Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

Tue, 09/06/2022 - 11:45am

Sedans—front-engine cars with four doors, a trunk and no trace of SUV-ness—have fallen out of favor with most car buyers. Car makers, however, still regard sedans as statement vehicles, platforms to show off their engineering, design and digital prowess. Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi, et al. launch megabuck sedans as the flagships of their fleets. Hyundai does this too, although under the Genesis banner.

Genesis is to Hyundai as Lexus is to Toyota. Much of what we wrote about the first G90 applies to this one too, although the car has been dramatically re-done for 2023 and, at $100,300, it costs about one Hyundai Kona more. The only option on this car is the special finish, Uyuni White, for an extra $575. Genesis does not offer a la carte ordering; the buyer gets a multi-course meal at a fixed price.

And what a meal it is. A flagship is the admiral’s ride, the biggest boat in the fleet. A long-wheelbase G90 now measures 17 feet 11 inches from stem to stern. That’s almost seven inches more than an S-Class Mercedes-Benz. It’s also wide enough to nearly fill my driveway. The front seats would significantly upgrade my home, and the back seats are larger, plusher, recline farther and offer more adjustments and features than the front seats in most other cars, including a digital screen in the center console. With these pillow-soft headrests, the Mood Curator (ambient lighting, scents and sounds) and the super-smooth ride, serious napping is not out of the question.

At idle or at speed, the G90 seems quieter than most electric cars even though the new twin-turbo 3.5T V-6 (which replaces last year’s 5.0-liter V-8) is not only driven by internal combustion, it also has a supercharger to help it exert 409 horsepower. Superchargers whine, which adds to the excitement in a performance car but would be a sad annoyance in a flagship, so this supercharger is electric and soundless. The G90 also has active electronic noise canceling tailored to each individual seat. Finally, the 8-speed automatic transmission switches gears as though it were wearing cashmere mittens.

Different driving modes alter the ride height, steering, suspension response and even the seat fitment. One of the three braking modes is “Chauffeur,” which won’t ruffle passengers with high-g stops. I found myself dialing up Sport mode because Comfort was too, well, comfortable—one might even say pillowy, like land yachts of yore. Sport mode is hardly sporting by, say, German standards, but it helps the captain feel somewhat more connected to what’s going on. In truth, the G90 is much better buttoned-down than one might suspect; it’s just that the edges of the performance envelope are so well sanded off.

A camera scans the road ahead to let the car prepare for what’s coming. In a steep descent, the suspension raises the nose to smooth the transition back to level ground; and on rough surfaces the entire car raises itself by as much as 25 millimeters, one inch, for extra stability and suspension travel, and thus comfort.

Once passengers have exclaimed over the seating and the personal space, the magnificent Bang & Olufsen sound system with 23 speakers, the mood enhancers and the heavenly quiet, the doors grab everyone’s attention. From inside, they open and close electrically at the push of a button; the driver’s door can be programmed to close itself as soon as the driver’s foot touches the brake. When the doors are locked or the car is underway, the outside door handles retract into the body. And everyone likes to watch the G90 park itself at the push of a button on the key fob.

The G90 also takes digital personalization to new levels. Merely the driver’s fingerprint can start the engine, adjust everything to that person’s stored preferences and even authorize credit-card payments. Alternatively, the G90 smartphone app, in concert with the digital key, can start the car as soon as the driver touches the door handle. (It’ll also open the trunk.) Wireless, over-the-air updates are available—for the digital key and the G90’s major electronic systems: navigation, instruments, head-up display, brakes, steering wheel, suspension, airbags and driver safety systems—without having to visit the dealer.

A G90 3.5T AWD—without our top-of-the-line model’s electric supercharger and a few features such as the massaging back seats—costs about ten grand less than this car. Both undercut their peers from Europe by bushels of dollars. Thanks to this value proposition, 5-year warranties, convenient service plans and consistently high J.D. Power quality surveys, Genesis is beginning to make serious inroads into heights once controlled by European luxury brands.