinement. To this end, the cabin is lined with extra layers of sound-absorbing materials, including acoustic film on all the windows, three-layer weather seals on the doors and a single seal around the powertrain bay. The car features hollow 19in alloy wheels that help reduce the transfer of tyre noise into the cabin. Even the rigidity of the transmission housing has been improved, while a new variable intake valve has been designed to reduce intake resonance at specific engine speeds.

The car’s structure rolls on substantial subframes, with double wishbone suspension up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear. This V8 model offers four switchable driving modes and ACS adaptive damping that works on both rebound and compression. ‘HTRAC’ all-wheel drive is an option on this platform, with the power take-off sending up to 40% of the engine’s torque to the front wheels.

What's it like?

Even though the G90’s styling was overseen by Peter Schreyer (responsible for some of Audi’s landmark ‘Bauhaus-era’ cars), the G90 clearly fails to establish a distinctive design language. It’s big and imposing, certainly, but the car just doesn’t stand out or, more importantly, immediately deliver a fresh character of its own. The big grille, loosely based on the current Hyundai face, is a particular disappointment. If you are trying to launch a new automotive brand, this is not the way to announce yourself.

You could employ a similar criticism for the G90’s interior. It’s a festival of wood, leather and neatly drawn switchgear, and has a bespoke audio system. A big, clear head-up display and wide colour infotainment screen are standard, along with individual seats in the rear and 22-way adjustable front seats that have been approved by ‘Aktion Gesunder Rücken’ - the German campaign for healthier backs.

But while the cabin doesn’t have a stand-out design theme, it is undoubtedly beautifully constructed and assembled. And while European car makers move to massively reduce the button count, Hyundai sticks with the tested formula of a switch for every function.

The basic architecture - with a high centre console and high dash - encloses the front seat passengers rather nicely. The stubby shift lever is well placed and the head-up and widescreen displays are crystal clear. The front seats are superb, completely supporting this driver’s back, and the headrests can be placed to just kiss the back of the head.

The G90’s down-the-road refinement is impressive. The quietness of the powertrain and lack of suspension noise in the cabin did, however, rather allow what tyre noise there was to stand out. The lack of wind ruffle around the A-pillars and wing mirrors was outstanding, though.

Despite being tuned on the Nürburgring, of all places, the G90 is not designed to be flung around. It is simply too big and well-planted to do anything other than sweep its occupants along - although on the tight hill roads of northern Seoul it proved exceptionally easy to place. Despite isolating the occupants, the G90’s contact points are well weighted. The steering has a satisfying heft and the brake response is also beautifully judged. It is not inert by any means, but the car’s chassis does neatly balance itself between alertness and stability.

Ultimately, the G90 has a kind of commanding competence that allows the driver to relax and not think much about the mechanics of conducting the car.

Should I buy one?

You can’t, at least if you live in the UK or Europe. For the record, and while acknowledging that making direct currency conversions is never accurate, this super-plush machine sells for around £68,000 where it is available.

Styling and brand image aside, an owner would hardly feel short-changed, especially as Mercedes drives the S-Class further upmarket. There again, a decently equipped Audi A8 L is not so much more expensive.

It is certainly supremely refined and something of a consummate ground-covering machine. The front seats are just superb, and the G90 is both very pleasant to pilot and a fine way to be driven around.

But a new entry into a premium car market that seems to have locked out start-up brands has more than a mountain to climb. In isolation, the G90 is an impressive machine. But there can’t be many buyers willing to ignore the heritage and character of the European competition, even though the G90 would rarely be technically out-pointed by them.

Genesis G90

Location Seoul, Korea; On sale Now; Price £68,000 (est) Engine V8, 5038cc, petrol; Power 420bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 383lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerb weight 2595kg; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Top speed 150mph; Economy na; CO2/tax band na

 

Join the debate

Comments
19

21 January 2016
You've got to admire Hyundai's ambition. It may be a bit generic looking, but it sounds like a great technical achievement for a company with almost no experience in this area of the market. Actually, regarding the appearance, I'm not sure it's any worse looking than the rather bland S-class or 7 series if you ignore badge snobbery. Anonymity is not necessarily a bad thing: many captains of industry don't want to draw attention to themselves at work and probably have much more charterful cars in their garages at home.

22 January 2016
Looks like a very competent and well built and beautifully finished car. Arguably there is too much S class in the rear 3/4 view. And I prefer the Phaeton for its better balanced styling.

22 January 2016
Not a bad effort from bold stepping Hyundai. May not be a Lexus yet, but give it a throaty 180 Kw, 5Cyl. turbo diesel n I'll excuse all else....for now!

22 January 2016
I think it's a bit harsh to highlight the button count. Yes, modern European cars put the infotainment functions on screen, but I would be annoyed not have a button for eg, seat heating. None of the buttons pictured here would be out of place in the latest Audi/BMW/MB.

22 January 2016
Please bring this barge to Blighty. I would happily partake, after the Korean Embassy has sunk the Gemma Collins-sized depreciation. Partake of the limo, that is. Not Gemma.

22 January 2016
The build quality should give RR engineers sleepless nights when/if the Genesis SUVs get here if the price is right of course. Shame this won't make it, quite like the styling to be honest, I think Schreyer has done a good job.

22 January 2016
The Autocar has the target market of this car wrong. It is not aimed at the Germans here in the US but at Lexus, Infiniti and Accura, which have pretty well destroyed Cadillac and especially Lincoln here in the US. The Genesis is roughly equivalent to a Lexus and can easily see off the lack lustre Infinity and Accura offerings as neither Nissan nor Honda can afford the investment in a completely separate luxury division. The target market will like the visual reassurance that the car is from the respected Hyundai/Kia group. And at the same time it will nibble at the 7 series and the A8 - the Phaeton has just been withdrawn even from the US. That leaves only the Merc. S class safe for the moment.

ScottishRichard

22 January 2016
The heritage and character of the European competition has certainly been ignored in the States having sold over 42,000 of the original model like my G2 as it's called. I don't see what is supposed to be so special by the German rivals when you look at reliability (JD Powers) and price. I have had 3 previous Hyundai's, a total of 20 years motoring and the reliability was 100%, I kid you not. And each passed their MOT every time. How many German cars can claim that. This is a typical British review about Hyundai. dreadfully biased. They are umpteen American reviews on the G2, all singing its praises (the G90 seems to be the same as the G2 with some cosmetic body changes). Even the very patriotic Americans give it to the G" when rivalled against American equivalents, and give it on price in particular. My G2 is so smooth and luxurious to drive and is stacked with gizmo's, safety features and automatic systems. I priced a similar Mercedes, and to get the same equipment levels, the Mercedes was almost double the price. This car is not a fish out of water in comparison, and the styling is just superb. The wheels are works of art, absolutely beautiful. If the British are brain dead enough to keep being conned by the overpriced German cars, then so be it. Hyundai does not need the blinkered British market. They do well enough in the USA and the rest of the word. These British reviews get really shown-up by their American counterparts. With the internet, the British motoring press seem to forget that other world views can be obtained now, and they are loving the new Hyundai's.

25 January 2016
Nicholas Pike wrote:
The heritage and character of the European competition has certainly been ignored in the States having sold over 42,000 of the original model like my G2 as it's called. I don't see what is supposed to be so special by the German rivals when you look at reliability (JD Powers) and price. I have had 3 previous Hyundai's, a total of 20 years motoring and the reliability was 100%, I kid you not. And each passed their MOT every time. How many German cars can claim that. This is a typical British review about Hyundai. dreadfully biased. They are umpteen American reviews on the G2, all singing its praises (the G90 seems to be the same as the G2 with some cosmetic body changes). Even the very patriotic Americans give it to the G" when rivalled against American equivalents, and give it on price in particular. My G2 is so smooth and luxurious to drive and is stacked with gizmo's, safety features and automatic systems. I priced a similar Mercedes, and to get the same equipment levels, the Mercedes was almost double the price. This car is not a fish out of water in comparison, and the styling is just superb. The wheels are works of art, absolutely beautiful. If the British are brain dead enough to keep being conned by the overpriced German cars, then so be it. Hyundai does not need the blinkered British market. They do well enough in the USA and the rest of the word. These British reviews get really shown-up by their American counterparts. With the internet, the British motoring press seem to forget that other world views can be obtained now, and they are loving the new Hyundai's.
I admire your gall! Different markets, Americans in general look at vehicle far more practically than Brits. Indeed so do our European cousins. While the average suburban Brit thinks he/she has made it when a shiny Diesel VW ehem... I mean Audi S Line is parked in their driveway, the Germans are quite happy in their cloth seated, steel wheeled equivalent scoffing at the idea that those silly Brits will pay such a premium for what is in effect a Skoda with big alloys. And of course they are the recipient of the profits, just makes it all the better! The French of course make do with their practical diesel hatchbacks, dented, scraped and battle scarred. The Americans on the other hand rate value for money highly, the tangible things. It comes through in their journalistic pieces. Infiniti (G series) for instance has regularly gone toe to toe with BMW, Merc etc.... stateside and comes out on top or is competitive, values such as affordability, RELIABILITY are big issues even in luxury comparisons, and why not? Here British journalists are just brain washed in accepting what they are led to believe is good. Its different, how can it be better? How often have I read an article that mentions 'the badge darling', utter tripe. I would say that the american market is far less daring when it comes to styling, I think radical looking cars such as the Nissan Juke for instance are a bit too challenging for what is quite a conservative market. Loving whats coming out of the states though, the GT350 Mustang the Camaro Z-28 etc...Just be thankful Mr Pike that most Brits on here will never feel the exhilaration of an american small block V8 as they are too obsessed road tax, CO2 figures and MPG! Enjoy your Hyundai.

2 February 2016
Nicholas Pike wrote:
If the British are brain dead enough to keep being conned by the overpriced German cars, then so be it. Hyundai does not need the blinkered British market.
I think you're not wrong there...we are pretty bloody narrow-minded about 'premium' cars.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact
  • Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Volkswagen Touran R-Line offers a sporty twist on the ever-sensible MPV formula. We’ve sampled the punchy 2.0-litre diesel