Last month, Hyundai revealed it was going upmarket with its new Genesis sub-brand and provided a teaser of the flagship G90 model. Now the automaker has taken the wraps off the car, revealing a new semi-autonomous driving system, as well as over-the-top comfort features like super-ergonomic seats that have been given the tick of approval by a German association devoted to preventing backache.
The first battle for Hyundai is catching people's eyes in the showroom, so the G90's design has come from the very top. Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, who is best known for his work on the original Audi TT, oversaw the design, which is centred around the "CREST" grille that will eventually feature across the range. The other design cue that will carry across the range is the LED headlamps, which flow around the corners of the bonnet.
At the rear we find neat vertical lamps and twin chromed exhausts, which look good, but seem slightly derivative of the Mercedes S-Class to our eyes.
Inside, most of the car's infotainment is handled by a 12.3-inch HD screen in the center console. The screen also plays host to a 360-degree Around View Monitor that is designed to make parking manoeuvres in the big Hyundai easier. Audiophiles will be pleased to know the G90 is fitted with a Lexicon Sound System that uses Clari-fi software to rebuild the detail lost in heavily compressed music.
Whether the system stacks up against the quality of Audi's incredible 3D setup remains to be seen, but high-end audio is emerging as a battleground in the luxury market, so it's good to see Hyundai trying to set its cars apart in that area.
As the Germans move towards smaller, turbocharged engines in their luxury cars, Hyundai has stuck with larger displacement to power the G90. The smallest engine on offer is a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 producing 272 kW (365 hp), while a 232-kW (311-hp) naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 is also available. But the one you'd really want is the range-topping, 5.0-liter V8 producing 313 kW (419 hp) and 520 Nm of torque, which is enough to send the 5.2-meter (17-ft) long G90 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds.
Those engines are all coupled with an eight-speed torque converter transmission, and the power is sent to the rear wheels unless buyers tick the option box for all-wheel drive.
Oddly enough, there's no mention of fuel economy figures from Hyundai, but it's fairly safe to expect the 3.3-liter turbo engine to return the best economy figures of the lot.
If Hyundai hasn't wasted much time developing high-tech engines for the G90, it has taken a vastly different approach to the interior. In the Korean market, drivers sit on a Smart Posture Caring System seat that features 22 ranges of adjustment, and automatically tweaks the seat, steering wheel, wing mirrors and heads-up display to the best possible position for the driver and getting it the approval of the German Aktion Gesunder Rücken (Campaign for healthier backs). Unfortunately, this feature can only be had on the Korean market EQ900 version.
Another feature that has been limited to the Korean market is the new semi-autonomous Highway Driving Assistance system, which combines the smart cruise control, lane keeping assist and some specific hardware to make the driver's life easier on the highway.
Beyond that, the system isn't all that well explained, but it sounds like Hyundai's grandiose claims of a "step towards fully-autonomous motoring" are a little overblown when you consider what brands like Mercedes are promising for their future models.
There's no word on pricing yet, but expect the G90 to significantly undercut the price of the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series that are essentially the same size. Whether or not offering S-Class luxury at an E-Class price will be enough to woo buyers, there's no question Hyundai is committed to making its new luxury brand a contender.
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