2021 Genesis G80 3.5T Prestige
About 10 years ago, Germans had clear market domination when it comes to luxury sedans. Mercedes, BMW and Audi, with their luxury mid-size sedans (before the explosion of the SUVs) were associated mostly with prestige and luxury. And Lexus’s presence was largely limited to North America. However, things are not that easy for Germans anymore, as Koreans have been very ambitious about the premium segment in the last decade or so. Genesis, the luxury brand of the Hyundai-KIA group, released the all-new G80 this year.
It is not easy to compete with other brands that have several decades of experience. However, Genesis has come a very long way from being a more affordable alternative to German and also Japanese premium brands to an actual competitor. Though Hyundai had high-end Genesis models in the past, Genesis Motor officially founded in November 2015 as a separate brand and as of 2021, they have three luxury sedans, and two new SUVs in their model lineup. Let’s see how 2021 Genesis G80 performs in the luxury sedan segment.
As we have the second generation of the G80 on the market, it may be too early to talk about a settled design language like German competitors, but the G80 looks mature and beautiful from every angle. Genesis’s midsize sedan comes with a huge chrome grille in the front with integrated radar-backed cruise control. It has two separate headlights on each side, making it look very upscale and elegant. Compared to the first-generation G80, the current model is definitely a step up with a much more modern yet premium appearance.
Like the front end, the rear design looks very upscale, but with more conservative lines. Like the front headlights, it has a two-piece design and one big chrome piece on the top, and the Genesis badge makes it look more premium. Due to its sloping roofline and C-pillar design, it looks more like a liftback-coupe, but somehow it does not affect the overall headroom in the rear.
Speaking of the interior, this is where it gets even more impressive. From the outside, Genesis looks unique and premium, but when you get inside the G80, Genesis spared no expense for quality and refinement. Everywhere you touch and see is leather, real wood, or very soft-touch plastic. I personally loved the gray, brown and real wood combination and I think this is one of the most unique interior designs in the last few years.
Rear seats are even more comfortable than the front, even though they don’t come with a massage seat option. G80 is actually 5 seater, but it comes with a center armrest that you can control heated seats in the rear and the shader. Side shaders can be adjusted manually and I think this should have been power-controlled for a more premium feeling. Even if you are a very tall adult, there are tons of legroom and headroom in the rear seats.
As it comes with luxurious rear seats, they cannot be folded and that means you get less overall cargo space with the G80. It comes with 13.1 cubic feet (371 lt) of cargo space and as you can’t fold down the rear seats, that’s all you get. If we compare this size with the German entries, it is right at the average in this segment.
Engine and Drivetrain
2021 Genesis G80 comes with two different engine options. The base engine is a 2.5 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder powerplant that produces 300 horsepower. If you are looking for more performance out of your luxurious G80, you can get a twin-turbo 3.5 litre V6 with 375 horsepower as our tester had under its hood. On the paper, both options are fast enough for a premium luxury sedan, even the base trim’s 2.5-litre engine can do 0-100 in less than 6 seconds.
Both engines are used in other Hyundai and KIA models. 2.5 turbo engine is a newer platform that is also used in KIA Sorento and Hyundai Sonata N-Line. Our tester, which has the 3.5-litre V6 engine, is an older platform that is used in many other models in the past, and it is a proven drivetrain that is a great match for a luxury sedan. It may not be the most fuel-efficient in this segment, but it is significantly improved and fine-tuned over the years.
Both engines are matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission that is made in-house by Hyundai. It may not be the fastest, but pretty solid transmission and a great option for the G80. There is no shifter column, but it comes with paddle shifters that you can choose your gear manually if you need, however it auto upshifts if you hit the rev limiter. In Canada, AWD is available in every trim and it is a rear-wheel biased AWD system, meaning that it always sends power to the rear, and adds more power to the front wheels if needed.
Driving Impressions and Features
This week, we also have had a chance to review the latest BMW 5 series, so it was a great opportunity to test two different vehicles in the same segment. As soon as I start driving the 2021 Genesis G80, it reminded me of the Mercedes Benz of the 2000 era, it offers a great level of comfort and interior quality. BMW offered a lot of sportier driving with much less body roll with its M suspension, but this one is a totally different world.
Driving the 2021 Genesis G80 on a daily basis is a great experience. The car is completely focused on isolating the passengers from road imperfections. Though the engine is very torquey, thanks to the twin turbos, it likes to be calm like a highway cruiser, rather than a sports car even though it has a lot of power. Suspension tuning is also solely focused on-road comfort, though it is not as good in terms of handling compared to the German entries, it has a lot of aluminum suspension parts underneath instead of steel, to keep the ride smoother and offer more luxurious driving experience on the road.
There is some room for improvement in terms of driving refinement though. Granted, our tester came with winter tires and it was 20C degrees outside, so we experienced more road noise than usual. It was not a big difference though, but definitely noticeable when you drive the 2021 Genesis G80 and BMW 540i back to back. The gap would have been much closer if Genesis had all-season tires.
One thing that I realized after driving this engine and transmission combination is that Genesis has put a lot of effort to reduce fuel consumption, which was a problem with the earlier KIA Stinger models with the twin-turbo V6 engines. Our average consumption was around 12.0L per 100 km, which is perfectly acceptable for a heavy AWD luxury sedan. Twin-turbo V6 is not a screamer or best-sounding V6 by any means, but it has a very strong mid-range torque that goes all the way up to the redline.
2021 Genesis G80 has a lot of tech features, such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Highway Assist, or Digital Cluster with Blind View Monitor, like most another top tier Hyundai, KIA and other Genesis models. Unsurprisingly they work perfectly and I believe those are some of the strongest selling points of any Genesis, Hyundai or KIA vehicles. However, there are few missed opportunities with the G80, in terms of luxurious features, such as wireless CarPlay, electric headrests for the front seats, automated rear shades, no cooled seats in the back and so on. They are not deal breakers, but good-to-have to compete in the luxury segment.
Pricing and the Verdict
The luxury sedan segment is not the easiest front to fight with the Germans. They have the tradition and brand recognition of several decades. Although Hyundai had an older Genesis model lineup in the last decade, Genesis is technically a new brand founded in 2016, and here you have World War III in the Automotive world. Though it is a great luxury sedan, the 2021 Genesis G80 falls behind in terms of brand recognition and in this type of segment that buyers are looking for prestige more than anything else.
2021 Genesis G80 is a great luxury sedan if you need one, and you really don’t need German entries if you want a better value proposition. It may not be as prestigious as the German entries in terms of brand recognition, but eventually, it will get there. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good luxury car, in fact, it is almost as good, if not better than German or premium Japanese competition that has been on the market for several decades. It is mind-blowing to see how Hyundai has come along with the Genesis brand in the luxury segment in less than 10 years, and other premium manufacturers from Germany or Japan should really be worried about it.
The G80 starts at $66,000 CAD with the base trim, and if you want the powerful V6 engine, the price goes up to $76,000 CAD. $10,000 CAD is a lot to swallow if it was just a more powerful engine, but it doesn’t end there. 3.5 turbo V6 engine comes with a higher trim package called Prestige, our tester, that comes with Electronic suspension, 20″ rims, bigger infotainment system, Nappa leather, leather-wrapped center console, better seats, soft closing doors, and extra safety features such as Smart Parking Assist and Forward Attention Warning and I think it’s definitely worth upgrading it.
For more details, please visit www.genesis.com
Article – Dan Gunay
Photos – Burak McKars