Friday, November 22, 2019

2020 Genesis G90 First Drive Review: First Class Korean

We got to drive the 2020 Genesis G90 for the first time before anybody else on the continent earlier this week. And the Korean manufacturer chose the vineyard-rich Niagara region to launch this full-size luxury sedan. Here’s our take on it.

Driving a full-size luxury sedan is an experience in itself for the driver. But it also leaves a long-lasting impression in the eyes of bystanders who see this long limo-like vehicle that looks classy and most probably has someone important in it. Lest we forget, being chauffeured is also part of the experience, nestled in the comfortable rear seating. And the 2020 Genesis G90 aims to provide that exact experience, but with a Korean twist.


A bit of insight about Genesis

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

Before we dig deep into this palace on wheels, there are a few key points to mention about Genesis. If you’re familiar with the name, you know that it belongs to Hyundai. But it has some particularities that no other manufacturer has; things like Genesis at home, where you can buy a Genesis from your phone or computer from A to Z.

Yes, Genesis operates a network of “boutiques” from shopping malls and airports to entice the customer into looking at and feeling the models in real-time. But in terms of experience, they are far from the typical dealership located in the middle of nowhere with the balloons, sleazy salesmen and terrible coffee.

Also, there’s the Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance for five years or 100,000 km. Through the Genesis Concierge, the manufacturer will scoop your car at your home or workplace, leave a loaner behind, and bring it back fresh-smelling with the oil change done.

With the G90 and other models, Genesis wishes to pierce through the thick armour of European cars dominating the segment, think Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-series, Audi A8.

Yup, those are pretty big guns.


The 2020 Genesis G90’s Mechanical Bits

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

The G90’s offering isn’t a complicated trim headache; it’s offered in one, fully-loaded variant. The 2020 vintage has been almost completely overhauled from the outgoing model. It sits on the same platform, but sustained major iterations. Inside, the centre stack took the bulk of the changes, with new surfaces and relocated commands. Outside, everything except the doors and roof was redesigned. And let’s not forget those unique wheels.

At the heart of the G90 lies the 5.0-litre V8 engine that releases 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. There is, however, the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 that is technically still available on special order. This one has 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque.

Next up, the 8-Speed automatic transmission and full-time AWD duo is mandated to send those specs to the wheels. What’s pretty neat about this AWD system is that in normal driving conditions, 60% of the torque is sent in the rear and 40% in the front. In Sport mode in a high-speed cornering situation, 90% of the pound-feet output can be sent to the rear, leaving the remaining 10% to the front. It’s an impressive feat for a big luxury sedan.

Several modes, like an Eco and Sport, can be selected. But the Custom mode takes it up a notch, with parameters that can be individually adjusted in a pick & choose fashion.

Surprisingly, Genesis opted for a multi-link type suspension with good ‘ol springs and shocks, a bit unusual for a luxury highway cruiser, but we’ll get to that later.


On the road

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

Stepping into the 2020 Genesis G90 doesn’t require contortion, as you can imagine. The seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in, and they can even propose the best position settings via the Smart Posture Care feature. Enter weight, height and other personal dimensions and let it do the work.

In the dashboard, some textures and commands gave themselves up; we spotted resemblances in Kia and Hyundai vehicles. However, the genuine wood trim is open-pore and has just enough lacquer to protect it without removing the “feel”. Control the infotainment system using the knob, steering wheel or on the touchscreen, which is uselessly tactile (it would take a pretty long arm to get there).

A lever sitting just at the right angle controls the transmission. A detail that I particularly appreciate because rotating knobs are just plain boring.

Switch it in “D”, squeeze in the accelerator pedal and the grunt of the 5.0-litre V8 progressively escalates, like a classical music concert. The transmission helps slingshot the 4960-pound Korean first-class cabin ahead with ease. Power and seamlessness are predominant here, no hiccups or wait, the G90 just goes.

Like an arrow in the wind and with plenty of horses on command under the pedal, the G90 is a proper highway cruiser. However, throw it in a curve and the non-pneumatic suspension with an internal valve system goes to work. Much to my surprise, the G90 feels a lot smaller than it is; it is nimble and agile. Along with precise steering with good feedback, this full-size luxury sedan was actually fun to drive.

From the backseat, which can easily double as a workspace, comfort was varying according to road conditions, there were rocky moments and peaceful ones, but the adjustability of the reclining seats and various controls contributed to an executive experience.


Conclusion

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

The full-size luxury sedan is not only a class of its own; it caters to a specific class of people which are as demanding as demanding can be. Size doesn’t matter, because concerns about parking are inexistent (the car will most likely be left at the valet, or in the hands of the driver). Fuel economy isn’t usually a concern either.

The G90 has what it takes to charm that specific class of individuals. It might not have the European “soul” than they are accustomed to. But at 89,750$, you get a very complete package, with plenty of driver-assistive tech that we haven’t mentioned here. Additionally, maintenance is taken care of for 5 years or 100,000 kilometres.

On the other hand, if it fails to the task of convincing S-Class and 7-Series buyers, the G90 could tap into the limousine business – because it has the right luxury amenities, and it comes with a maintenance plan that makes a lot of business sense.


2020 Genesis G90 Photo Gallery

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

2020 Genesis G90 | Photo: Louis-Philippe Dube

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Louis-Philippe Dubé
Louis-Philippe Dubé
Louis-Philippe Dubé has been contributing at MotorIllustrated.com for over a year, and for the NetMedia360 network for nearly three years now. His passion for everything automotive comes from a career as a mechanic, but also from the family vehicle collection that includes a 996 Porsche Turbo and a 2004 Ford GT. We've been bugging him to drive the GT, but he hasn't responded. Send L-P an email

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