In a curated conference room with see-through ceiling cutouts to the swimming pool above us and walls brightened by calming blue streams of light, Erwin T. Raphael, the U.S. general manager for Genesis, pitched a select group of lifestyle and automotive writers the brand new Genesis G90 large luxury sedan. For Raphael, it was the third time he’d be giving this exact presentation, but the journalists, holding their craft cocktails or high-end wine while sitting in cushy white leather seating, were waiting to see whether or not the flagship vehicle for this upstart extension of Hyundai Motor Company would legitimately be able to compete with its intended targets, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7-Series.

You could tell why Raphael, a 25-year automotive industry veteran, was chosen as the one to lead Genesis and why he was the man speaking in front of us. He’s a natural charismatic talker. He was calm, firm, and confident, the type that makes you feel like he was explaining something directly to you rather than making a generic speech to a large group.

Amidst the 60-something-slide presentation, his confidence hit its peak when he said,  “I’m not worried about the product. We have a great product.” I know what you’re thinking. “Duh, dude. Of course he’s going to say that, he’s literally trying to convince you it’s an amazing car. It’s a simple sales move.” And that’s absolutely true, but it was the way he said it. It was quick, as if he didn’t need to talk about the car at all and wanted to move on to more important issues. It was dismissive, almost as if that weren’t the real focus, despite the fact that we had been flown out to stay in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver specifically for that reason. And that’s because, in reality, the cars, though they’re the foundation, aren’t the focus for the newly separated luxury brand. Genesis wants to make the purchase of their car an all-encompassing experience that hones in on making the buyer’s life easier than ever before.

The coolest part is this valet. They’re not talking about parking your car, they’re talking about you scheduling exactly when you want your car serviced with your app, and somebody will come to any location you set, drop off an equal car, take your car in for check-ups and changes, then drive your car back to you in a set amount of time.

Raphael and the Genesis focused on something that I hadn’t really heard from a car presentation before: time being the ultimate luxury. Their words, not mine. With our society constantly becoming more selfish, lazier or busier (depending on who you are), and more dependent on technology, Genesis wants buying its car to also mean buying a package that shows the utmost respect of the buyer’s time. Because the car will come with such a specialized service, it will only be sold in select Hyundai stores until they get their own dealerships. From 835 Hyundai stores, only about 450 of those sold the Equus, and of those, Genesis is choosing less than 300 to plant flags in. It’ll kind of be like those Beats by Dre, Microsoft, or Apple set ups you see in Best Buys, where they have their own little sections and their own people to cater to the customers.

The complimentary service packages are all based on three-year timelines. Three years/36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance, three years/36,000 miles “valet services,” three years connected smartphone services like remote controls for the doors or climate control, and three years of SiriusXM with various news and automatically updating maps. That all comes with the car. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s all three-year spans because Genesis is expecting about 70 to 80 percent of sales to be leased contracts. And if you actually purchase, you get their famous 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty

The coolest part is this valet. They’re not talking about parking your car, they’re talking about you scheduling exactly when you want your car serviced with your app, and somebody will come to any location you set, drop off an equal car, take your car in for check-ups and changes, then drive your car back to you in a set amount of time. That means buyers would never have to set foot in a dealership, if they didn’t want to, and again, hours could be saved for the customer. That’s a great thing, especially considering some think Hyundai has a poor customer service reputation. Still, none of this matters if the car isn’t up to par.

Pricing
The price of this car, and its price relative to its competitors, is extremely important to how it’s compared to the others and how it could succeed. The G90 will start at $68,100 for the twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive. If you want all-wheel drive, it’s only a slight tick up to $70,600. Or, if you want a V8 with rear-wheel drive, it’ll cost $69,700 with a bump up to $72,200. That’s cheap, considering the standard features you get that will pile up more money on the other cars. We’ll get into more details below, but you’re getting a tremendous amount of tech for that price. For comparison, the S-Class with a biturbo V8 starts at $96,000, the 7-Series starts at $81,500 with a turbocharged inline-6, the Cadillac CT6 with a twin-turbocharged V6 starts at $87,495, the Audi A8 with a supercharged V6 starts at $81,500, the Lexus LS with a V8 starts at $72,520, and the 210-mile Tesla Model S 60 starts at $67,200.

Overall, it’s a handsome car that is more appealing to the eyes than most of its peers. And maybe best of all for them, it has a cool badge.

Exterior
Let me start out by saying that I don’t think any cars in this segment are great-looking. The A8 is one of the most boring-looking cars I’ve ever seen, I’m turned off by the Model S more and more every time I see one, the S-Class is very meh, the CT6 is a just a blend of the ATS and CTS, and the Acura RLX and Lexus LS aren’t really even worth talking about, looks-wise. Nearly forgot about Jaguar, as well, but the XJ is actually kind of sharp. None of them really grab me. Maybe that’s because I’m not a boring rich dude who wears $5,000 suits and falls victim to an expected idea of what it is to be classy, or maybe it’s because they’re not designed to be exceptionally dramatic.

These cars are supposed to unoffensive, smooth, and stately. That said, at the risk of sounding like a shill, I genuinely think the G90 and the 7-Series own the best-looking faces in top-shelf luxury sedans, even with the LED jewel running lights that are on every car on the planet these days. That probably stems from my love of the G80, formerly the Hyundai Genesis, but whatever. Tesla and Benz fanboys can @ me if you think I’m an idiot. The bodies on these boats pretty much all look the same, save for the Model S, which kinda looks like a cross between a bar of soap and an ergonomic mouse.

The exteriors of all Genesis cars are supposed to be inspired by the New York Concept that debuted in, well, New York. The language is named “athletic elegance,” which is a great name, but I don’t think it really translates for this particular model. Athletic, at least to me, means something more fierce, maybe more stanced, more angular. The G90 is mostly made up of flat lines, which is okay, because these limos are traditionally upright and hold a massive presence, just don’t call it athletically elegant.

Pronounced by just a little bit too much chrome are the usual proportions of these large sedans. Gigantic wheelbase, longer hood, extremely short overhangs on the nose and butt. That’s the formula for a gigantic interior. In a move that could be seen as a positive or negative, depending how you look at it, it’s very obviously related to the recently restyled old Hyundai Genesis/G80. I love the way that car looks, and I’m a fan of the trapezoidal grille, but you can’t help but think they could have been a little more creative. One extremely small thing I noticed the G90 doesn’t have: automatically folding side mirrors when you get out of the car, a recent trend that is absolutely unnecessary, but that’s luxury, right?

Overall, it’s a handsome car that is more appealing to the eyes than most of its peers. And maybe best of all for them, it has a cool badge.

Genesis recognized the coffee-shop trend by offering seven different color lighting setups as well, which can set the mood alongside the powerful and clear 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Interior
I have a love/hate relationship with the interior in the G90. I generally have a problem with traditional things when it comes to products, because I hate falling in line with lanes that were set up before I was born, and this interior has a traditional uber-luxury sedan vibe, but it’s a pretty well-done interior. And it’s comfortable as hell.

When you open the driver door, the seat moves back to make it easier to step in like it’s opening its arms for a hug. Once you sit down, you can save three locked positions, which you set with the 22-way controls. Even the passenger seat has 16-way, and the rear seats have 12-way. The seats are wrapped in a pleasant-to-the fingers and wonderfully smelling Napa leather. It’s not leather couch cushy, but the give offers a nice balance of support and figure-forming. My driving partner had trouble getting his lower back comfortable, but I think he was just being picky. Unlike the S-Class, there aren’t massagers in the thrones, which Genesis says is because the available tech isn’t good enough. They’re not going to throw around the words “hot stone” unless it literally feels like a hot stone massage.

The heating and cooling both worked wonderfully, however, and even the rear seats and steering wheel are heated. The suede headliner is a nice touch, too. A major point was a quiet cabin, so Genesis spent a ton of time to minimize road noise with double-paned glass, triple seals on the doors, double window lips, sound absorption panels in the floors, and even extra foam in the pillars. It’s evident while driving and having a normal-volume conversation.

The S-Class is the industry standard for interior ambiance and luxury. The only interior better than the Benz that I’ve experienced is that of Rolls-Royces (mayyyybe a Bentley) and even so, some people would argue the S has more flair than the Ghost. So, compared to the crafted living room-type experience you get in the S-Class, the G90 doesn’t really get there, but like I said, nothing does.

The G90 has some great features and some parts I didn’t think belonged in a car intended to be such high-class. It absolutely feels upscale, but there were some annoying cheaper pieces that do not qualify as quality. It’s a very open and spacious cockpit, the lines are clean, everything is easy to find and organized well, the 12.3-inch HD center screen (same as the S-Class) is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a car, the aluminum pieces on the speakers and outlining the center console are sweet, and the button layout (hooray buttons and dials!) is damn near perfect. Genesis recognized the coffee-shop trend by offering seven different color lighting setups as well, which can set the mood alongside the powerful and clear 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I hate the glossed wood paneling. BUT, it’s a staple of these types of cars, and the types of wood and the grain in the G90 are in fact real and looked swell. The prospective buyers should love it. I don’t understand why they can’t carry over the porous matte wood from the G80, which is one of my new favorite interior features, but maybe that’ll come in the future. The surround on the center screen is literally a piece of flat black plastic, the casing around the buttons is a gloss black plastic, and for some reason, the font for the printed identifying words felt elementary. The turn signal and wiper sticks also felt quite flimsy.

Genesis made it a point to note that luxury is an ever-evolving aesthetic, and this car is supposed to be a progressive next step. It’s definitely better than the Equus, but the interior doesn’t feel like anything ground-breaking, even if it does have little crystal things in the dome lights.

As far as I’m concerned, in this segment, you should be able to drive without being reminded that you’re driving. It should be effortless, mindless and comforting.

Tech
Genesis continues to be the best car feature value on the planet. The G90 has far more standard tech and options, and at a lower price, than any of its opponents, and it’s not even close. If you have a new Samsung phone, the center console has automatic wireless charging, smart cruise control with start/stop, heated steering wheel with haptic feedback that’s not annoying, power side window shades, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep, a 360-degree camera, rear seat USB ports, and probably the most useful color heads-up display I’ve driven with. Of course, it also has the now-expected features like parking sensors, high-beam assist, blind-spot detection, and headlights that bend around corners and offer automatic high-beams.

Controls for the 7-inch digital gauge cluster are easy to use on the steering wheel, and a nice-feeling bezeled metal dial at your right hand with surrounding buttons controls the center screen smoothly and fairly responsively.

Power and Efficiency
For power, Genesis is offering a new 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 (which I drove) that puts out 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque or an improved version of the 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque (which I previously drove in the Hyundai Genesis). Both are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and can be had with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Just like in the previous Hyundai Genesis, I had a great experience with the V6. Never was I frustrated with desire for more get-up, the torque is distributed evenly without any gaps (that I noticed), and if you really want to, you can break plenty of speeding laws without a problem.

As far as gas mileage goes, the TTV6 averages 20 mpg with a max of 24, and the V8 averages 19 and maxes out at 24.

Drive
As far as I’m concerned, in this segment, you should be able to drive without being reminded that you’re driving. It should be effortless, mindless, and comforting.  Surprisingly, despite this car being 205 inches long, it didn’t feel cumbersome being behind the wheel. The ride felt more like gliding than driving, and fortunately, it didn’t feel too floaty, which is a common problem with cars this large. Though most of our drive was on stretched-out highway rather than mountain roads, the car felt quite sturdy and took fast exit and on ramps well. Besides, if you’re worrying about getaways around corners, you’re looking at the wrong car. It’s a comfort haven, and if you think otherwise, you’re just being snooty.

If they’re really that devoted to saving customers’ time, autonomy should be a priority, so, you know, people can get things done while the car drives itself.

Problems
1. As of right now, there is no driverless tech (unless you count the lane-keep and adaptive cruise control), and Raphael wouldn’t comment on development on any. If they’re really that devoted to saving customers’ time, autonomy should be a priority, so, you know, people can get things done while the car drives itself.

2. A major part of luxury is individuality and being able to express your sense of identity. The people at Genesis repeatedly said that the brand and the G90 is human-centric, but the package options for this car are actually kind of limited. Part of that, and this is great, is because there are already so many standard features that you don’t have to pick and choose what you want to spend you money on, but styling the car has only a few choices. You can pick between a 3.3T Premium with the V6 or the 5.0 Ultimate with the V8, both with the two drive options. Beyond that, you get six colors (white, silver, gray, blue, brown, black) and two interiors (black with walnut wood or beige with gray ash) to pick from. That’s not a ton of room to really make the vehicle yours.

3. Although it’s always fantastic to aim for the highest possible achievement, there’s an inherent issue with the brand simply by how it’s launching. Genesis doesn’t want to be thought of as an extension of Hyundai, but it’s already carried over a car that was a Hyundai with the G80. Genesis says that the G90 and the rest of its cars should be compared to the Benzes and the Beamers, and they will, but a more natural comparison is with the likes of Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti, simply because they were all spawned by a mother company that makes lower-quality vehicles. Not to mention they’re starting by selling the cars out of Hyundai dealerships.

4. Price-wise, the more equal comparison for this vehicle is to the CT6 and the LS. But, Genesis calls those secondary tier competitors and really pushed that aiming for Benz and BMW is the main goal. But if you truly want to compete against the big brands, why not go full-out and make a car that leaves nothing to complain about. Spend what you need to spend and create a vehicle that is lovely to touch at every inch, even if it might cost another $5,000-$10,000. We realize the bargain aspect is certainly one way to draw customers in, but, especially for a first-impression launch, a little extra cost could go a long way.

Future
Genesis plans to have six models in the lineup by 2021. As of now, the bloodline includes the G80 (mid-luxury sedan) and the G90 (large luxury sedan), but future model plans include the G70 (near-luxury sedan), a mid-luxury SUV, a near-luxury sport coupe, and a near-luxury SUV.

Bottom Line
Genesis knows that this is truly an incredible opportunity and one that rarely happens in the auto industry. There have been a select few impactful luxury brand launches in the past half-century. Audi launched in 1970, Acura came in 1986, Lexus and Infiniti came in 1989, Tesla (if you want to include them) originally debuted in 2004, and Genesis is here to make its mark in 2016.

The G90’s looks are as good as it gets in this segment and offer a pretty powerful presence. Both engine options are great, the extremely comfortable ride stays composed and doesn’t feel as large as the car is, and the interior is a lovely place to sit (front and rear), even if it has a few flaws. It’s a solid first effort with excellent backing in the G80. It won’t steal the luxury spotlight, but it’ll definitely swipe away customers from other brands. For the price, you won’t find a more feature-packed car, and it’s doubtful you’ll find a better overall experience.