2021 Genesis G80 review
Our independent 2020 Genesis G80 review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.
When you start a new business it’s important to do the basics well. So, for example, if you open a bakery you need to get proficient at baking a good chocolate cake if you’re going to win over customers and have them coming back for your more creative and expensive goods. A chocolate cake may not be the most exciting thing on the menu, but it’s a staple and a good measuring stick for your new clientele.
The same is true of luxury car companies, in order to truly establish a new brand in a market dominated by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi you must do the basics well. And the ‘basics’ is an executive sedan. Because even though they may not be the most popular vehicles on the market today, it’s a staple and a good way for new or potential customers to understand what a new brand stands for and what it can produce.
Enter our automotive chocolate cake – the new-generation Genesis G80.
Genesis may not be brand new, and the G80 has been on sale in one form or other since 2014 (when it launched as the Hyundai Genesis before changing its name), but the arrival of this second-generation model – as well as the arrival of the all-new GV80 SUV – marks a new beginning.
The arrival of the new G80 and GV80 (to be followed by the smaller GV70 SUV in 2021) sends a message that management in both South Korea and Australia is serious about taking a significant share of the local luxury market.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
This is a simple question to answer, because unlike most other cars that offer a recommended retail price but allow dealers to negotiate whatever transaction price they’re comfortable with, Genesis Australia is taking a strict no-haggle policy.
The company believes that most customers don’t actually enjoy haggling for a better deal, or are unhappy when they later find out they’ve overpaid. So, what Genesis says is (reportedly) the only price you’ll ever pay.
For the G80 2.5T that means $84,900 and the 3.5T AWD the ask is $99,900 – plus on-road costs. Then to continue the ‘keep-it-simple’ theme there are only two optional extras – the Luxury Package (which we’ll go into more detail later) for $10,000 and matte paint for $2000. That’s it, there’s nothing else to factor in.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO OWN?
In theory, nothing. At least for the first five years of ownership.
That’s because in a bid to lure people from their Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus, Genesis is offering a comprehensive and complimentary suite of ownership benefits. Dubbed ‘The Genesis Experience’ it includes five-years of free servicing and roadside assistance.
What’s more, the Genesis-To-You service comes and collects your car from your home or office, leaves a loan vehicle and then returns your G80 when it’s ready from the service department – in theory, you never even need to set foot in the dealership once you’ve decided to buy.
WHAT’S THE EXTERIOR LIKE?
The new G80 features the brand’s latest design concept – Athletic Elegance – which incorporates a number of unique Genesis touches while still creating a classical luxury shape.
At the front there’s the huge crest grille and quad headlights (four thin LEDs instead of a traditional larger lighting set-up) that the brand is hoping becomes a signature look.
Down the side the long dashboard to front wheelbase heaps to feed into the luxury look, in keeping with what you might expect to find on the top-end Mercedes, BMWs and even ultra-luxury models like a Bentley Flying Spur.
Genesis also makes a big deal over what it calls the “parabolic line” that runs the length of the side and tapers at the rear to create a “dynamic side profile”
At the back you’ll find a repeat of the quad lights from the front, as well as crest-shaped exhaust tips. Genesis lettering replaces the rear badge and sits proudly on the back of the sloping rear deck lid.
The standard 19-inch alloys wheels are a busy design (and look a touch old fashioned in this reviewer’s eye) but the optional 20-inch rims are a simpler, sportier five-spoke design.
WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?
Inspired by Korean architecture and a suspension bridge, the cabin is centred around a horizontal dash layout that spans the entire width, from door-to-door.
There’s plenty of technology with a 12.3-inch digital dashboard and a 14.5-inch infotainment, the latter is controlled via an integrated multimedia controller that features both a dial and a handwriting interface pad in the centre.
In a bid to add to the luxury theme the gear selector is a tempered glass rotary shifter that sits just behind the multimedia controller.
There’s standard genuine leather that speaks to its luxury ambitions, as well as the option of a premium Napa leather finish in the Luxury Package. There are four colour options for the leather – black, beige, brown and blue – as well as two genuine wood inlay trims – Eucalyptus and Olive Ash.
So, in theory at least, it ticks all the boxes you expect from a luxury car – technology, premium trims and comfort and space. As for how it all comes together, that’s less clear cut. It feels very much like a traditional luxury car, rather than something progressive and as we move into a world of electric vehicles with radically different cabin designs it feels like Genesis missed an opportunity to separate itself from the established competition.
As for the Luxury Package it brings a host of extras including (but not limited to) tri-zone climate control, a 3D function for the instrument cluster, power adjustable rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel and twin 9.2-inch touchscreens for rear seat entertainment.
HOW SAFE IS THE GENESIS G80?
Unsurprisingly given its position as a premium model, the G80 is loaded with a comprehensive safety suite that includes both passive and active features. For starters there are 10 airbags, including a centre occupant ‘bag to avoid head clashes which is now required to earn a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
As for the active safety items there’s all the usual acronyms including Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Multi Collision Brake (MCB) and Blind-sport Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA).
There are also some less common features, such as the Safe Exit Assist and Rear Occupant Alert which are already available on some Hyundai models. The former uses the sensors to detect if it’s safe to open the door when parked, in case there is an on-coming car or cyclist, while the later can alert the driver if someone has been left inside the cabin.
Another clever feature is the pre-active safe seat that will automatically adjust the passenger seat to the upright position if the occupant is reclined and the car detects a possible collision.
However, you do need to add the Luxury Package if you want the Forward Attention Warning (FAW) and Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist – Reverse (PCA-R) to complete the safety set.
FAW uses sensors fitted in the dashboard to measure how many times the driver looks away, yawns or generally lacks attention to the road ahead and can sound an alert if required.
Another cool addition from the Luxury Package is what Genesis calls ‘Remote Smart Parking Assist’ which, quite literally, turns the G80 into a remote control car. You can remotely start the engine and then drive it either forwards or in reverse via buttons on the key fob. So if you want to pre-cool the car on a hot summer’s day or squeeze in and out of a tight spot the G80 can do it.
Thankfully both FCW and PCA-R work in combination with the system so the car can automatically hit its own brakes if it detects an obstacle in its way.
WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE?
The sound system is a 21-speaker 1050W Lexicon by Harman as standard, providing plenty of performance and clarity as befitting the price and positioning of the G80. It incorporates Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and digital radio.
The combination rotary dial/touchpad controller for the infotainment system does take some getting used to though, even for those of us who are familiar with a variety of cars. It works similar to BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI touchpad but because it’s flat (rather than a raised dial) it has some unique functionality quirks.
A wireless smartphone charging pad is also standard.
WHAT IS THE STORAGE LIKE?
The G80 is a roomy sedan, which it needs to be to compete against the likes of the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series and Audi A6. There’s good room up front and in the back there’s plenty of headroom and kneeroom.
The boot is 424-litres in both models, offering up reasonable space for a car of this size.
WHAT ENGINES ARE AVAILABLE?
Genesis is offering two engine options – at least initially – with the new G80 replacing the out-going models 3.8-litre V6.
First up is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol that makes 224kW of power and 422Nm of torque. It sends that performance to the road via an eight-speed automatic transmission and the rear-wheels.
For those who want more power there’s the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol, making 279kW and 530Nm. It’s paired to the same in-house eight-speed auto gearbox but uses an all-wheel drive system for superior traction.
The 2.5T performs much how you’d expect of a four-cylinder engine in a large sedan. While relatively small in capacity it does a solid if unspectacular job, although it doesn’t feel especially sporty or potent at any stage. Make no mistake though, with 422Nm, it never feels weak either and is more than adequate for those who just want a quiet and dependable ride.
The 3.5T obviously brings more punch though and feels bordering on sporty at times, especially when you dial up the sports mode in the drive select system. It makes a purposeful V6 growl under hard acceleration but can equally be quiet and unobtrusive around town.
WHAT ABOUT FUEL ECONOMY?
The 2.5T has the obvious advantage in this department, but neither are what you’d call fuel-misers. The smaller unit uses 8.6-litres per 100km compared to 10.7L/100km for the 3.5T.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The new G80 sits on top of a new platform, which is shared with the GV80 as well, and it does feel a step ahead of the model it replaces. It feels tauter and more dynamic but also more comfortable and refined than the previous G80.
Our test drive took us through urban and suburban Canberra before heading out into the challenging roads around Cotter Dam which put all aspects of the G80 to the test.
Around town and the ‘burbs it feels quiet, softly sprung and easy to live with, which are all positives for a luxury sedan. Once on the open roads we dialled up the sports mode and put the G80 through its paces, pushing it closer to its dynamic limits.
Even in its sportiest settings it never feels like a sports sedan – because it isn’t one or even trying to be in its defence – with noticeable body roll when cornering hard. But the 3.5T does punch out of corners strongly and feels like it would be ideal for soaking up long country kilometres.
One function worth noting is what Genesis calls Augmented Reality navigation. It uses the 14.5-inch infotainment screen and the car’s front parking camera to display in real-time an image of what’s ahead of the car and then lay the turn-by-turn navigation over the top.
It’s a clever system and it does make it hard to miss a turn, because you can see precisely where the system wants you to go. However, it’s probably not for everyone, because as this reviewer found having the real-time image in your peripheral vision made me mildly car sick.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
The luxury sedan segment may have been overtaken by SUVs, but as we mentioned at the start, no serious car company can afford to miss it – this is one of the basic, must-do markets. So there is no shortage of competition for the G80.
Mercedes has the E-Class, BMW the 5-Series and Audi the A6 to cover the big German trio. But then you have the Lexus ES, Jaguar XF and Volvo S60, which are the models Genesis needs to target first before it goes after the big names.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Genesis has baked a good chocolate cake – the G80 is a solid and largely impressive luxury executive sedan. However, it lacks some sprinkles or something special to really make it stand apart from the competition, at least in the way the car drives.
Instead, the best hope for Genesis is the way it plans to sell and look after its owners. The idea of having the car brought to you for a test drive and then picked up for servicing (which doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket) could be just what the brand needs to convince customers to take a chance on something new and different.
2021 Genesis G80 specs and price
Price From $84,900 plus ORCs Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 2.5L turbo petrol; 3.5L twin-turbo V6 petrol Power 224kW at 5800rpm; 279kW at 5800rpm Torque 422Nm at 1650-4000rpm; 530Nm at 1300-4500rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive rear-wheel-drive (2.5L); all-wheel drive (3.5L) Body 4995mm (l); 1925mm (w); 1465mm (h) Kerb weight 1869kg; 2023kg Seats 5 Fuel Use 8.6L/100km; 10.7L/100km Fuel tank 65L/73L Spare Temporary