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Hyundai Launches 2017 Luxury Division: Genesis

By Frank A. Aukofer, November 5th, 2016

Benny, One of the greatest comedians of all time, the late Jack Benny, would have loved the 2017 Genesis G90 sedan, the flagship of a new automobile brand.

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Genesis G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power, and five-star comfort
Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Genesis G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power, and five-star comfort

An essential component of Benny's shtick was that of a wealthy penny-pinching tightwad. In perhaps his most famous bit, a robber attempts to hold him up, saying "Your money or your life." Benny doesn't say a word. He gets a quizzical look on his face and simply stands there, thinking it over. It is one of the great comic moments in history.

The Genesis G90 embodies his persona. It radiates wealth and quality, at a price that would entice Benny or even Ebenezer Scrooge. Yet it needs to win acceptance from luxury buyers. The 2017 Genesis G90 is the new designer brand from Hyundai of South Korea.

In the last decade, Hyundai has overcome consumer doubts by delivering popularly priced cars of unexpected high quality that challenge industry leaders like Toyota and Honda. It even ventured into near-luxury and luxury territory with models like the Genesis sedan and coupe, and the flagship Equus.

Now the company has elevated the Genesis nameplate to an all-new luxury brand that eventually will offer at least a half-dozen new models. It is similar to what Toyota did with Lexus, Nissan with Infiniti, and Honda with Acura.

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Genesis G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power, and five-star comfort

strong>Genesis starts with two models: the G80, a revamped version of the existing Hyundai Genesis sedan. It starts at $41,400.

Most important is the Genesis G90, which resembles the previous Equus but is all-new with no shared parts. It competes with top luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Cadillac CT6, BMW 7 Series, Lincoln Continental, Lexus LS, and Audi A8. The G90 starts at $68,100.

Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, is a realist who understands that it will take time to pry luxury buyers away from the likes of the Mercedes three-pointed star and the BMW blue-and-white propeller.

The luxury car phenomenon is that any newcomer must develop a reputation for great performance and quality to win customers who often are clueless about the product but entranced by the cachet.

Zuchowski says he figures it could take five years of sustained effort to insinuate the new Genesis brand into the consciousness of those buyers. One way will be to appeal to the bargain hunter in all of us (even rich people sometimes shop at Wal-Mart).

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Genesis G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power, and five-star comfort

Another way is to deliver a superior product. The G90 is a superb road machine with sharp handling, abundant power, and five-star comfort.

It comes come fully equipped, with no need to pore over lists of expensive options. Standard enhancements include genuine ash and walnut wood trim, soft Nappa leather, and enough sound insulation to rival an anechoic chamber. There are two versions, each available with standard rear-wheel drive or full-time all-wheel drive.

A hallmark of the new brand is the way it will treat customers. Need service? It's included at no extra charge. Hate going to the dealership? An associate will drive a loaner car to your home, pick up your new G90, and return it when it's been serviced, and washed.

We drove the G90 3.3T Premium with all-wheel drive at the world introduction in Canada's British Columbia province. It is powered by a 3.3-liter V-6 engine with twin turbochargers that delivers 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. Power reaches the pavement through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Also available to buyers will be the Genesis 5.0L with a 420-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 383 lb.-ft. of torque.

As with other vehicles from Hyundai, the Genesis comes with a full warranty for five years or 60,000 miles, as well as a powertrain warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Sure, there's no rear-seat entertainment system. And so far it doesn't drive or park itself. But the new G90 is classy, comfortable, and composed enough to satisfy extravagant showoffs as well as skinflints.

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