Dec 10, 2023

Our Matte Genesis G90's Tiny Fender Bender Cost Us Big Bucks

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Surveying the damage to our lovely Genesis G90's rear fender and bumper on a Dallas roadside, it all seemed excruciatingly minor. There were some scrapes in the paint, barely rising to gouges just above the right rear tire, and the faintest dent in the sheetmetal where it meets the plastic rear bumper.

A careless fellow motorist had bumped into the G90's flank while we were stopped at a light, during their attempt to exit an adjacent gas station and slip behind our sedan to reach the next lane over. On any other car, some touch-up paint and a good buffing might render the wounds unnoticeable, perhaps even undetectable. Our G90 is not just any other car, though—it's a six-figure luxury sedan clothed in Genesis's extra-cost Makalu Gray matte finish.

The paint's $1,500 up-front cost is only the beginning. Opt for the treatment, and you trade shininess for a stunningly dull finish and a strict summer-diet-like regimen of fastidious care. Automatic car washes? Don't even look at their spinning brushes and humping rubber curtains—they'll rub a shine into the matte paint the way your iPhone case's rubberized coating scrapes away at the edges. A bird let loose on the G90's hood? Better not let that scat simmer too long in the sun, or it'll burrow an acidy pore into the paint. Basically, it's best you own a garage or some other covered parking space, lest any number of entirely ordinary byproducts of the general outdoors find their way onto that matte paint. If any do—or, more accurately, when they do—carve out some weekend time for a hand car wash, or have a detailer on speed dial.

Do we sound paranoid? We're merely paraphrasing the G90's owner's manual, which warns owners away from regular automatic car washes—touchless washes are fine—and, more pertinent to our damaged example's paint, insists that only qualified Genesis dealerships should handle paint repairs. Luckily for us, our insurer was willing to cover an estimate and repairs at a Genesis store; we suggest that, if considering a matte-paint Genesis, you check with your insurer to see whether it will work with your local retailer should the need arise.

Believe it or not, this is the first long-term test vehicle we've ever had with matte paint. Such finishes have been around for some years, with the first mainstream example we can recall hailing from Genesis's parent company, Hyundai. Remember the first-generation Veloster hatchback? That unusual three-door compact's hotter Turbo trim introduced a matte gray option way back in 2012. The paint added $1,600 to the Veloster's sticker price and required the same elevated care as the G90's demands.

We weren't entirely prepared for the estimated cost for our G90's repair, which arrived at $4,490.50, but clearly the matte paint matters. You see, matte paint can't be blended the same way regular paint can, meaning you can't simply repair the body damage (in our case, scrapes and a dent) and respray the affected area, blending the new paint into the original finish. Instead, the entirety of every affected painted body panel must be repainted.

Although our little accident occurred nowhere near Dallas's Elm Street, the location of our G90's damage ended up a sort of magic bullet strike at the intersection of two very large body panels: the rear bumper cover, and the whole right quarter-panel stamping, which stretches from the taillight all the way to the windshield from above and to the front fender from below. Considering the sheer expanse that needed painting—and, most of all, the labor involved in disassembling and prepping the G90 for that work—the nearly $5,000 repair estimate makes more sense. Even if the damage was no bigger than this writer's hand.

The repair was handled by Huffines Hyundai of Plano, Texas, which, like many Genesis dealerships, is undergoing a broader transformation from a Hyundai store that also sells Genesis models to having a standalone showroom for the luxury brand. (It should be noted that, at the time of publication, the Dallas-Fort Worth area lacks even a single standalone Genesis retailer—the three stores in the massive metroplex all operate primarily as Hyundai shops.) Given we had virtually no choice in where the repair would be handled (remember, repairs must be made by a Genesis dealer), we dropped off the G90 for its estimate and then conveniently left it there for the repair; a replacement G90 was provided as a loaner.

Over the next two and a half weeks, the G90 underwent a typical repair followed by a respray unlike any other vehicle at Huffines' body shop. With very little room for error—matte paint cannot be buffed, wet sanded, or otherwise manipulated to improve its finish once painting is completed—Genesis stipulates a rash of special measures for the spraying process. While the prep work involved before the paint job is the same as with a glossy finish (ditto the primer stage), everything else is different. Dust, the enemy of any good paint job, can be kryptonite to a matte job, so resprays of matte vehicles are scheduled for first thing in the morning, when Huffines' painter says there is less dust floating around.

Also mitigating dust and other debris? Before the matte-paint vehicle is brought in, the paint booth's walls are washed, and the entire booth gets cleaned and its air filters changed out. The painter is also given a new suit to wear and stays inside the booth for the entirety of the process; no one can enter or leave until the painting is completed to minimize contamination from repeated door openings. Once the color is applied, a three-stage matte-specific clearcoat (yes, it has a clear coating) is laid on. This, we're told, requires finesse. If too much is applied—as in, the painter moves their spray gun too slowly—it imparts more glossiness to the finish. Too little, and the results appear duller. And remember, the painter needs to match the effect of the original unrepaired panels, which in our case include big ones: the trunklid, passenger-side doors, and (for the rear bumper) the opposite-side quarter panel.

Surely this extra care results in a pricier repair? Yes, but not by as much as you'd think. The paint booth precautions present more of a scheduling challenge than added cost—booths are routinely cleaned, and their filters changed, and painters get new suits eventually. We had Huffines run a hypothetical estimate as if our G90 had conventional paint, and mostly by losing the special matte clear and, we assume, some extra prep (the matte job involves more surface area to cover with those whole-panel repaints), the estimated price tag dropped by only $523.30.

Knowing all of this, we'd not stand in your way if you wanted to spring for the G90's matte paint. It, like any add-on, comes with extra precautions. Bigger wheels, for example, beckon owners to park more carefully, lest a curb jump out and mar their rims. If you're into the look and don't mind the care or potential extra cost to repair accident damage, go for it. The G90, for what it's worth, offers two matte finishes: this Makalu Gray and Verbier White, each of which are also available in glossy alternatives.

MotorTrend's 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWDService LifeBase/as Tested PriceOptionsEPA City/HWY/CMB Fuel ECON; CMB RangeAverage Fuel EconEnergy Cost Per MileMaintenances and WearDamagesDays Out Of Service/Without LoanerDelightsAnnoyancesRecalls