2017 Genesis G80 5.0 Ultimate – HD Road Test Review – By Tom Burkart

The Genesis launch is in full swing for 2017!

No more Hyundai badges to be found anywhere on the two-model range.  Flying wings for the nose and tail are a huge relief for customers who disliked the previous dissonance of two ‘brand’ emblems on the same car.

The G80 and its EQUUS-replacing G90 are both lightly refreshed beyond the badge upgrades, however.

We were blessed to spend a week in the top G80: the 5.0-liter V8 Ultimate.  This rear-drive sports sedan delivers some SERIOUS heat to chase its 550i and E550 rivals.

How do 420 ponies and sub-5-second sprints sound to you??

They sure feel good from the driver’s seat.

Is the G80 V8 the sweet spot of the new Genesis range?  And what exactly does owning a Genesis mean for buyers?

Answers to these questions and much more in this detailed drive review.  Plus an unusually good drive video and the requisite 50 photos.

Here is a spoiler alert: the 5.0 badge out back on our G80 is, shockingly, even more amazing than the new G80 and Genesis winged emblems.  For this motor delivers an a surreal blend of BOSS power – but without the $20k bump in price that comes when fitting German luxury cars with their big V8s.

 

HD Performance Drive Review Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anVSLE1824g

 

EXTERIOR

Genesis is all-new, but the G80 will feel quite familiar to your eyes.  The G80 continues with the updated daytime-running-lights that made their debut in a mini 2016 modelyear update.

Basically, the LED fogs and LED daytime running lights that were originally V8 exclusives are now fitted to the top G80 V6s.

A clean nose is still as elegant and imposing as it was when launched for 2015.  The shield grille shape is detailed with horizontal inner slats – all in a matching dark pewter finish that makes clear how dated a big chrome nose is in 2017.

LED fogs and bi-xenon main beams complete the nose lighting setup – with those DRLs running bright and proud with cache and elegance on par with Jaguars and the Euro crew.

More lighting goodness around the side: with the ‘globo’ of Genesis badge shining onto the pavement to keep you clear of any puddles as you hop in.

The larger 19-inch alloys are one of the quickest give-aways that this Genesis is the big V8 model.  They are spider-spoke design with machine-finished edges and slightly darker inner spokes.

The other huge clue to the 5.0 status of the machine – even totally debadged – would be the new rear flanks, lower diffuser tray and quad exhaust outlets.  No G80 V6’s have this flourish.

The rump of the G80 5.0 even seems a bit wider and more serious than the tapered look of the rear three-quarter panels in the V6.  The 5.0 is all about bulge and emphasis on the quad trumpets.

And it works.  The tail of the G80 is an impressive angle.  The LEDs of the tail running lamps, LED rear turn signals and individual, 3D-looking light pieces lining the lamp horizontally are all deeply sexy and impressive.

All this is great when paired with the G80’s incredibly lux proportions and long-hood feel that invokes the best BMW 7 series silhouettes – without being a clone whatsoever.

With pricing from $39k and the big 5.0 V8 only hitting $55k – the G80 is still your best route to limo-lux style for MUCH less than rivals.

STYLE WISHLIST?

Always a few wishes, right?  We absolutely adore the revamped finishes Genesis debuted for the 2018 G80 Sport.  Gloss black replaces the windowline chrome, while a matte dark grey mesh for the inner grille is fantastic.  Possible optional look on future G80 5.0’s?  G80 5.0 SPORT!?

There is certainly room to grow the pricetag – and leave $35k between that hypothetical G80 5.0 Sport and the cheapest E63 or CTS-V.

 

 

INTERIOR

The cabin of the Genesis G80 is quite special in its hugeness and sense of quality.  The perforated cream leathers on our example felt silky smooth, if a bit less so than the best Nappa leather on some rivals.

Where the G80 really wallops the E-Class or A6, however, is in its sheer scale.

Up front, the center console and armrest is simply as wide as vehicles from the class above.  We’re talking 740i and S550 proportions inside – front and rear.  Measurements bear out this sense of huge size but you note it subjectively too.  Just legroom, hip and shoulder room for days!

This plays double for the rear seat and its extra comfy seatback angle and giant legroom tallies.

The sense of quality is certainly up there with the big Europeans who dominate this segment of car.  The vehicle’s cabin all feels impeccably assembled and surprisingly high quality touchpoints.  The obvious dashtop and other soft-touch areas are understated and elegant, if in a slightly plain and conservative way. The G80 truly feels rock-solid in its assembly quality inside and out.

Where the G80 is slightly down versus its super-premium rivals is in the intangibles. The steering wheel design is slightly dated now, the wheel rim slightly too-thin versus V8-powered rivals, and its light palette inside for the headliner and other details like the cream lower dashboard.  We’d like a darker, moodier palette of colors and a dark headliner to set the mood properly on a rocketship limo.

The open-pore wood is still quite impactful and nicely tactile, but again could be ratcheted up a bit in its appear with a named type of tree – and more choices to customize this.  We’re also slightly behind the latest in LED accent lighting around the cabin.

And while the seats and power tilt-telecope steering wheel let you get very, very comfortable indeed – they do not really cosset the body around corners. A bit more support and a bit more pillowing for the headrests would help inside here.

As the G80 Ultimate, the test car lacks for nothing on paper.  Its iDrive-style controller is simple and easy to master, even if the 9.2-inch screen’s graphics and personalization options also leave a bit to be desired.

All this is in the context of V8 luxury sedan rivals, it should be noted.  Versus the Q50, 340i and C-Class – the G80 is still head and shoulders bigger and better inside.

Just a bit more ‘specialness’ via quilted leathers and soft-touch, dark headliner is needed to really vault the G80 into the big leagues of the 550i and others.

 

PERFORMANCE

The G80 V8 has no trouble vaulting itself up to rocket speeds, however!

The eight-speed auto and big V8 torque are on command at all times.  As you know, the G80 5.0 is the 420HP V8 upgrade over the standard 311-pony V6 that is offered in rear or AWD.

Where that car really makes you work and rev out the engine for big speed, the V8 simplifies your speed.  Less throttle needed to get big, big hustle, in other words.

The engine is creamy smooth and we never caught the eight-speed out of the right gear.  We even found respectable grip from the giant rubber out back – and this was an area where the rear-drive V6 disappoints.  The 275-section rear tires are a bump versus the 245s on the V6 models – but perhaps should be standard on all trims.

The G80 feels immensely rigid as a chassis at all times, and this pays dividends on full throttle and around corners.  The steering that is so light around town becomes firmer (if a bit slow) in Sport mode. The nose always feels pretty stuck to the surface, while weight transfer fore/aft and side-to-side is very well managed.

Make no mistake: the G80 5.0 absolutely flies down the road at any speed.  From about 20mph to 80-mph, the G80 5.0 pulls hard yet never loses composure.  At high speeds and during passing, you definitely know there is amble extra power.

The 420 horsepower makes the G80 5.0 feel as fast as the GS-F, but lacks the GS-F’s sensory immersion or the stellar paddle shift snicks of the Germans.

The G80 lacks exhaust note almost entirely, first off.  It has a sophisticated V8 growl up the rev range, but never really goes ‘ballistic’ like even the E550 on full throttle.

The paddle shift of the G80 is also a weak point versus the best in the business.  It gets slightly flummoxed when you ask for multiple downshifts via a double tap on the left paddle.  Most of the time, it just politely ignores the request and gives you just one downshift per whap at the paddle.

Will normal owners mind this observed deficit versus the best Jaguars out there?  Probably not.  But it’s our duty to report findings for that top eschelon of sporty/posh drivers!

The only other note about this masterpiece of a powertrain and handling balance?

The traction control system is still a bit heavy-handed when it notes slip from the back wheels.  Grip itself seems awesome with the wider rubber of the G80 5.0 versus the V6.

But when you are asking it to do the uncouth – things like a brake-torque launch – the G80 V8 unhappy.  Even with the TCS/ESP as off as we would make it… the G80 does not spin its wheels freely at any time.

Yes, perhaps a boyish pursuit.  But it has real-world applications.  Like turning right into highspeed traffic from a loose-grip side street.  The traction control intervention is brakes AND cutting engine power and this continues for at least four seconds once big slip happens.  Definitely a rare thing in normal driving.  But in that turning-right scenario, spinning the wheels is what you need to get up to speed with traffic.

As it stands, you might hesitate before pulling out.  Or go too easy on the throttle to avoid the slipà powercut scenario.  Neither are ideal.

Back to the good and GREAT with the G80’s handling and performance!

Hooking up the back is pretty sure-thing in a straight line.  The G80 5.0 bounds off the line like a rocket. And on to a 4.7-second sprint to the 60-mph benchmark.

Deeply impressive power means this G80 V8 might be the quickest-ever Korean car.  A great sense of calm in its blast on full throttle is, indeed, more like most fullsize luxury limos (think 740i) than it is many midsize luxury sedans.

Balance around corners and well-judged suspension, too?  Oh yes.  The G80 rides calmly and softly – even with a hoon like me behind the wheel.

PRICING

There are two huge pieces of news to share about this G80 5.0’s pricing.  The first is that the V8 upgrade from the V6 is almost a no-brainer in its affordability.  You’re looking at around a $3k premium over a similarly-equipped V8 model.  Out the door with no options beyond the G80 V8 Ultimate’s standard spec, our test car barely crosses $55k.  This is stellar value.

The second note is a big part of the new Genesis standalone brand versus its roots with Hyundai.

The Genesis Experience, as they call it, basically sweetens the deal even more.  All Genesis models have their own salesfolk, boutique showroom areas and a VIP buying experience for 2016 and beyond.

A fairly VIP ownership experience, too!  3 years 36k miles is the timeframe during which virtually everything on your G80 will be free.  This includes pickup/dropoff for the car’s service appointments (so you never have to go in, essentially).  They come fetch the car and return when complete.

The other goodies that are gratis for three years?

GENESIS EXPERIENCE Perks

  • 3 years/36K miles Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance
  • 3 years/36K miles Complimentary Valet Services
  • 3 years Complimentary Genesis Connected Services including Connected Care, Remote, and Guidance
  • 3 years Complimentary SiriusXM® Travel Link (Traffic & Data) and Map Care
  • Best-in-Industry Warranty with Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Concierge Services

 

 

SUMMARY

There are few new cars as good as the G80 at the Genesis G80 5.0’s pricing level of $55k.  This is a fundamental truth that is inescapable and leads to immense satisfaction on the road.

It is not quite smugness, but in that region of the brain.

Where the G80 V8 really makes its case is not just versus its price rivals like the 340i, but in fact versus even the G80 V6!  Such a minor bump in price brings a huge leap in performance.  Little real-world downside in fuel economy, either.

And the best part of all, perhaps?  As Genesis spreads those wings on its badges over the next few years, those who try it now can feel like early-adopter geniuses whenever they pass a BMW, Audi or Mercedes driver.  Genesis as a brand is barely missing any curbside cache versus rivals from Acura or Lexus.  The biggest thing you will notice when nose to nose with the best Euro rivals – aka the best luxury limos in the world – is that your Genesis has an extra 30 grand of savings in the trunk.

About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine. He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank. Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.