2018 Genesis G80 Sport AWD – HD Road Test Review

Imagine you really love a new luxury sedan for its stellar platform, proportions and sporting potential.   This car is genuinely large versus its mid-size rivals in the $40k-60k segment.

But you have specific high-performance needs for every inch of the vehicle.

Your rocket-limo must be blacked-out and badass from all angles.

Especially the driver’s seat.

Genesis G80 is that luxury car, and the G80 Sport is the performance special of our dreams.

This machine is a thorough answer to a wishlist we had for more power and glamour from Genesis.

G80 Sport proved its awesomeness in a week of THRUSTING cleanly through traffic with FU power and FU style.

We have a few (quite watchable!) videos of our time with the G80 Sport to share here in the full review.  Exterior, Interior, Performance and Pricing will be our structure here.



G80 Sport’s exterior makeover is so thorough you’d swear its an all-new design.  The dark black chrome for the grille and all brightwork on the other models starts things off with a sinister streak.  Same shape for the shield grille, but new finish and internal mesh makes it seem all-new.

It is a theme that appears thoughout – a whole new car, for all intents and purposes.

The lower front bumper is the only piece of truly new bodywork.  This has macho lower intakes and a much deeper chin splitter flowing out from the bottom of the shield grille.  Functional intake vents shoot cool air to the brakes via channels in the outer bumper edges, while the visibly giant intercooler in the lower center intake is menacing.

The headlights match the theme: new but familiar.  Same LED DRLs in ultra-bright white but that twisted, 3D line of light now flips to amber LEDs for the turn signals.

Yet inside the lamps we have quad LED projector beams for the first time.  Squared copper sheaths for the projectors and dark internal lamp optics are dark enough to match the blackest heart.

Moving into profile, G80 Sport trades bright door handle and lower sills for a smokey, dark finish to match the windowsills and grilles.  New BBS-style 20-spoke alloys are a gorgeous dark anthracite silver.  Copper G-branded caps lock on like… centerlock race wheels.  These are 19s and sport the wider, 275-width footprint of the G80 5.0 V8 for the first time on a V6.  If there is one gripe, it’s that these wheels – from some angles – look slightly too small for the large body above them.

In back, darkened taillights and gloss black quad pipes are just the right amount of AMG- or RS- aggressive.

In all, the G80 Sport design is the perfect flipside to the traditional, conservative looks of the other G80s.

We give the G80 Sport a solid A grade for its exterior appeal.  Its proportions are still rockstar sexy and these new details make the $55k look like $85k on the road.



Our wishlist for a gangster version of the G80 – and every car, to be honest – extends inside the cabin as well.  Sport seats, real carbon fiber instead of glossy fake woods, and as much dark suede as you can get your hands on.

G80 Sport is like a factory boutique tune in this way.  Cabin is largely the same, aside from sportier seats and an all-new, thicker sport steering wheel.  The changes inside are almost as effective as outside.  The holistic application of the copper accenting is a smart, premium touch.  Copper stitching for the steering wheel, the central analog clockface and even gauge details reinforce G80 Sport’s dark new mission.

As before, the G80 Sport inside feels stellar when parked and even better on the move.  It is silent, ultra-rigid and ultra-strong in assembly feel.  Its seriously wide center console matches the wide, roomy seating in all four corners.  This is a giant machine versus the 3 series or C-Class it is priced against.

G80 Sport’s moody cabin only needs a slightly darker factory tint for the windows to create true VVIP feeling.  Like you’re a startlet hiding from the ‘papps in your black Rolls.  That is how G80 Sport can make its drivers feel.

There are a few places where G80 Sport – and its G80 siblings – is starting to feel a bit 2015 inside.  The promiximity door handles, for example, need to be tapped on a button outside the handles to unlock.  Even Toyotas these days unlock when pulling on underside of the handle.

While griping, the nav map graphics look dated and some functions from the mid-cluster menu are tedious to operate.

Genesis’s light-up puddle LEDs and power-extending mirrors as you approach are still pretty sweet, mind you.

Cabin luxuries wishlist?  Lord knows Genesis is listening!

  • Soft-close doors that will never need a second thunk to compress those quad rubber seals
  • Remote starting and/or keyfob actuated windows and moonroof. Remote start as standard would certainly set Genesis apart from the Germans and Japanese – who for emissions reasons rarely fit remote starters from the factory.  But we Americans like them quite a bit.
  • Slightly harder-wearing leathers. G80 Sport leather is the softest we’ve felt from Genesis.  But like a few other test cars, the driver seat has looked a bit too ragged for a 10,000-mile car.  Granted, these press loans have hard lives.  But still.





Here we are ladies and gentlemen!  The key section.

Does Genesis’s first turbo engine put out?

365HP is the quote and G80 Sport can now do 4.8s seconds to 60-mph – as fast or faster than the V8 model.  Great news first: the power figures feel, if anything, conservative.  HUGE torque and RACY rush up the tachometer to redline.

G80 Sport’s 3.3-liter turbo pairs with a newly sportified 8-speed automatic.  While not ZF-level genius, the automatic is a smart partner to the engine.  This is a machine that can kickdown and pass like a BOSS.

G80 Sport runs that wider rubber, bigger brakes, heavier/faster steering and variable suspension dampers to round out its sporting skillset.

It really works.  Previous 10/10ths driving exposed a bit of float on other Genii.

Banished here.  G80 Sport is tied down tight to the pavement and never loses focus.  There is no trace of big-car boat float in here.  Yet G80 Sport seems to ride, if anything, a bit comfier than we recall from other Genesis-es.

G80 has long been fun to manhandle and drive harder than its owners ever will.  But this G80 Sport really feels like it goads you further, faster and to go deeper than before.  It is satisfying and exciting to drive fast, even if it is not exactly “fun.”

Actually, scratch that.  G80 Sport is definitely good fun.  This AWD example has that unshakeable, symmetrical split feel.  You never, ever notice a change in steering feel when power heads to the front wheels.  Corners are just demolished with such ease that it’s deceptively normal at supra-legal speeds.

The only places it seems like G80 Sport could really improve is its launch drama and exhaust note.  Like many AWDs and many turbos, there is no wheelspin and nearly no exhaust note.

A remote-operated sport exhaust would be the ideal way to keep it Rolls-Royce silent at highway speeds, yet shouty when you want to show off.

Inside, you hear some good stuff though.  Seriously sophisticated RUSHes of air make clear the turbos are red hot.  But even at full chat inside, the G80 5.0 V8 sounds far better.

G80 Sport’s exhaust note from outside is between two recent turbo lux motors.  It is louder than Infiniti’s Red Sport 400 from outside the car, but quieter than the BMW M550i.  All three are ridiculously quiet versus any atmospheric V8.

Launch control might also be nice from Genesis in the future.



G80 Sport has everything standard – with five sexy new colors and AWD or RWD the only choices.

It stickers at about $56k for the AWD version.  This is a match for the G80 5.0 V8.   So this V6TT better be great.

Rest assured, it is.  We’d choose the G80 Sport over G80 V8.



Yes, the cracking the luxury market is a marathon.

But it is also a sprint.

There are fat profits to be had, eventually.  For now, G80 Sport is such great value that you wonder if there’s any margin in it at all for parent company Hyundai.

Genesis is far away from having to apologize to its luxury rivals – for anything.

G80 Sport is the brand’s first globe-topping product.  A car for those who always dreamed of an M5 or E63 or GT-R.  Or 911 Turbo.  Or Bentley anything.

Those cars are stellar, of course, but nowhere near the huge milestone achievement the G80 Sport is for Genesis.  And for you – as the best car you’ve ever driven or even seen up close.