BMW, Audi and Mercedes: better check your mirrors.
There’s a new brand breathing down your neck. Hyundai.
Yes, Hyundai (hey wasn’t that their ad campaign a while ago?)
In this case, it’s the Korean automaker’s luxury division, Genesis.
From the get-go, Genesis has taken serious aim at the luxury market, and while early cars where Hyundai Genesis models like the Coupe, it has slowly divested itself from the mothership, and become a stand-alone luxury brand.
Well.. sort of, they don’t have stand-alone dealerships yet, so the lavish love you get from The Europeans, Lexus, and others is sadly missing. That will come.
In the meantime, they’ll make up for it with some exceptionally fine automobiles, at exceptionally attractive pricing. We’ve tested both the G80 and G90 sedans recently, and walked away impressed with the entire experience. Now with the G80 Sport, Genesis is pointing its shiny grille directly at the Sport Luxury segment, and that means, the big boys from Bavaria. (And other parts of Germany).
Which in German means pretty, and the G80 Sport checks that box.
The G80 design has a very Germanic feel to it already, with pleasingly tight lines that are tasteful, but reserved.
For the Sport, they take it up a notch, with a sculpted sport front fascia, mesh grille with copper accents, dark exterior trim, LED lights with dark tint, sport side rocker moldings, and a rear diffuser.
Of course, nothing says, “athlete” like a proper set of kicks, so the G80 Sport rides on mesh design, 19-inch staggered-width rims, with massive sport brakes with “Genesis” emblazoned on the calipers to add some bling and give it some street cred.
Our tester’s lines were set off by a handsome Casablanca White. Parking next to a neighbor’s new Audi A6, we’d be hard pressed to say which one was better looking – or even its country of origin.
Putting the Leder in hosen.
Well, you’d expect leder, er leather-lined comfort on the G80’s interior, and of course it’s here. The first impression is a good one, the seats are superb – ultra-comfortable, with good shaping to hold you in place, but not too aggressive that you wouldn’t mind driving cross country in them.
In front of the driver is the traditional speedo and tach with TFT driver’s display in-between. There’s a massive 9.2-inch central touchscreen (no faux tablet here, thank goodness), with the expected rotary control flanked by pushbuttons on the center console. You’re not at the mercy of the touchscreen like many automakers – there are also a good number of buttons and switches, with logical layout, and good design that make it simple to operate what you want.
Carbon-fiber trim gives a sporty vibe, but the overall feeling is of quality materials, caringly put together. If you’re looking for groundbreaking design with a big wow factor to show up your Tesla-owning neighbor – it’s not here.
You probably won’t care, because you’re surrounded in luxury. Heads –up display, panoramic roof, heated and ventilated seats, high-definition touchscreen, memory system (remembers seats, steering wheel, mirrors and heads up display), and a 17-speaker Lexicon 7.1 discrete audio system (it even restores sound quality with digitally compressed music). All standard. Big wow.
Well, that’s the big question. And the big answer is…yes and no.
Under the hood is the 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 that’s found in the big brother G90, and the numbers are strong – 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque at an ultra-low 1,300 rpm. Teamed to an 8-speed automatic, the G80 Sport is a freight train – with massive, smooth power off the line. 0-60 should come in at under 5 seconds, and for a large heavy car with all-wheel-drive, that’s impressive.
It’s also even keel with the optional 420 hp, V8 engine offered on other G80 models. Doubly impressive. That said, the V6 is a little too gentlemanly for our tastes. While we don’t expect a raucous BMW M-series exhaust note, we’d like to hear that V6 sing a little more.
The previously mentioned weight and all-wheel drive give the G80 a real feeling of being grounded. It feels hunkered down to the road, and corners with a solid, no-fuss feeling. We love the heft to the steering, and instead of a lithe ballerina, the G feels like a linebacker with powerful, deliberate moves.
Like the engine, the ride leans more towards refinement, but it’s an excellent balance, and it’s a car that welcomes a vigorous drive as well as a quiet cruise. Maybe not quite up to the perfection we find in those higher-priced German models, but close. And you know, with every generation of Hyundai, Kia and Genesis products, they make impressive gains in every direction.
Here the G80 does not speak the language, and instead offers tremendous value.
Part of that Genesis value proposition is the all-included mindset – very un-German, and along with the standard goodness we mentioned above, the G80 Sport also includes 9 air bags, Blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, and heads-up display with speed limit reading technology.
Also, we should mention that the radar cruise control works beautifully, and even can come to a complete stop and start up again with traffic without input. Also, the lane assist does a great job of centering the car. We’re not at the fully autonomous driving car yet, but we’ll bet Genesis will be right up there at the front of the pack when it does come.
The best part – our tester came in at $58,725. Comparably equipped against the Autobahn-stormers — for a very significant $12-20,000 less.
And if you’re worried about showing up at the Hyundai dealer, while your friends are in the ultra-modern chrome and glass palaces that pass as luxury dealers today, for the first 3-years/36,000 miles, Genesis will perform a remote diagnostic check, pick up your vehicle, send a courtesy replacement, and return your vehicle when it’s ready.
And for those 3/36 you’ll also get complimentary scheduled maintenance, complimentary connected services, Sirius XM, enhanced roadside assistance and multimedia and navigation updates.
Well looked after indeed!
We think the G80 Sport is a fantastic value, a lovely car to look at and drive, and a chance to buy a series above what you might afford in a German marque.
Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, that Genesis in your mirror is a lot closer than you might imagine.
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.