Expert Reviews

2023 Genesis G90 First Drive Review

Genesis is launching its new G90 flagship sedan, a fabulously sybaritic vessel that the Korean “upstart” luxury brand hopes will further chip away at the ramparts of the established players. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been the king of this hill forever, and while the 2023 G90 will be more of an annoyance to his majesty than an outright threat, it is further proof that Genesis’ unrelenting pursuit of excellence continues its mercurial trajectory.

No matter how good a product, it’s difficult to lure traditional luxury car buyers away from the legacy marques. Yes, there will be some G90 conquest sales, but Genesis says it is “speaking meaningfully” to the Luxury Disruptors – those not so much concerned with the traditional trappings of badge prestige and heritage but drawn to fresh design and thinking.

There’s plenty of that in Genesis’ new halo car. The G90 is an exquisitely crafted piece that wows with its chic design, attention to detail, and sumptuous appointments. And it’s a good drive too, although the two rear seats are a mighty fine place to spend time as well, as evidenced by our chauffeured drive from Miami airport to Key Largo. It’s full limo spec back there. The plush Nappa seats are heated, ventilated, massage you six ways from Sunday, and are blessed with the softest pillows this side of a Rolls-Royce. The G90 takes another page from the Roller playbook with its fully powered closing doors – both front and rear. That certainly makes a statement at the clubhouse.

Slated to arrive in Canada in late August, we will see a single fully-kitted trim level of the G90 (the U.S. gets a lower spec model as well), and as is the way with Genesis, there’ll be an all-in no-haggle price that undercuts the Europeans, a generous warranty, plus five years each of free maintenance, roadside assistance, map updates, and connected services. What else is Genesis going to do, bring the car to your house for a test drive and assure you you’ll never have to step into a dealership? As a matter of fact, yes.

The first 50 Canadian customers benefit from an Ultimate Launch Package that provides free fragrance refills, ceramic paint coating, and a 20-inch winter alloy and tire package that includes free swapping and storage – approximately a $13,000 value, the Genesis brass tells us.

The all-wheel drive 2023 Genesis G90 shares its platform with the G80 sedan and GV80 SUV and uses a new version of Genesis’ 3.5L twin-turbo V6 fitted with a 48-volt mild hybrid system and electric supercharger, the latter adding torque right from step-off. With 409 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque, it’s a smooth unit with no peaks or valleys in the power delivery. Granted, this V6 doesn’t have the V8 soundtrack most legacy brands offer, but nor does it sound coarse or strained. Playing along is the well-calibrated eight-speed auto and rear-wheel steering that effectively shrinks the G90’s turning circle while also adding higher speed stability.

The multi-chamber air suspension works with a front-facing camera that reads the upcoming road surface and predictively adjusts the damping to smooth out the ride. This big sedan delivers on that front, gliding down the road in splendid serenity. All the better to hear the well-tuned 26-speaker 1700-watt Bang and Olufsen audio system. And what would a flagship executive limo be without a gimmick or two? Among the audio settings is Boston Symphony Hall, which simulates that venue’s acoustic signature. It does add a pleasant airy ambience to whatever track you’re playing (classical music benefits the most), but on top of that, there are seven microphones spread about the cabin that, when the music is paused, allow you to hear what your golden vocals would sound like in said symphony hall.

There are four preset moods (vitality, delight, care, and comfort) that curate such elements as music, massage, climate control, ride quality, ambient lighting, and even cabin fragrance to conjure up the feel-good vibes.

Two 12.3-inch screens plus a comprehensive head-up display convey all pertinent information, and access to infotainment and climate controls is mercifully straightforward thanks to the Genesis’ multi-function central control dial, numerous well-marked hard buttons, and clear touchscreen functions. So clean. So logical. So safe. Genesis shows that beautiful design and human-friendly ergonomics can go hand-in-hand in a modern luxury vehicle.

Genesis Connected Services provides over-the-air updates for the lifetime of the car, and of course, Genesis has thrown every safety system and driver aid in its arsenal at the G90. An era-appropriate sanitation compartment that uses UV light (UVC) is found in the rear centre console. Place your phone or any other item you wish sanitized within, and it will be germ-free in 10 minutes. Conspicuous in its absence is wireless function for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While the finely honed interior has a decidedly “best-of-the-British” feel, inspiration from Korea is found in trim that features forged carbon metal inlays and a fascinating material blending recycled newspaper with wood. Every surface is a visual and tactile delight, every seam, stitch and panel gap a lesson in detail obsession.

In Canada, we have eight exterior colours to choose from, with this tester dipped in a rather fetching Makalu Grey matte finish. The G90 is svelt, sexy, and suitably regal, with the most formal element being its thick Bentley-esque C-pillars. The signature Genesis grille gets a double-layer mesh design and is capped with a clamshell hood. The two-line headlights are the thinnest of any Genesis model and feature a complex microlens array. The G90’s slightly tapered derriere also sees the slim two-line light treatment along with a subtle duck-tail spoiler. Setting the whole thing off are striking 21-inch “dual layer” alloys.

My tester had an all-white interior – one that won’t be coming to Canada mainly because of the white carpets. Fine for Miami but not Montreal winters. We are getting Obsidian Black, Dune Beige, and Bordeaux Brown.

Canadian pricing for the 2023 Genesis G90 will be announced in mid-August, with vehicles arriving later in the month. This new flagship is a compelling offering – its embracing warmth and user-friendliness is a welcome alternative to the technocratic German cars in this ultra-luxe segment.