If you don't pay attention to the auto market regularly, you might have already forgotten that Genesis is its own brand, spun off by Hyundai as a luxury marque back in 2015. It's not that Genesis hasn't introduced some nice cars and luxury concepts over the 2+ years it's been doing its own thing, it's just that the fledgling brand hasn't quite had that defining halo. The all-new Essentia Concept could be the missing piece of the Genesis puzzle, debuting in New York as an electrified GT that looks like it should be part of the virtual Vision Gran Turismo fleet. Only it isn't.
The G70 sedan that's appearing with the Essentia at the New York Auto Show is indicative of what we're talking about. It's a well-rounded entry-level performance luxury offering with sporty looks, turbo four and twin-turbo V6 engines, auto and manual transmissions, RWD and AWD configurations, the latest in driver assistance and voice control, and plenty of standard and optional interior luxury. But after a long Easter weekend, we'll probably forget all about it.
We most definitely won't forget the Essentia, and we don't think many 2018 NYIAS visitors will either. Genesis describes the car as the initial concept for a true GT car, as well as the brand's first battery electric vehicle.
The Essentia's design was guided by the Genesis philosophy of "athletic elegance," though we think that "elegant aggression" might be even more appropriate for the dramatic proportions and low-to-ground stance. The flowing, sharply nosed hood, the bulging rear haunches, the taut rear-end with smoothly integrated spoiler, and the dramatically arched, rear-slung cabin all add up to a sports car that begs to be pushed to its limits any time a driver is inside. Even with no one at the wheel, it looks like it's ready to catapult forward on its Midas metal copper wheels, like a bullet from a rifled barrel.
Up front, Genesis designers have capitalized on the Essentia's electric underpinnings, eliminating the usual broad grille in favor of a more compact interpretation of the brand's crest grille. That grille is flanked by intakes directing air around the corners and a set of razor-thin Quad Light laser optical strips pulled from the Genesis GV80 SUV concept.
The gorgeous muscles and lines of the Essentia's body are built from carbon fiber and hung on a carbon monocoque. Those who desire a closer look at the underlying structure can get it through the transparent hood panel, which also provides a view of the pushrod suspension.
Genesis hasn't detailed all the powertrain specs but does say the Essentia relies on a multi-motor powertrain wired to an I-shaped high-density battery pack in the center tunnel. It estimates the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint at 3.0 seconds.
Instead of simply loading the Essentia with the usual suspects of current and next-gen connectivity, Genesis has molded connectivity to the type of touring it has in mind for the concept. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology are there, but they aren't there solely for the purpose of getting from A to B as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. The Genesis combines V2X data with machine learned information about driver preferences to build routes specifically for the driver.
So if you prefer winding, cliff-hugging two-lane roads over car-vomiting freeways (who doesn't), you might have a longer commute, but you'll have a much better time while en route. That sounds like a brilliant use of purpose-tuned AI to us, and Genesis' system even adjusts settings – from seat position, to chassis tune, to audio – based on the character of the route, further enhancing the experience.
Before that experience gets underway, the driver and passengers step through the Essentia's biometric-operated dual butterfly doors. Inside, they're treated to an artistic explosion of color and surfacing, Cognac leather wrapping around the Oxford Blue of the dashboard and front foot wells. On the seats, the Cognac leather is quilted in a chevron pattern, a texture that contrasts strongly with the web-like carbon fiber structure and trim. The Oxford Blue velvet rear seats complete the alternating color/material theme.
As is almost mandatory on a modern concept car, the cockpit is heavily digital, but it's not so overwhelming as to interfere with the connection between driver, vehicle and road. The 8-in digital instrument display directly in front of the driver includes only information essential to driving, pushing less essential information out to the sides. Voice command provides a more natural means of control, keeping the driver's focus on the black pavement ahead.
But Genesis couldn't quite help itself from spewing a bit of extraneous tech into its cutting edge GT concept. A few AI features have little to nothing to do with the ride, such as smart home integration and electronic payments.
It seems like a high-performance production grand tourer might be one of the next projects awaiting Genesis engineers. In the meantime, the Essentia should definitely raise the company's profile as it flashes its pursed lips and blade-edge lights in and beyond the Big Apple.
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