With all the buzz surrounding the Genesis G90 flagship sedan, as well as the recent news the brand made during its appearance at the New York Auto Show. It can be easy to forget about Genesis's other sedan offering, the G80.
Originally starting its run as the Hyundai Genesis, the launch of the new brand forced the luxury laden Hyundai to transform into the newly renamed G80, and up its luxury and performance credentials at the same time.
But can the G80 still stand out from not only the bigger G90 sedan? but also a field of opulent entries? or has time run out for the G80's interpretation of luxury and sport in an ever growing luxury car segment?
The exterior styling of our Polar Ice test car may look familiar to many Hyundai buyers since it was once known as the 2015 Hyundai Genesis prior to the launch of Genesis as a standalone brand. This is not bad news necessarily, with our tester retaining a high level of flair and subtle aggression in its flanks. The front fascia has sharply honed headlights, and the Sport features tastefully applied copper details that are placed along the black chrome edge of the cross hatched grille, the center wheel caps, and other places throughout the exterior. The rear fascia is devoid of copper, but one cannot argue with how slick the rear taillights look, as well as the German-esque look of the creases and curves back there. Neat quad exhausts round out the package, and produce a decent soundtrack outside.
It's just a shame that the copper theme does not permeate quite as much into the interior. Granted there is some copper stitching on the steering wheel and seats, but it's a shame that Genesis designers didn't really embrace the theme and have fun with it. Especially with the splashes of carbon fiber trim that are present throughout the car. Imagine how cool it would have been if the weave was infused with copper accents, which in turn would've have caused the cabin to visually pop with color in a decidedly classy way.
That minor aesthetic quirk aside, the rest of the interior is crisply detailed, and looks quite elegant for its price point. Material quality is on par with the rest of the segment, though like in the G90, there are spots where cheap looking Hyundai switch gear can still be seen. The cabin is very roomy, and occupants have plenty of room to stretch out and relax. The seats in our tester were very comfortable, and the leather that adorns them is very high quality, and felt comfortable especially on long drives. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included at no extra cost, and allow the G80 to resonate with tech savvy millennials looking for maximum connectivity in their vehicle purchase. Rear passengers also have good amounts of leg room, though headroom can be a bit tight for taller occupants. The no frills theme here may not please buyers that are accustomed to the levels of posh and flair that the Germans wield in their entries, but for those that prefer value over elaborate gimmickry, they will be delighted with what they see once they are nestled inside the cabin
Performance for our tester comes from the same 3.3 liter twin-turbocharged V6 that also sees duty in the bigger G90. Here, it produces a solid 365 horsepower, and an equally impressive 373 lb-ft of torque when fed with premium fuel. The addition of the twin-turbochargers helps breathe new life into the driving experience, with a sea of readily available torque from a low 1300 rpm to about 4500 rpm. Mash the pedal to the floor, and the G80 Sport accelerates as if it were a much sportier offering which helped it excel in highway driving and freeway lane change maneuvers. Unfortunately once you look past the G80's abundant levels of thrust, it's clear that the Sport suffers from an apparent identity crisis. The electrically assisted steering is too numb, and not enough road feel reaches the drivers hands. The cabin also isolates the driver from the bulk of the dynamic experience, with the lone exception being some of the exhaust note that does permeate the otherwise quiet cocoon of leather carbon fiber and opulence.
The G80 is also a portly car, with Genesis claiming that the rear wheel drive version weighs in at 4,519 lbs with AWD versions adding 155 lbs more to that total. This is more flab then some of its competitors, and it makes itself known when making the G80 dance in corners. This is a car that does not like to be rushed, and will remind the driver of this fact with copious amounts of body roll, and equal amounts of tire noise.
Pricing for the 2018 Genesis G80 3.3T Sport starts at $55,250 with our loaded tester ringing in at a final price of $56,225. Unlike other luxury cars we have tested, the G80 had no options, and that helps it excel at being a strong value. Like the G90 flagship sedan, the G80 undercuts the bulk of its rivals. For instance, it is roughly $16,000 less than a comparable Audi A6 3.0T while it is a whopping $35,000 less expensive than the $91,175 Mercedes-AMG E43 4MATIC. Granted, both of these entries have more prestige than the G80 and some of its other rivals. But looked side by side, the G80's value per dollar edge becomes glaringly obvious.
As it sits, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport is a cleverly disguised stopgap. It's a performance variant of a car that used to be a Hyundai versus being a creation of Genesis's ongoing efforts at formally building its image. We look forward to seeing more though, especially if the next generation G80 Sport finally embraces more of the sporty characteristics that can mesh with its strategically keen pricing.