Genesis is an interesting brand. Decades after Japanese automakers launched premium nameplates of their own, South Korea’s Hyundai decided to spin off one of its sedans into an entire luxury sub-brand in 2015. The resulting vehicles have been solid performers, representing excellent value for individuals in the market for something fancier. Genesis is building real luxury cars and working to differentiate those models from Hyundai Motor Groups’ mainstream products.
But it’s had to overcome plenty of obstacles. While Genesis’ product might be dunking on some of the other Asian luxury brands, achieving the same notoriety has been difficult for the fresh nameplate. The company also isn’t targeting Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus. Its sights are set on the Germans, with many vehicles already comparing favorably. But if Genesis is to become a serious rival, it needs to distance itself from the Hyundai and Kia models it traditionally shares a lot with — resulting in its very first standalone retail store in the United States.
Genesis shared the first official images of the GV70 on Thursday. The model slides in just below the GV80 and serves as the crossover alternative to the G70 sedan, incorporating the now-familiar quartet of LED headlights and crested grille.
The interior has been similarly inspired by its siblings, providing a look that’s synonymous with the Genesis brand but fairly unique within the industry. An ovoid steering wheel influences the rest of the cabin, resulting rounded edges replacing anything that designers might have previously penned at a 90-degree angle. The end result is an interesting and elegant space for drivers to plant themselves.
Genesis has been planning a mid-cycle update for the G70 sedan for a while and has been obliging us with previews showing off how good its designers are at their jobs for months. But Hyundai Motor Group recently previewed the model in South Korea to prove that the improvements made went beyond mere aesthetics.
While the split headlamps and updated grille bring the model more in line with other Genesis products, sacrificing a bit of visual menace for a more upscale appearance, technological changes ensure it’s no less capable from a performance standpoint. Next year, the Genesis G70 will receive a new sports+ driving mode that tightens engine and transmission programming to squeeze out every ounce of performance available, a new dynamic AWD system featuring a built-in drift mode, and an exhaust with active valves to make the V6 sound as sweet as possible on demand.
It’s often difficult to keep track of who is heading which automotive conglomerate. Topps never issued a trading card line devoted to industry professionals and there’s no show we’re aware of that catalogs the corporate history of car manufacturing focused entirely on management. Whenever someone is named in a car documentary, it’s only because they were incredibly important to the program or instrumental in seeing the company through a difficult period. That, or they happened to be one of those people’s damned children.
Nepotism is a problem in most industries but the automotive sector seems to be among the worst offenders. While some amount falls within the acceptable parameters rooted in the familial ties of yesteryear, when these businesses were much smaller entities, plenty of placements seem designed to keep wealthy offspring occupied through adulthood. It’s probably a sweet gig if you can get it but the phenomenon itself makes it difficult to determine which blood-related hires are placeholder people and who’s the genuine article.
For example, Hyundai Motor Group has just appointed Eui-Sun Chung (49) as its new chairman. He will be succeeding his father, Mong-Koo Chung (81), and comes from the automaker’s founding family. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Chung may actually be the ideal man for the job.
Lexus has the spindle grille, BMW has kidneys, and Genesis now has twin horizontal streaks as its signature styling cue. Front and back and even on the sides, illuminated parallel lines are the next-generation G80 sedan’s defining design flourish.
Revealed late Wednesday on Instagram (a coronavirus-free but still virulent venue), the upcoming midsize sedan looks to its larger siblings for inspiration.
Genesis Motors revealed a small city car in The Big Apple this week. However, the model’s debut wasn’t part of the daily goings-on at the New York International Auto Show. Instead, the company decided to unveil the Mint Concept at Hudson Yards, ahead of the trade show’s official press days — utilizing terms like “urban icon” and “reductive versatility” while somehow expecting to be taken seriously.
“As a brand, Genesis embraces progressive design values, and the Mint Concept reinforces this commitment from a previously undiscovered perspective,” Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis’ executive vice president, said at the vehicle’s introduction. “Mint belongs in the city, and we are proud to introduce our evolution of the ideal city car in New York.”
This is the kind of industrial-grade nonsense your author absolutely despises. However, I am elated Genesis did this, as it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to be exceptionally critical of a Korean brand. Outside of Hyundai’s Nexo, the country’s been on a hot streak lately. It’s wonderful to be able to prove that I’m still an unpleasant crankshaft without bias.
As though we needed more proof that Hyundai Motor Group’s luxury arm has the Germans in its crosshairs, Genesis has placed an extended-wheelbase version of the G90 on the Asian market. Called the “Limousine Prestige,” the South Korean marque’s new model is a clear attempt to move in on Maybach’s territory.
While most agree that Genesis has done a rather good job of delivering legitimate lavishness at bargain prices, the addition of a limo will undoubtedly force it be held to a higher standard. Thankfully, this seems like the right car for the job. Whereas the G70 is focused on delighting the driver, the brand’s larger sedans sacrifice sportiness to make more room for comfort — a fair trade, especially considering it used to be the go-to formula for all reputable luxury vehicles before low-profile tires became the norm.
Earlier this month, we reported on industry rumblings that suggested Genesis is keen on building a hotter G70. While the brand has issued no official announcement on upcoming products, such a model seems likely. At least, once the fledgling brand gets a high-volume crossover (or two) to market.
Erwin Raphael, Executive Director of Genesis Motor America, recently added fuel to those rumors while putting his own twist on things. Whereas product planner Mike O’Brien hinted at an upgraded G70, Raphael brought up something more purpose built for performance.
As bargain luxury brands go, Genesis Motors is aiming high — seemingly fixated on taking down its German competitors at a fraction of the price. However, while Genesis is capable of rumbling with its rivals’ base models with total confidence, it doesn’t have the hardware necessary to bash in the heads of most models wearing AMG or M badges.
That could soon change.
Everyone who spends the majority of their time obsessing about cars seems to low-key adore the Genesis G70. It’s handsome, comfortable, and apparently handles like a sports sedan should. The dealership will even sell it to you with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive if you can live without the 365-horsepower twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. It also undercuts the starting price of its self-selected rival, the BMW 3 Series, by a full ten grand — softening the blow of any shortcomings it may possess.
However, there is one aspect that puts it a step behind its more-expensive competition. The G70 still uses analog instrumentation in conjunction with its digital interfaces. While this is a non-issue for many enthusiasts, as most electronic gauges simply mimic traditional clusters (and sometimes rather poorly), the general public expects premium autos to have the most-flashy tech available.
Genesis is remedying the situation in South Korea as read this. But, rather than than simply bringing the G70’s display up to the bar, it has decided to do a front flip over the status quo by offering what it claims is the world’s first 12.3-inch 3D instrument cluster.
Considering how the popularity of crossover vehicles resulted in the industry-wide genocide of passenger cars, it is both strange and exciting to discuss a new sedan. While we haven’t reached the point where one could describe the situation as a blending of Children of Men and Disney’s Cars franchise, new models with a low center of gravity are becoming increasingly difficult to come by.
That’s why we’re glad Hyundai’s luxury Genesis division built the G70 and saw fit to allow the ability to option it with a manual transmission. You read that correctly; there is an automaker that builds a competitively priced luxury sedan that can be had with a manual transmission. However, buyers need to actually purchase these vehicles for the brand to rationalize that decision in the years to come.
Ever since Hyundai launched Genesis as a separate luxury brand, there’s been plenty of confusion as to how to distribute its vehicles. The company initially said Genesis would have an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within three years. Then it said existing Hyundai retailers could continue to sell luxury models if they met a certain criteria, but noted many would become ineligible as standalone stores became the norm.
Now Genesis is saying all Hyundai dealers are in the running, but they’ll need to have separate facilities for the luxury brand if they want to sell them. While the change isn’t drastic, it’s the third time the brand’s parent company has revised its dealer strategy, leaving us confused as to what the automaker’s plan was all along.
Hyundai Motor America and its U.S. Genesis division sent messages to Hyundai dealers this week, alerting them to the formation of an independent Genesis dealer network. Hyundai’s recently created luxury marque wants space between it and its value-focused sister division, and that means the need for standalone stores.
Shared showrooms simply won’t cut it anymore.
Right now, Genesis customers in the United States can purchase models at roughly 350 Hyundai dealers, but not for long. The plan calls for just 100 standalone stores as a starting point. If you’re a Hyundai dealer with dreams of selling a higher class of vehicles, this is your opportunity — but your chances of being selected might not be as high as those dealers already selling the brand.
Hyundai’s Genesis Motors offshoot intends to finalize its transition into an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within the next three years.
The process of building an undetermined number of distinct Genesis outlets has not yet begun, but it’s clear the brand is well aware of the limitations with which it’s currently operating.
“The reality is, many, many luxury customers tell us they love our products, they’re amazing, but I’m not going into a Hyundai store to buy it,” U.S. Genesis boss Erwin Raphael tells Automotive News.
The 2018 Kia Stinger and 2018 Genesis G70 are platform partners, two new sporty and luxurious four-doors from the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group.
The timing of their release is synchronized. They utilize the same engine portfolio. They’ll compete in a similar price bracket. But there are differences. For starters, the styling is markedly different, the kind of difference one expects to find when one car, the Kia, is a hatchback and the other is a sedan. The Kia Stinger works harder to get noticed; the Genesis G70 is more subdued.
But while Hyundai’s Genesis spinoff will need to further differentiate the G70 from a marketing standpoint in order to provide a true luxury brand glow, it’s already been made clear by Albert Biermann, the former BMW chassis guru who’s now head of vehicle testing for Hyundai and Kia, that the cars are very similar. In terms of driving experience, “It’s not so easy maybe as with the styling, but I think we can find good tuning and calibration that set them a little bit apart,” Biermann said earlier this year.
A little bit.
Yet in a conversation with Manfred Fitzgerald, the senior vice president at the Genesis brand, Wards Auto received a strikingly different answer. Asked how the Genesis G70 differs from the Kia Stinger, Fitzgerald says, “You tell me. I don’t look at the Stinger. We’re focusing on something totally different.”
Your teenager calls this #shade.
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