2018 Genesis G80
Redesigned large sporty sedan
Smooth, comfortable, roomy, well-priced
Heavy as hell, Genesis brand has minimal cachet
Value for money
What would I change?
Put it on a diet
How I would spec it?
With the introduction of the Lexus LS 400 in 1989, Toyota proved that a Japanese car company could build a world-class luxury sedan. Almost 20 years later, Hyundai debuted its Genesis sedan and, given all the awards the car won, proved the same could be achieved by a South Korean automaker.
And following Lexus, which has become a respected member of the luxury community with a full line of models to compete with European and American brands, Hyundai has designs to grow the Genesis name, including an aggressive expansion of its model lineup. Having put its new G90 and G80 sedans on sale late last year, Genesis Motors Canada has just debuted the G70 sport sedan for the 2018 model year, and a line of upscale crossovers is also in the works.
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The other thing Genesis Motors Canada (GMC? Nope, that’s taken!) has done is overhauled the sales and pricing structure for its cars, announcing the industry’s first all-inclusive, transparent pricing. This approach includes delivery and destination charges, scheduled maintenance, satellite radio subscriptions and navigation map updates. The pricing model also incorporates “Genesis at Home” concierge-style service by which customers can request a representative and vehicle come to them for a test drive and conclude their purchase contract in the comfort of their home or office. This also includes owners having their vehicle picked up for service, left a courtesy vehicle, and returned when complete.
Yet, all this means next to nothing if the cars are not competitive. Fortunately, if going by the G80 is an indication, this most emphatically is not the case. The model in question is the new-for-2018 Sport, featuring a powerful new 3.3-litre turbocharged V6, as well as certain sport performance upgrades. Unique 19-inch wheels, genuine carbon-fibre interior trim, leather sport seats and a unique steering wheel are just some of the exclusive design features that set it apart from the other G80s.
The smooth-running, 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 is a nice in-between complement to the normally aspirated, 3.8L V6 with 311 horsepower, found in the G80 Luxury and Technology, and the G80 Ultimate’s 420-HP, 5.0L V8. The boosted V6 is paired with a sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission and feeds power to all four wheels courtesy of Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system.
If all that has a ring of familiarity to it, it’s because the Sport’s primary competition — think German, as in the Audi A6, BMW 540i xDrive and Mercedes E 400 4Matic — more or less follow the same formula. Now consider this: the $62,000 Sport is anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 less expensive than the Teutonic trio and puts out at least 25 more horsepower. Bookending the Germans are such rivals as the Lexus GS 350 AWD and the Jaguar XF S — the GS is less expensive but less powerful than the G80 Sport, and the XF is more expensive and more powerful.
Still, the aforementioned are well-established players in the mid-sized premium sedan segment — one could also throw cars from Volvo, Cadillac, Lincoln and Maserati into the mix — and the Genesis (as a brand, not a model) is an interloper. What else is the G80 Sport bringing to the fight?
Continuing on the performance theme, there’s an upgraded adaptive suspension system for improved driving dynamics and better body motion control, plus larger brakes — 14.2-inch ventilated discs and four-piston monoblock brake calipers up front, and 13-inch ventilated discs with single-piston floating brake calipers at the rear. And there’s the driver-selectable Intelligent Drive Mode that allows the choice of three distinct modes — Eco, Normal or Sport. Personally, I found Eco took too much out of the G80; Normal was acceptable for just noodling around town, with Sport the preferred mode for acceleration or tackling curvier stretches of road.
Although the sedan displays sufficient verve to live up to the Sport appellation, it would be even better if it were not so damn heavy. The Sport weighs a porky 2,120 kilograms – almost 300 kilograms more than the BMW 540i xDrive and some 250 kilos to the plus side of the Mercedes E 400 4Matic; its heftiness felt in every corner with every turn of the steering wheel. While the G80 Sport is a great long-distance cruiser, the car needs a more aluminum-intensive strategy if it wants to compete with the big boys as a proper sport sedan.
Yet, on the luxury side, the G80 takes a back seat to no car in its class. Speaking of which, legroom front and rear is generous — a full-sized family of four have plenty of stretch-out room within the confines of the 107-cubic-foot cabin (the EPA in the U.S. classifies the G80 as a “large” car). Amenities abound — all modern conveniences typical of the premium segment are in place — and the various buttons and controls are intuitively laid out.
The same applies to the centre stack touchscreen, though the graphics for the navigation system could be more detailed. The driver and front passenger sport seats are both heated and ventilated, supplemented with additional torso and thigh bolstering for long-distance comfort.
Safety is equally well covered — all 2018 G80s come standard with driver aids such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert and a multi-view camera system. All models also receive LED headlights with adaptive cornering, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
I’ve left the Sport’s looks to the last. Certainly the overall design of the sedan is handsome and well-proportioned. Yet there’s a certain generic “European-ness” to its shape — I see elements of Jaguar, Volvo and BMW within its profile and character lines. Not bad company, admittedly, but as the Genesis brand matures, I would like to see more distinct elements celebrating its Asian roots.
Notwithstanding the weight issue, the G80 Sport is a superior effort from Hyundai — and that’s without the aggressive all-included pricing and the added services. Will it be enough to pry Mercedes an BMW owners from their seats? Probably not, since the Genesis name still lacks cachet. Those looking to move up from more mainstream Asian and domestic brands, though, now have another name to add to their shopping list.
Type of vehicle
All-wheel-drive mid-sized sport sedan
Twin-turbo 3.3L DOHC V6
365 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 376 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,300 rpm
Four-wheel disc with ABS
P245/40R19 front, P275/35R19 rear
Price: Base / As Tested
Natural Resources Canada Fuel Economy
(L/100km) 3.8 city, 9.7 highway
Dual-zone automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, power windows and door locks, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, drive mode select, hands-free trunk opening, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated HomeLink and compass, rear-view camera, multi-function trip computer, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, sport-type 16-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with side bolster and thigh support adjustments, four-way lumbar adjustment, 12-way power-adjustable passenger’s seat with four-way lumbar adjustment, head-up display, driver’s integrated memory system for seat, mirror, steering wheel, and head-up display positions, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, rear side window sun shades, front and rear parking assistance sensors, power trunk lid, wireless charging pad, multi-view camera, seven-inch TFT LCD instrument panel display, LED headlights with adaptive cornering system, high-beam assist and more