Delivers a Bentley-esque driving experience
The genesis of Genesis was not as a brand, but as Hyundai’s first attempt at going upmarket with 2009’s Hyundai Genesis. Well Now, Genesis is of course a complete brand, with multiple sedans and suvs to choose from, and plenty of evs on the way. But, they haven’t forgotten where they started from.
Before it was known as the Genesis G80, the Hyundai Genesis sedan was the Korean carmaker’s first attempt at going full luxury. 2021 brings a new generation of G80, as they, like most brands, prepare to transition away from fossil fuels in the near future; yet also have the challenge of trying to fully establish what is still a sophomore brand when it comes to the luxury market.
While we can all appreciate a good value when it comes to major purchases, not a lot of buyers in this segment want to drive around in something that looks like a bargain.
Here, the mid-size G80 mostly succeeds with an elegant new shape; highlighted by a minimized parallel quad-lighting theme, exaggerated fenders, and a coupe-like cabin pushed severely rearward, though the gigantic familial silver grille is one of our least favorite visual cues.
Inside, is truly a showcase of what Hyundai is capable of. Materials, switchgear, displays; all exude great quality.
The layout is simple, with minimal controls, and a wide 14.5-inch high-def touchscreen display screen on top of the dash.
It comes with a Genesis Integrated Controller that recognizes handwriting for destinations and phone number inputs.
And that’s just the tip of the tech iceberg; with 21-speaker Lexicon audio, real wood trim, a 12-inch digital gauge cluster, and even Remote Smart Parking Assistant all available.
Whether you stick with standard leatherette, or opt for the real thing, front seats are wide and supremely comfortable, with a massaging function optional.
Rear seats are equally luxurious, and thanks to a longer wheelbase than most of its European rivals, legroom is more than generous.
Though it does come at a price, as trunk space is considerably less than before; down from 15.3 to a compact car -like 13.1 cubic-ft.
Smooth and refined power is a must in this segment, and Genesis offers a choice of turbo power-plants that differ from the German’s basic 2 and 3-liter setups.
Standard, is this 2.5-liter turbo I4 with 300-horsepower and 311 lb-ft. of torque. The upgrade is a 375-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6.
With either engine, comes an 8-speed automatic transmission channeling power to the rear wheels or optionally to all-4.
It didn’t feel like our 2.5T was launching all that hard, but it’s certainly not a slacker, as we hit 60 in just 5.3–seconds. It’s a serene and tranquil trip to the end of the ¼-mile in 14.0–seconds at 101 miles-per-hour. Power is smooth, and shifts are mostly imperceptible. Its everything you want in a luxury vehicle, with just enough exhaust note to give you some sense that you’re rapidly accelerating.
As equipped, this 2.5T is right around 4,000-lbs.; and for the most part, it handles that bulk quite well. Not quite to the point of being nimble; but it’s reasonably responsive to inputs, surprisingly proficient, and deceptively quick.
There was quite a bit of body roll, which is to be expected in a car that makes no claims of being a sports car, but no understeer to hinder the process.
13-inch brake discs are standard on the 2.5T; and they’re quite effective, as 111–feet was all that was needed to bring the G80 to a smooth and stable halt from 60 miles-per-hour. There was quite a bit of nose dive, but better pedal feel than most in the segment.
The G80’s M3 chassis was designed with SUVs in mind, also underpinning their GV80 utility; so naturally, it provides a very solid and stable platform for this sedan. The structure itself is also 55-lbs. lighter than the previous G80.
The multi-link suspension is tuned plush, yet not soft; it combines with the bank vault levels of solitude, to deliver an almost Bentley-esque driving experience.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a rear-wheel-drive 2.5T are 23-City, 32-Highway, and 26-Combined. That’s an average Energy Impact Score; with consumption of 12.7-barrels of oil yearly and emissions of 5.7-tons of CO2.
With a starting price of just $48,745; nothing else comes close to matching the G80’s value in the midsize luxury sedan segment. And while that’s a great value proposition, it’s can also be a stigma that Genesis must overcome if they want to sway buyers from well-established luxury brands. The appeal has to be on merit rather than price. To that, we think the 2021 Genesis G80 is indeed extremely appealing, and a giant step towards becoming a full member of the club.
Engine: 2.5L Turbo I4
Torque: 311 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.0 seconds at 101 mph
EPA: 23 City / 32 Highway / 26 Combined