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Hyundai-Kia's posh brand Genesis is coming to Britain

Luxury Korean saloons and SUVs are heading to Europe. Question is, will Genesis succeed?

Published: 04 May 2021

Genesis, Hyundai-Kia's posh brand, has given more details of its European and British launch. It kicks off with a £35,000-ish luxury saloon, the G80, and an even bigger £50k SUV, the GV80. They'll be here in summer.

A few months later, the G70 saloon – a Kia Stinger relative – joins the party. Alongside will be the GV70 crossover. That's the one with a shark's fin side pillar arrangement.

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Most of these are four-wheel-drive and V6-engined, so you can imagine company-car CO2 is going to hamper UK sales. But there will be a diesel.

A specific designed-for-Europe car is promised for soon afterward.

And, within that first year, three electric cars will launch too. Given Hyundai-Kia's expertise in battery cars, they should serve up impressive stats, especially the ones using the Koreans' new electric platform as seen in the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5. The first battery car, though, is an electric version of the G80.

Genesis design director Luc Donckerwolke (yup, the ex-Lamborghini man) mentions the double-line signature in the front and rear lights, and a 'parabolic line' through the sides, "which helps to balance the silhouette". He says it gives "the freedom to shift the balance, depending on the personality of the vehicle".

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It's no surprise to hear him say the G70 and GV70 are "more athletic", the G80 and GV80 "status conscious".

The interiors are trimmed in lush materials. They tread a line between the obsessively screen-based and the button-festooned. Donckerwolke again: "We don't offer a finger-buffet of buttons and touchpoints. Instead it is a curated butler service, delivering what you need when you need it."

The brand's European product chief is Tyrone Johnson, best known for the work he did on the Ford Focus RS. He says the suspension and powertrains have been "significantly changed for Europe". The driving characteristic, he says, is about "refined performance". The top GV80 gets adaptive damping with a camera-based road previewing system.

Genesis cars have already gained sales and awards in native Korea and the US (do not mention Tiger Woods).

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But the European market is littered with the corpses of premium brands. Infiniti had perfectly good cars but bailed out. Cadillac too. Alfa Romeo and Jaguar struggle for sales. We asked how Genesis expected to overcome those hurdles.

Back came this: "Europe is the home of premium brands and we think there is space for Genesis. We are confident we can offer products and services which can make a difference, just as we have done elsewhere in the world.

"We aspire to create experiences for our customers, and to always respect the greatest luxury of all – their time. Everything about Genesis in Europe will be built around the customer, and is designed to make life easier – whether that’s home delivery, our Genesis Personal Assistant or across our digital touchpoints."

Basically, there are hardly any dealers. Instead, people can buy online or visit a 'studio'. Most important, they'll be assigned a human 'personal assistant' who will be their one contact during the buying and owning. Again though, similar concierge-type ideas have been tried by other carmakers.

The other big draw is a full five-year no-extra-cost package of warranty, service, access to the assistant and OTA software upgrades. They collect and deliver your car and provide a courtesy car.

So, our question to you: will Genesis's not wholly original range of ICE cars be welcomed here, or should they have made a splash by arriving with EV only? Add your comments below.

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