Watch out for Genesis!

If there's one thing any brand worth it's salt strives for, it is to have a strong and distinct identity. If that's sorted, everything else usually fall in place. Genesis - Hyundai's luxury arm - has seemingly cracked this code after years of stuttering and misjudged decisions.

Before we get to that, let's not forget how it all began. Genesis started life as Hyundai's flagship model, announcing the car-maker's intent to get into the high-stakes luxury space. The ingredients were all there - an exclusive rear-wheel drive platform, a gem of a V8 engine, sorted road manners siding towards comfort, acres of space, boatload of features and shockingly good value. But there was a problem - 'Brand Hyundai' wasn't even associated with premium, let alone luxury.

This confused identity led to a rare car that neither had its maker's logo up front nor a badge at the rear. Those fears, though, were unwarranted. The car debuted to critical acclaim and commercial success in its very first year of sale in major markets like South Korea and the United States of America. Clearly, the 'E-Class space and luxury for C-Class money' formula worked.

It wasn't until the Coupe's debut in 2010 Hyundai mustered courage to affix it's logo and slap a 'Genesis' badge. The decision to spin Genesis off into a standalone luxury brand came much later, almost at the end of 2015.

Having made that call, Hyundai should have gone the whole hog, giving Brand Genesis the space and identity it needed to pull in customers from the established luxury brands. Instead, they chose to first sell Genesis cars alongside entry-level models like the Accent before going back on their decision a couple of years later. The clean but generic styling of Genesis cars didn't help either, as the brand struggled to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Come 2020, Genesis is in a different league.

Under Luc Donckerwelke's supervision (who is no longer with Genesis), the brand has been successful in creating a design language that's both unique and impactful. Though there were hints along the way like the stunning 2018 Essentia Concept, those muscular lines and quad-lighting signature have lent themselves beautifully in the new third-generation G80 sedan and the all-new GV80, Genesis' first-ever SUV. The large crest-shaped grilles are in-your-face, no doubt, but that's sadly the norm these days. Plush, well-appointed interiors complement the stylish exteriors.

The Koreans haven't stopped with just the cars. Standalone Genesis studios are being set up in major cities and posh localities worldwide like this one in Suji, just outside Seoul. Who wouldn't feel good stepping into such stores for getting to know their next car?

Established luxury brands out there, watch out! Genesis is coming at you. Fast.

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