SEOUL: After a decade spent carving out a reputation for affordable and reliable vehicles, 2016 is going to be a watershed year for Hyundai and not simply in terms of sales.
Hyundai was one of the first companies to come to market with a hydrogen fuel cell car - ix35 Fuel Cell - back in 2013 and in January it will be taking the wraps off its first plug-in electric car, the Ioniq.
However, alongside boosting its green car credentials, Hyundai is aiming to break into the luxury segment with its new Genesis brand. This is a much more ambitious move.
The electric car market is still in its infancy so newcomers have the breathing space to be judged in terms of their innovation and technology offering, while the executive sedan market is anything but. To be taken seriously in this segment, a company needs to be able to challenge the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus and a resurgent Cadillac, but with its new Genesis marque, and the talent behind it, Hyundai just may have what it takes.
The first Genesis car - the G90 or EQ900 domestically - has been created to deliver "a concept of 'new luxury' to our customers," said Woong-Chul Yang, Head of Hyundai Motor R&D Center. "[It] demonstrates how we apply our human-centered values to give our customer true satisfaction in every aspect of the vehicle ownership experience."
The G90, which will also make its global debut in South Korea at the beginning of the year, was designed and developed by Luc Donckerwolke - who worked at Bentley and Lamborghini before joining the company - alongside Hyundai's chief design officer and fellow Audi alumni, Peter Schreyer.
"In creating the design signature of Genesis brand cars, we set out to display confidence and originality, creating highly desirable products that present new charm through innovative styling and proportions," said Schreyer.
Genesis plans to have six models to sell by 2020, including SUVs and a base model that will play against the BMW 3 Series and its peers.
As seen in the table below, the G90 which replaces the Equus, will offer three different engines in South Korea. They are a 3.8-litre GDI V6 with 310hp, a 3.3-litre T-GDI V6 with 365hp, and a 5.0-litre GDI V8 that develops 418hp and 520Nm of torque.
From next year, the G90 will be rolling out to foreign markets, including United States, China, Russia and countries in the Middle East.