At the 2007 New York International Auto Show, South Korean automaker Hyundai unveiled a concept vehicle that would be transformed the next year into a premium sports sedan. Officially named “Genesis,” the new car became Hyundai’s first luxury-branded car. It also became the launching pad for what would become a division of Hyundai dedicated to making luxury vehicles: similar to what Toyota, Honda, and Nissan did with Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti, respectively. And this division would be named Genesis Motors, after the new car.
Designed as a rear-wheel drive sedan, the Hyundai Genesis entered the market in 2008, appealing to customers who enjoyed a blend of sports-like driving dynamics and premium-quality tech features. The Genesis became immensely successful, winning fans among critics and drivers alike for its plush and spacious interior, powerful line-up of engines, and top safety ratings. Reacting to the strong sales numbers of the Genesis—especially when stacked up against rivals in the luxury-car market such as the Audi A6, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—Hyundai officially announced on November 4, 2015 that it would spin off the Genesis nameplate into the company’s luxury vehicle division.
Chris Hosford, Hyundai’s U.S. spokesman, presented three reasons for the spin-off. One, Hyundai had been impressed with the Genesis’s performance in the luxury-car space. Two, the Genesis ranked among the top-three sellers in said segment. And three, the Genesis had begun to forge a brand identity. “The customers have told us they wanted the brand,” said Hosford. “They say, ‘I want the Genesis badge.’ Some Genesis customers have been re-badging their cars as Genesis on their own.”
Currently, Genesis Motors has three cars in its line-up. The original Genesis vehicle is now known as the Genesis G80. Trims are determined by the choice of engine. There’s the 3.8-liter V6, which generates 311 horsepower and 293 lb-ft of torque; and there’s the 5.0-liter V8, which provides up to 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque (when running on premium-grade fuel). Also, there’s a variant of the G80 dubbed the G80 Sport, which is powered by a 3.3-liter twin-turbo (3.3T) V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. The Hyundai Equus—a full-size limousine-like sedan—was transformed into the Genesis G90, which uses the 3.3T engine.
Each Genesis vehicle has its engine mated to an 8-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission, which a SHIFTRONIC shifter to enable greater control over gear shifting. And although each car uses a rear-wheel drivetrain—which, with the engine at the front, helps promote a better front-to-back weight distribution and consequently better driving performance—customers have the option of going with the HTRAC all-wheel drive for boosting traction control.