First drive: 2017 Genesis G90 in the UAE
After Hyundai officially announced last year that they will make Genesis a separate luxury brand, the G90 takes its place as the Korean manufacturer’s flagship sedan. Assigned with the tough task of taking on the established premium German carmakers, the G90 has to deliver on the necessary components of a luxury car, which for the most part it does.
Looking at the exterior, the design is clean and subtle, though not particularly head-turning. From the side view, it resonates a hint of the previous-gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while the front-end gives a bit of the Audi vibe thanks to its big upright grille. The rear looks nice with the LED tailights and chrome dual exhaust tips integrated into the rear bumper. Only the V8 gets the full-LED headlights. Currently only a single 19-inch alloy wheel design is available on all models.
Inside, the cabin is wrapped in high-quality leather and genuine wooden accents. The layout of the controls in the centre-console certainly keeps things simple and easy to use, with big buttons marked clearly, requiring no learning curve. Unlike some of its competitors, there are no fancy touch pads or a hundred menus to browse through. It is also said to have increased rear-seat space compared to the outgoing Hyundai Centennial, since the wheelbase has been lengthened.
The 2017 G90 will be offered with three engine options in the Gulf. The base engine is the 3.8-litre V6 which was found in the Centennial, while the other two new additions are the turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 motor and the 5.0-litre V8. They all come with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
For our drive, we hopped on the V8 model. Hyundai claims the 407 hp V8 can reach from 0-100 kph in under 6 seconds. Our fuel economy numbers averaged 14.0 litre/100 km which included mostly highway driving.
The car had a good pedal feel, with the accelerator responsive to inputs, albeit requiring a little extra squeeze if you want to get it moving, since the car is clearly designed for smooth acceleration, rather than neck-jerking take-offs. We managed to hear a muffled growl of the V8 from inside the quiet cabin during hard acceleration.
On the highway, the cabin remains relatively quiet till speeds of 120 kph, with wind noise creeping in slightly when you are at 140 kph, but it’s nothing to complain about.
The steering wheel has no feel whatsoever, but it has a decent weight to it. The ride is very smooth, thanks to the active air suspension. We cannot comment on the handling, since our test-drive was just a straight-line drive on the highway from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and back, coupled with some city driving.
Genesis is just looking to build the brand in the GCC for now, sharing dealer floor-space with regular Hyundais with no immediate plans to open separate new showrooms. While it certainly will offer a very competitive price against its rivals, that alone won’t be enough to convince buyers, as it does not have the inventive features nor the brand image to match the established European players. What the G90 offers is a value-for-money alternative to a midsize BMW or Mercedes-Benz, or something to go up against second-tier premium brands such as Lexus and Jaguar. There is a market for subtle limos in the Far East and in the West, but the Middle East is a totally different place.
Photos by Hyundai ME.
For UAE and GCC updates, visit the Genesis buyer guide.