Detroit, Michigan – The new Genesis G90 (we don’t need to call it a Hyundai anymore), is as important as a flagship model in a tough market segment as it is to the launch of the new Genesis brand.

Since the first generation Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan was introduced in 2008, it begged the question why Hyundai did not follow the path to new luxury brands led by Toyota (Lexus), Honda (Acura) and Nissan (Infiniti), but instead sort of half-branded it a Hyundai. Now that Hyundai Motor Company is finally giving Genesis its wings to fly on its own as a brand (at least as far as badging is concerned), we have been presented with the first model under this new halo marque: the Genesis G90.

The G90 replaces the Hyundai Equus flagship sedan – a fine machine that never made much of a sales ripple – and takes its place above the G80 (known last year as the Hyundai Genesis sedan).

Introduced by Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the automotive style guru spoke enthusiastically about the G90’s ‘Athletic Elegance’, and likened the design to an archer with his focus of strength and spirit on the tip of an arrow. While overreaching in that sentiment, the G90 is a large and imposing sedan, cleanly styled and presenting a profile suitable for a flagship cruiser. That said, while drawing many key design cues from the smaller G80 sedan, the G90 is appears weighty and tall, avoiding any flamboyant flourish or any real character.

This is a practical design however, which engenders a very spacious interior, particularly in the back seat that’s comfortable and lavishly equipped, adjustable in 14 different ways on the passenger side. Materials throughout are luxurious, with Nappa leather and genuine wood and metal accents designed to create an atmosphere suitable for this high-end class of cars. Ambient lighting can be tailored seven different ways and the 17-speaker Lexicon sound system strives to mimic the acoustics of the original recording space for the performance being enjoyed.

The G90 is fitted with a choice of two engines. The first is an all-new 3.3L direct-injected, twin-turbo V6 that puts out 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from 1,300–4,500 rpm.

The optional engine is the latest variation of the familiar Hyundai Tau 5.0L V8 that dispenses 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, suggesting that the new V6 may feel almost as lively under most driving conditions.

Both engines send power to the wheels through a second generation eight-speed automatic transmission designed to minimize drivetrain losses and reduce weight compared to the previous unit. The US Market will receive a standard RWD format G90, with H-Trac AWD being optional. Canadian G90s will be AWD-only like the smaller G80.

Genesis reports that the G90’s engineers worked extensively to balance ride and handling, while maintaining steering feel, as well as starting with a platform they claim is stiffer in rigidity than the Mercedes-Benz S550.

The G90 is loaded with all the contemporary active and passive safety features consumers expect at this level including Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Asist, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Dynamic Bending Light headlights with High Beam Assist and 360-degree Multi-view monitor, plus Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start capability.

If our experiences with the current Genesis G80 and previous Equus are anything to go by, the G90 should deliver on its promise of luxury and comfort. However, to compete with the established prestige brands from Europe, Japan and the US, Genesis knows it must deliver more than just a stellar product. It needs to provide a superlative sales and after-purchase experience for buyers and Genesis has big plans for this as well.

The proposed sales engagement point in introducing the car to prospective buyers will happen on the client’s time and at their desired location rather than relying on a traditional dealership model. Additionally, full concierge services will be available to buyers as well as complimentary vehicle pick-up and drop-off for servicing.

Hyundai’s new breakaway Genesis luxury brand has a tough uphill battle ahead to position itself among the best of its competitors. The G90 appears to offer great promise that the Korean company is fully dedicated to success in this competitive category.

Canadian pricing for the Genesis G90 has yet to be announced.

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