by Gerhard Horn
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been at the forefront of the large luxury sedan segment since it was first introduced in 1972. It gave the world several firsts, including working ABS, stability control, adaptive cruise control, night vision, and a system that scans the road ahead to prime the suspension.
Merc's new S-Class hardly brings anything new to the table unless you have a fetish for digital displays. It's still a good car, but hardly the trendsetter it used to be.
This leaves the door wide open for the Genesis G90, which takes a more old-school approach to luxury. Over the years, German manufacturers have moved away from the traditional definition of luxury, which has nothing to do with how many screens you can fit the interior. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class became an icon by introducing technology that took the stress out of driving, and that's what Genesis is aiming for with the new G90.
At the front, the G90 features the well-known Genesis face. Instead of two slim stacked headlights, the G90 has individual LED lamps that create an even smaller appearance. The headlamps incorporate the daytime running lights, turn signals, low beams, and high beams. These headlights also stretch around the side of the car, where they're used as indicators.
The side profile is the most interesting. In addition to the stretched headlights, there are two major design lines. The Parabolic line extends from the hood to the rear, dropping slightly along the way. The Athletic Power Lines run neatly through the flush door handles to the taillamps, creating a muscular profile.
One also can't accuse Genesis of choosing boring alloy options. There's a lot going on, but we're sure Genesis will offer other options for the more traditional customer.
The rear has a two-line design combination lights running from one side to the other. Between these dual lights, the Genesis lettering is displayed proudly.
The Genesis has two screens in the front, neither dominating the overall design. One is the digital instrument cluster, the other the obligatory touchscreen interface. Genesis focused on minimalism and quality instead of bolting everything they could find at the local Walmart's gadget section to the dash.
Look closer, and you'll notice the vents neatly incorporated into the line separating the infotainment and climate control. The most used buttons are still analog and made from glass and aluminum. Genesis is also giving customers a selection of 12 interior color options. We like that Genesis is leaning into its South Korean heritage instead of shying away from it. The Hallasan Green interior color option is named after a shield volcano on Jeju Island. The metal inlay garnish is also inspired by a traditional Korean crafting technique.
Instead of mimicking the Germans, South Korea finally decided to tackle the establishment with its take on interior design, which looks exquisite. It seems a long-wheelbase model will also be available but has not been confirmed for the US. This allows the right rear passenger to stretch out a little more by moving the front seat forward.
The G90 is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter engine, though it has not stated whether its a V6 or inline-six.
Since Genesis has experience with V6 engines, that's the most obvious candidate. The claimed power output is 380 horsepower, but no torque figure is available yet. It's a pity, because low-down torque is an absolute must. We're willing to give Genesis the benefit of the doubt, given the previous turbocharged G90's excellent engine.
Power will be sent to the rear wheels as standard, but an all-wheel-drive system will be available. The power will be sent to the driven wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. This transmission's only job is to fade into the background and provide uninterrupted power. Once again, Genesis has managed this trick before, and we have no doubt it can do so again.
The most expensive G90 currently on sale still retails for under $80,000. Genesis will likely want to keep it in that price bracket to undercut the major players in the segment.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class starts at around $110,000, while the aging BMW 7 Series is more affordable at approximately $90,000. Its main rival will likely be the Lexus LS, which is also relatively good value. The base price of a turbocharged V6 LS also undercuts the G90, and the Lexus brand has more prestige.
The German rivals traditionally offered more customization options, but the new G90 is right up there with them. Like Lexus, Genesis isn't shy to include almost every luxury feature as standard. At the same time, the Germans still expect you to fork over additional cash for things that really should be standard on luxury barges.
If Genesis can convince traditional luxury sedan buyers to look past the badge, the G90 will be a huge win for the South Korean brand.
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