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[Behind the Wheel] Genesis G90, how different from S-Class

From built-in fragrance, easy-close button to sterilization lamp, Genesis uses small, but strong details to differentiate itself

G90 vehicles are driven on a highway connecting Yongin and Gonjiam, both in Gyeonggi Province, at a media test-drive session Tuesday. Vehicles tested were full-option models priced at 130 million won ($109,000). (Genesis)
G90 vehicles are driven on a highway connecting Yongin and Gonjiam, both in Gyeonggi Province, at a media test-drive session Tuesday. Vehicles tested were full-option models priced at 130 million won ($109,000). (Genesis)
When it comes to luxury sedans, Mercedes Benz’s S-Class easily comes to mind. It’s obviously difficult to go beyond the German carmaker's brand reputation and technology built over decades, but the 6-year-old Korean luxury car brand Genesis is seeking to lure customers in the high-end luxury segment with its flagship full-size sedan G90 that offers a brand new experience different from S-Class. 

Rather than presenting state-of-the-art auto technology to easily edge out its German competitor, the burgeoning South Korean rival appears to have focused on details of in-vehicle experiences and safety for both passengers and drivers.

Stepping inside the vehicle, Genesis’ first-ever built-in fragrance system beckons.

The upgraded digital cockpit that consists of two 12.3-inch screens incorporating Genesis’ new infotainment system with the latest connectivity features dominates the center of the dashboard. The rotary jewel-like shifter in the gearbox offers intuitive in-vehicle interface control. 

All four seats were extra comfortable thanks to 10 air cells in the seatback, which inflate and deflate for easier entry and exit. 

During a 70-kilometer test drive last week, the fourth-generation G90 gave the impression that this flagship sedan can offer a VIP experience even in the driver seat. 

Luxury sedans are surely not intended for rough roads. But Genesis has added new functions to offer a stable driving experience on all road conditions. 

G90’s first Hands-On Detection system determines whether the driver is holding the steering wheel when the semi-autonomous driving system is active, offering more detailed Advanced Driver Assistance Systems control on the road. 

Genesis has also outfitted the new suspension technology to offer a smoother handling performance. G90 offers Preview-Electronic Control Suspension as a basic feature, which adjusts the suspension spring’s stiffness to match the conditions on the road as detected by sensors and cameras.

Adding driving stability, G90’s multichamber air suspension automatically raises the vehicle’s front and rear wheels to protect its undercarriage when the car is traveling on rough roads. On smooth roads, the car lowers itself for speed travel.

G90’s rear wheels can turn by as much as four degrees in the opposite direction at low speeds for easier maneuvering in tight spaces, making the turning radius of the G90 similar to that of a midsize car. It also improves cornering stability and allows the vehicle to make agile movements when changing lanes or avoiding obstacles at medium and high speeds.

But unlike the carmaker’s announcement last year, G90 has dropped the Highway Driving Pilot function that makes automatic lane changes and features Level 3 autonomous driving that allows hands-off driving on highways. 

Inside G90 (The Korea Herald/Kim Da-sol)
Inside G90 (The Korea Herald/Kim Da-sol)

As rear seats are the main focus of flagship luxury sedans, G90’s four-seat VIP configuration was absolutely packed with sumptious luxury features ranging from automatic doors to a foot massager. 

During the 25-minute-long chauffeur-driven experience, the G90’s relaxing seats were overwhelming. 

Offering four different massage programs, the rear seats recline with a footrest and 10.2-inch rear touch screens on the back of the front seats adjust angles accordingly. 

Intuitive easy-close buttons for automatic doors and the crystal-like dial to explore the score of last night’s golf match as well as the closest coffee shop on 10.2-inch touchscreen were useful. 

Like the Lexus, Mercedes Benz S-Class and Audi A8, G90 has adopted an in-vehicle mood setting program.

G90’s Mood Curator uses 3D surround sound with a 23-speaker B&O sound system, ambient lighting, massage seats, fragrance and automatic curtains create an environment to help lift passengers’ mood. 

Bearing the current pandemic situation in mind, Genesis has added a UV-light sterilization lamp inside the storage box underneath the armrest in the rear seat as well as extra air purifiers. 

The G90 houses a new 3.5-liter turbocharged engine matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission boasting a maximum of 380 horsepower and up to 54 kilogram-meters of torque. 

The vehicle will be offered in 12 different paint options, including matte finishes and interesting shades like Hallasan Green. 

Prices begin from 89 million won ($74,800) for the standard model, and its long-wheelbase version sells at 165 million won. 

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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