2017 Genesis G90 3.3T Review and Road Test

2017 Genesis G90 3.3T

Hyundai sets its sights (again) on becoming a sought-after luxury brand

Words by: Adam Allen


Genesis, eh? Haven’t we heard that name before?

You have, because Hyundai used to offer two cars called Genesis- one was a sports coupe, the other a luxury sedan. It was during this era they decided to launch a whole new luxury brand they dubbed Equus. Realizing that they were fostering more confusion than sales, they decided to do some streamlining. The Equus brand was quietly euthanized and the Genesis coupe and sedan were put to pasture but not before donating their names to Hyundai’s second take on a luxury brand, now called…Genesis. If you’re a bit lost by now, fear not- only Hyundai’s marketing team can follow the timeline/consolidation of all these cars, something we’d like to see them recite after a long night of partying. We asked for the keys to the flagship, known as the G90, so we could see what’s what. Not only did we procure a set for the version powered by a new twin-turbo V6, someone wearing a sharply tailored suit came and delivered them to us in person. That’s right- Genesis drivers will never have to set foot into a dealership, Hyundai or otherwise, during their entire ownership experience.

Interesting. Is the lengthy list of options and packages they offer as confusing as what you explained earlier?

Thankfully not. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. When you order a G90, there is very little to choose from. Not because the cars have sparse choices for options, but because they come exhaustively equipped with everything. Does that include adaptive cruise control, top notch build quality and materials as well as a heaping amount of refinement? Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, you could order your G90 while waiting in line at the grocery checkout. All you have to do is spec what color you want for the interior as well as the exterior. Then, decide whether you want V6 or V8 power. That’s it- you’re done. Try doing that with an S-Class.

Great! That is easy. Better make mine a V8, please.

Under 99.999% of all circumstances, we’d wholly agree with a bent eight under hood of any luxo-barge. A V8 provides a waftability that lesser cylindered engines simply cannot match, and come with a mellifluous soundtrack as a lovely offshoot of all that effortless power. We haven’t driven a V8-powered G90 yet but we are familiar with Hyundai’s ‘Tau’ eight cylinder effort, and it’s a good one- smooth and powerful. And yet, after driving the twice turbocharged 3.3 litre six, we cannot say we would emphatically choose the eight. We would be perfectly fine with the six providing motivational duties, and less weight up front makes for better balance and sharper turn-in. Fire it up and it settles into a nearly undetectable idle. Put your foot down hard and the V6 responds by shoving the G90 forward smartly. The turbo six may not offer the same output numbers as the V8, but in the real world it’s barely slower and does manage to get slightly better fuel economy. The premium for the bigger engine works out to $1,500 per cylinder which is much less when you compare the Genesis to its competitors and what they charge as you increase cylinder count and horsepower.

Looking inside, you can tell Hyundai was serious about the whole luxury thing.

And how! You will never confuse the interior for anything else from its plebeian cousins and is a huge leap forward even over the Equus, which itself was no Hyundai Pony inside. As we said, every single feature you could want from a modern executive saloon is part of the deal, so we’ll just touch on some of the features that really stood out to us starting with the seats. They’re trimmed in buttery Napa leather and boast impeccable stitching. Also, they were designed by a German consortium of back pain specialists so your vertebrae will swoon with pleasure even on long trips. The switchgear is simultaneously well laid out, intuitive to use and features cool hardware like knurled switches on the steering wheel that would feel at home in any luxury car extant. Building on the success of Hyundai’s reputation offering well executed touchscreen infotainment systems, the Genesis offers a 12.3” unit with HD graphics that’s easily manipulated by a BMW iDrive-like knob in the centre console. The best part about the unit? It controls the incredible 17 speaker Lexicon sound system, the same one Rolls Royce used to specify for their 1%-er chariots. In a change of pace, passengers may abandon their fights over who will sit shotgun in favor of the rear seat accommodations. Offering up huge amounts of legroom, there’s also a console that folds down that will allow them to tailor their own climate zone as well as other hedonisitic adjustments.

That’s all well and good, but it won’t mean much if the Genesis doesn’t drive as good as it looks.

If you’re discerning criteria of a large luxury sedan demands a competitive lap time at the Nürburgring, please move along. While some luxo-barges can sashay their way around a circuit pretty good it’s not really the point. Instead of trying to be all things to all drivers, Hyundai wisely decided to focus on comfort. There is a Sport mode which will sharpen the throttle response somewhat and even a set of paddle shifters, but using either of those felt wrong in a car that encourages relaxation over speed. The Genesis shuffles through its eight gear ratios without issue and responds to changes in direction crisply, its steering even telegraphing some feedback as to what’s happening at the front wheels. The best part of the driving experience has to be the tremendous plushness afforded by the long wheel base and suspension tuning. This car positively glides over imperfections and even our best efforts to upset the chassis were left unfulfilled. Lastly, the G90 is quiet; like, library levels of quiet. We don’t have one of those fancy decibel meters at our disposal, but to our ears the Genesis ranks as among the quietest luxury cars we have ever tested.

What might go wrong?

The most obvious hurdle Hyundai faces with this car is shoppers used to shopping this segment turning up their noses and saying “Yeah, but it’s a Hyundai.” Despite the efforts made to keep them away from a Hyundai dealership and the fully-loaded price being many thousands less than its competitors even begin at (for reference, a Mercedes Benz S-Class is $16,000 more expensive before any options have been added) it’s hard to neutralize the skepticism of a brand snob. That isn’t the G90’s fault, however. Where the car itself puts a foot wrong starts with the styling- it has unmistakable presence but looks a bit bland. It isn’t shy about its thirst for gasoline, and if you look closely you can see faint whiffs of cheapness in some of the trim pieces inside. It should be noted that none of these foibles glare with enough negativity to be deal breakers.

Should I buy a Genesis G90?

If you like luxury cars that don’t have six figure price tags, contact your local Genesis concierge post haste. Really, the Genesis is such a good effort that even those coming from a Mercedes or Audi or any of the already established players in the segment couldn’t possibly look you in the eye and tell you they aren’t impressed. There is some ground to be made in chasing those rivals, but the progress needed to do that is more incremental than monumental.


2017 Genesis G90 3.3T — Specifications

  • Price as tested: $84,000
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  3.3 litre twin-turbocharged V6 DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  365 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 376 @ 1,300 rpm
  • Curb weight: 2,170 kg (4,784 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 15.1L/100km (15.6 mpg)