It was the end of the first day at the New York International Auto Show, a time when most “journalists” would normally have stopped doing anything that resembled work. Yet there we all were, assembled out in the hallway of Javits Convention Center, of all places, holding our glass bottles of Voss water and waiting to see what was hiding underneath the long blanket on the right side of the stage.
It’s at this point that most of the articles you’ve already read about the Genesis New York Concept start giving you the entire historical background of Hyundai, and the Genesis models, blah blah blah. I give you more credit than that. I know that you already know that the Hyundai Genesis sedan was a legitimate contender in its segment (especially you, BTSR).
The difference now is that everybody else seems to know that not only does the Genesis brand seem to be able to survive, they’re prepared to hit some towering home runs.
Forget that the concept car has a low power output number. Don’t worry that it’s a hybrid. Who cares about the fancy screen inside?
What matters is that Genesis has proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they can design a beautiful, compelling, dazzling car that people genuinely desire. But in order to understand why that’s important, one has to look back at the histories of other Asian luxury brands.
It’s hard to remember this now, but there was a point in this nation’s history, and it wasn’t even that long ago, that it was a somewhat bold choice to pick a Lexus LS400 or an ES250 over the safer choices from Germany and Detroit. Infiniti and Acura were players at that time, too, but they never truly got the traction that Lexus did, did they? Why is that?
The answer is simple: Women love Lexus.
Poor Infiniti. They never had a chance. Remember the original J30 and Q45s? They were strangely beautiful, completely different than anything we’d seen on these shores. The automotive press fawned all over the G35 coupe when it come out, praising its sporting capabilities and its bold styling. It was the closest thing we had to a Skyline at that time.
Suburban women looked at the Infiniti lineup, shook their damn heads, and went and got a Lexus.
Acura tried to be bold, too, with the Legend, the Integra, hell, even the Vigor. It wasn’t until they got smart and started making an MDX that was pretty much purpose-built for the fairer sex they got any traction in the marketplace whatsoever.
Don’t forgetÂ â€” women make most of the car purchasing decisions in America. Even if they aren’t the primary drivers, they’re influencers. They’re the ones taking kids to dance and soccer practice. They’re the ones putting the majority of miles on road nowadays.
So I started polling my female friends. I sent pictures of not only the New York Concept, but also the G80 and G90. Many of them are Lexus and Mercedes loyalists. I asked them one simple question: “Would you drive this car?”
Every single one said yes.
If Genesis can bring these cars to market â€” they claim that the New York isn’t a “concept,” but rather a “picture of where we are in the development process” â€” as well as an upscale CUV, then I think they’ll leave the Hyundai stigma in the rear view quite quickly. WeÂ might know that the G80 and G90 are just rebranded Hyundais, but it’s entirely likely that the primary target audience won’t.
For now, it looks like Hyundai plans to just have the Genesis brand off in the corner of existing Hyundai stores. While it might be a safe, smart, easy way to get the brand going, they’re going to have to spin them off into their own showrooms if they truly want to establish Genesis as a luxury brand. Nobody wants to be reminded that the Accent exists when they’re looking at a G90.
Let’s hope, for their sake, that Genesis learns from their Japanese friends’ mistakes, and becomes more Lexus than Infiniti.
[Image: Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]