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2023 Genesis G90 First Drive: High Noon for the Korean Saloon

2023 Genesis G90, second row of seats
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, second row of seats

For executives who prefer to be driven around, meanwhile (and yes, there’s a “Chauffeur” setting, which helps control brake pressure), they should remember to always sit on the right side of the second row, because that’s where they’re going to enjoy the near-fully reclining VIP seat (possible because the front seat will fold over forwards automatically when you request the resting position for your seat in the commands on the centre console of your row). Feet up, in a near horizontal position, head settled on the soft cushion and with the massage function on within your Nappa leather seat, you’re all set for a good rest. All that’s missing is the right mood…

But wait! There’s the Mood Curator for that (with four choices: vitality, delight, care and comfort), on hand to massage your sense of hearing. Also your sense of smell. The first is thanks to the 1,700-watt Bang and Olufsen audio system with its 26 speakers and concert hall mode. Two of the speakers are installed in the driver’s head-rest, by the way. When using the native nav system, its voice will whisper sweet nothings – instructions, actually – into your ear and your front passenger will be none the wiser.

How about your sense of smell, you ask? That gets massaged thanks to the fragrance diffuser that can release the right scents into the cabin for your enjoyment.

2023 Genesis G90, VIP seat
Photo: Genesis
2023 Genesis G90, VIP seat
2023 Genesis G90, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, three-quarters rear

The powertrain
In typical Genesis style, the product offering is simple, especially in Canada, which gets only the one powertrain, featuring AWD and a V6 engine (American consumers do get a second engine option as well, one without supercharging).

The Canadian G90’s 3.5L engine delivers 409 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque when using high-octane fuel, working in tandem with an 8-speed automatic transmission that you are unlikely ever to really notice at work. There are paddle shifters but there’s really no point to using them, to be honest. You don’t drive an executive car like this so you can spend your time fiddling with the shifting, inevitably less efficiently than the box can do on its own.

In short, the powertrain provides plenty of power to move this boat at a good clip, and get it up to speed in a hurry. The new multi-chamber air suspension keeps things nice and smooth, while the body – 12 percent more rigid than the outgoing model, Genesis says – keeps things relatively tight. This car never gets sporty, let me be clear, but that’s not its mandate anyways, paddle shifters or no.

2023 Genesis G90, three-quarters front
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, three-quarters front

On the road, the G90 comes as advertised, in the sense that the ride is oh-so-smooth, the powertrain is perfectly suited to kilometre-eating highway cruising, sound insulation within the cabin is first-rate, seating is very comfortable no matter where you sit, and there are countless ways to customize your experience inside the car, day in, day out. Oh and did I mention the efficacy of that A/C system?

There could be a touch more sportiness from the drive - the steering for example is on the light side, so your conversations with the road surface remain a little distant. But really, if you want that then go for the G70.

Genesis has yet to release official pricing for the 2023 G90 sedan, but it did provide a preliminary range that goes from $110,000 to $125,000 CAD. That's a lot but it's less than what Mercedes charges for its S-Class (between $129,000 and $145,000). There's the usual argument here about the Mercedes offering an amount of cache that justifies the difference, but judged on their own merits, the two cars are not far apart.

In any case, Genesis knows that it won't all of a sudden start selling a ton of this gas-powered niche vehicle. This is a statement car for the brand as it works to make its place as a genuine luxury brand. And it arrives at Genesis boutiques in Canada later this month.

By the way, Genesis Canada is offering the first 50 Canadian buyers an Ultimate Launch Package that includes free fragrance refills, ceramic paint coating and a 20-inch winter alloy / tire package complete with free changes and storage. In Genesis' estimation, the value of that package is around $13,000.

The 2023 Genesis G90, on the beach
Photo: D.Boshouwers
The 2023 Genesis G90, on the beach

We like

Super comfortable in every seat
Chauffeured execs will love that right-side rear seat
Well-proportioned shape, appealing exterior
Smooth-as-silk ride
Tight turning radius for a big boat
Priced advantageously compared to the big Germans

We like less

Not much hint of sportiness
Tenuous road-connectedness from the steering
Expected resale value still not on par with the big Germans
No wireless function for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The competition

Audi A8
BMW 7 Series
Lexus LS 500
Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2023 Genesis G90, rear
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, rear
2023 Genesis G90, door handle
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, door handle
2023 Genesis G90, badging
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, badging
2023 Genesis G90, hood, headlight
Photo: D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90, hood, headlight
Photos:D.Boshouwers
2023 Genesis G90 pictures