Genesis rising - but first, a facelift

An update of the Hyundai Genesis large luxury sedan brings a change of identity – and a new engine.


HAVING just settled into the new name in the niche large luxury car sector, fans of Hyundai’s super luxury car are now going to have to deal with it becoming something else.

In revealing at the Detroit motor show its full plan to mount a six-pronged model range under its new Genesis luxury brand, Hyundai’s elite division has also shown off a facelift for the Genesis car that has been on sale here for the past year.

It has also revealed that the large $99,990 sedan that Kiwis currently know as a Hyundai Genesis will be badged Genesis G80 in its updated form.

There’s more. While the model continues to look much the same, it has a change of heart, with the current 3.8-litre V6 seemingly being dropped for a twin-turbo six-cylinder.

The switch from a name to an alphanumeric identity is ironic, because in the mainstream Hyundai world most of the cars that previously ran those kinds of badges have reverted to names: Thus i45 is now the Sonata and iX35 has gone back to being the Sonata.

Hyundai New Zealand has yet to divulge when the updated car will come here – though overseas’ reports say it is set to go into production soon – and is not yet keen to discuss what plans, if any, it has to foot other Genesis vehicles in this market.

In the past, it has identified that the current Genesis coupe, a high-performance offer that has been in left-hand-drive production for several years, will join the Genesis sedan once the two-door is also engineered for right-hand-drive.

The ultimate Genesis gameplan, of course, reaches much further. South Korea’s largest carmaker wants to sell six vehicles as Genesis models.

This expansion strategy starts with the flagship G90 unveiled yesterday at the 2016 Detroit motor show and continues with the G80, whose new-generation twin-turbo V6 produces more power and is more efficient than the current naturally-aspirated choice. The update maintains the eight-speed automatic that features in the current Genesis.

The G80 will be followed next year by a compact sedan, the G70. A coupe, taking on a more luxury-focused role than the performance model it replaces, is also in the works.

The final two additions are a compact soft roader based on the same underpinnings as the compact car and a full-size, seven-seat SUV that is expected to utlilise the G90's all-new platform.

The latter two are perceived to be more acceptable to the New Zealand distributor than the sedans, given that big soft-roaders are far more in vogue in this market than traditional luxury sedans.

In any event, the G90 will also likely only be engineered for left-hand-drive markets.

Hyundai has promised that all Genesis-branded models will maintain an element of exclusivity above and beyond mainstream Hyundai models.

Apart from sporting dedicated platforms and powertrains, the Genesis models will impart more engaging driving dynamics, high level materials, the latest in connectivity and safety features and benchmark customer experiences.

Genesis also warrants its own design and engineering division, with former Lamborghini executive Manfred Fitzgerald as the overall boss and ex-Bentley and Lamborghini designer Luc Donkerwolke heading up the studio. As previously reported, Albert Biermann – the renowned former head of BMW's M Division – is in charge of engineering.

Biermann told media at Detroit that the focus of his engineering team is to create a "distinct driving personality" for each of the Genesis models "in tune with its role in the line-up and its design.

"The G90 brings a supremely refined and yet confident personality. It's driving performance matches this personality. With the G80 executive sedan, the emphasis shifts slightly to quicken the reflexes of the vehicle to heighten the sense of the driver and the road. And the upcoming G70 sports sedan will go one step further to provide greater sense of precision and feedback to the driver.

"You will see similar driving traits and individual personalities in our Genesis crossovers. This is the mission of our Genesis engineering team; the define and create the soul and dynamic personality of the world's next great luxury brand."

He suggested the G70 is also likely to be the first Genesis model to adopt a special performance edition that will be developed in partnership with Hyundai’s high-performance N division sub-brand.

In answering conjecture that such a car could be South Korea’s first equivalent of the vaunted M3, Biermann responded by saying it would be “a real racetrack-going high performance car."