Heads up: you need to be on the lookout for 5-0.
In this case, it’s not Steve McGarrett and his task force careening around on Oahu.
It’s a luxury sedan from Hyundai’s newly-minted Genesis division, and in this case, it’s looking to take on the existing marks including the highly-prized BMW 5-series. And you know what? We might opt for the G. It’s that good.
First, some housekeeping. The name Genesis has been around for a bit. In 2009, we had the first Hyundai Genesis sedan, and then it was freshened up for 2015. For 2017, though, the Hyundai has been dropped, and the vehicle is simply Genesis. Ok, they’re not really fooling anyone, because you still will be buying your G80 at your friendly Hyundai dealer. For now.
Hyundai is methodical and smart, and you can bet that upscale and delightful Genesis dealers will begin sprouting up to cater to fancier clientele. And if you don’t like the idea of rubbing elbows with Accent and Elantra buyers, Genesis will come and get your car for service and bring it back to you when done. Included in the price.
And if the quality of the Genesis (and Hyundai) models we’ve seen lately is any indication, your G won’t be spending much time at the dealer anyway.
You’ll want to be spending a lot of time in the G80, though.
On the outside, this baby is a tasteful stunner. Handsome and reserved, it looks big, powerful, and refined. Our tester looked quite luxe in its Parisian Gray exterior, and the 19” alloys fill out the wheelwells, giving a purposeful look. We especially liked the tasteful winged Genesis badge and simple G80 badge on the tailgate. Bling is held to a minimum.
As nice as the exterior is, it should in no way slow you down from getting inside. As soon as you plant yourself, you get one of those “wow” moments. Everything just hits you with exceptional quality, design, and comfort. On our appropriately-named Ultimate model, the perforated, premium leather 16-way driver’s seat holds you with support and comfort that would make BMW’s best sport seats jealous. There’s a tasteful sweep of the dash, and you just feel cossetted, comforted, and special.
The matte finish on the real wood and aluminum trim is beautiful and tasteful, and there’s a nice balance of large touchscreen – in the case, a class-leading 9.2-inch 720p HD, and real switches on the info-tainment and climate control to make any control freak happy – in any way they particularly like to freak. If that’s not enough, you’ve also got a 7-inch LCD screen in front of the driver, and a color head’s-up display as well. And all aboard will enjoy the 17-speaker Lexicon audio system – it sounds phenomenal.
And don’t feel bad about those in back seat, with best-in-class interior room, the rear seat feels limo-spacious.
We wonder how many G80’s are sold without even a test drive. It’s that good.
But you’d be missing out – especially if you don’t drive the 5.0.
While the G80 is offered with a 3.8-liter 311-hp V6, we feel it’s the 5.0-liter V8 that really suits this beast. Whipping up a creamy 420 horsepower, and hooked to a smooth 8-speed automatic, it moves out with authority and confidence. Frankly, the Hyundai-based V8 has always been a strong performer so no surprise here.
The concern with Hyundai and Genesis has always been indifferent chassis tuning. The ride was ok, the handling somewhat uninspiring and steering feel lagged the competition.
One good thing about Hyundai (and Kia) is they aren’t afraid to hire great talent to meet their needs. In this case, Lotus Engineering was used to develop the rear wheel drive 3.8 model, but the good feelings continue in the V8. The ride is supple and controlled, the steering feel precise and it feels great to push hard in the turns. It’s a driver’s car in no uncertain terms.
It’s also a very safe car. Like Hyundai, Genesis has made great efforts to be on the leading edge of protective technologies. You’ll find Lane Keep Assist, smart cruise control, blind spot warning and Auto Emergency Braking that’s one of the best we’ve sampled. We like that it doesn’t feel like it wants to take over driving for you, it’s just a thoughtful partner that’s there to save your bacon when it gets too close to the fire.
So how much for all this goodness? Well your rear wheel drive 3.8 model starts at $41,400. For that you get that full suite of safety tech, leather, navigation, etc…a very well equipped machine. Add $2,500 for All wheel drive. The Premium model give you niceties like a premium perforated leather, heated and cooled front seats, panoramic sunroof and 14-speaker Lexicon sound system. Yours for $46,150.
The Ultimate package gets you the super nice 9.2-inch color display, full color HUD display, premium leather, and smart cruise control with stop/start that’s especially nice in heavy traffic. $50,380 for the 3.8 V6.
If you want the lush performance of the V8, it only comes in the G80 Ultimate 5.0 with rear wheel drive. $54,550. And befitting its ultimate status, no options are offered. While that seems like a fair chunk of change, we recently drove a BMW 5-series that started at over $51,000 – for a 4-cylinder model. Load that little 2.0-liter 4 with comparable options, and you’d be sure to eclipse the G80. At those prices, the beautiful, powerful V8 G80 starts to look like a bargain.
The Genesis G80 is at an interesting place in history. Without the full-on established premium network of dealers, it may lack cache, especially compared with brands like BMW and Audi. Hence, the pricing that is probably too low for what you get – but don’t tell anybody! Soon enough, the cat will be out of the bag, and prices will go up as popularity and snob appeal escalates.
And for the premium sedan enthusiast who wants something special and affordable, that would be a crime. So in the words of 5-0, book ‘em Danno!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.