Lexus, Infiniti, DS, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac – all have tried over the past couple of decades to steal a slice of the lucrative ‘premium’ new car market from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Some have failed, others have failed miserably and some are clinging on. Volvo might be the only one to offer a true alternative, thanks to a generous helping of design appeal and an early start on electrification.
So what hope does Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury offshoot, have? First of all, it has the force of Hyundai and Kia behind it, whose models have evolved rapidly from bargain-basement offerings to cars that are genuine contenders to win group tests. Genesis therefore benefits from a depth of engineering might, and from strong in-house EV and hybrid powertrain technology.
The new wave of Genesis models arriving in Europe now is not Hyundai’s first stab at making standout luxury cars, of course. Roughly 5 Series-sized saloons badged ‘Hyundai Genesis’ have been sold since 2008 in the US and South Korea, where buyers tend to be more accepting of new luxury brands. The second generation gradually lost the Hyundai branding before becoming the Genesis G80; and the G80 saloon we’re now getting in Europe is actually the third-generation version of the brand’s saloon. Although it launched the smaller G70 and larger G90 saloons – and even a Genesis Coupé – along the way, the brand has so far struggled to gain traction in the US because it had no SUVs.