I’m used to getting questions about the test cars I drive, but few get as many comments as the Genesis G80 3.3T Sport I just drove.
Dressed in Caspian black, a deeply layered sparkling metallic black, the G80 oozes luxury and authority on the road. Old and young folks alike asked what it was, guessing everything from a new unmarked police car to a Bentley. What it is, is fantastic, and Bentley-like, but without the horrible price tag.
If you’re not a car geek you may be unfamiliar with Genesis, as were several of the questioners. It’s Hyundai’s new luxury brand. Think Toyota’s Lexus or Honda’s Acura.
Like those makes, it has invaded the luxury sedan market with a generously equipped model at a price that seriously undercuts the existing luxury brands. Its looks are a mix of BMW and Audi, and the badge on its nose and tail resembles the spread wings of a Bentley. Hyundai did its homework!
I consider this the best looking luxury sedan today, with the exception of Audi’s sleek A7 fastback.
A little more history. For 2018 the G80 line adds a Sport model with a new engine, a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that cranks an amazing 365 horsepower with a torque rating of 376 lb.-ft. Some offer more, some less, but even weighing in at a solid 4,519 lbs., this new G80 will move.
Other engines available in the G80 include a 3.8-liter V6 with 311 horsepower and a powerful 5.0-liter V8 that kicks horsepower up to 420, with slightly more torque than the twin-turbo V6.
Hyundai perfectly matches its 8-speed automatic, a Shiftronic model, to the 3.3 turbo though. So the power delivery is smooth with no turbo lag. And while the car feels solid and heavy as you’d expect in a rear-drive luxury sedan, you never feel the car lacks for oomph off the line.
Wisely the Genesis engineers go with three drive mode selections, Eco (yawn), Normal (fine 95% of the time) and Sport (when you feel like having a little fun, or blasting to highway speeds). Some makers pretend we’ll be racing their luxury sedans and offer even sportier modes. No need!
In Sport the steering firms up and the engine revs higher as it holds the lower gears longer to provide starting-line power. It’s fun, but unnecessary mostly. Plus the heavier wheel feel could prove tiring to older buyers.
But I suspect mostly smart-shopping younger, monied buyers will be lining up for the G80.
Ride is supple and luxurious, with enough road feel to communicate that the sedan is not riding on air, but likewise our rough southeast Wisconsin roads also won’t do you any bodily harm. The Sport upgrades to a sport suspension, which aids the car’s handling without compromising its ride. The car’s lengthy 118.5-inch wheelbase is a big ride assist too.
And while the G80 is no BMW or Audi if you were to take it on a road-racing track, the sedan handles well with precious little lean in high-speed turns. This is one I got to test at Road America last spring and it showed a lot of poise through Canada Corner and up through the esses that follow.
Braking is substantial, as you’d expect, with large disc brakes all around, plus stability and traction control.
But that’s only the start for safety here. For 2018 Genesis adds a pedestrian detection system that will automatically brake the car if it sees a pedestrian in the car’s route. Also new is a Driver Attention Alert system to sense if you’re not giving the car proper steering wheel input.
That starts with blind-spot warning, front and rear parking sensors, a lane-keeping system, and a multi-view camera so you don’t “just” see out the back, but sides and front too. There’s a smart cruise control system that slows the car automatically when a slower moving vehicle pulls in front of it on the highway.
Add to that the rain-sensing windshield wipers with automatic windshield defogger, plus a new carbon dioxide detector that can tell if too much CO2 is in the car’s cockpit. The detector then flushes the interior with fresh air to reduce the chance of a driver dozing at the wheel.
Inside, the tested G80 featured black perforated leather sport seats, which means they wrapped around the driver and front-seat passenger well enough to provide excellent back and hip support. The seats are powered and the driver’s seat includes two memory settings, plus both front seats are heated and cooled, the latter much appreciated on steamy summer days. Rear seats are simply heated.
Seats here were trimmed in brown stitching, as were the well-padded leather door inserts. Trim was a matte metal finish and carbon fiber look on the dash and doors. Pedals were metal trimmed too, adding a bit of sportiness to the interior.
G80 also features another of Hyundai’s extremely well-designed dashes with buttons and knobs that are easy to see, reach and use without confusion. Plus the Genesis features a large 9.2-inch radio and navigation touchscreen that was simple to use. Hope other car designers start to figure this out soon.
Overhead is a dual-pane sunroof with power cover, plus there’s a power rear sun shade for the rear window that either the driver, or a backseat passenger can deploy. Rear side windows have manual shades.
There also are inside fuel and trunk release buttons and the side mirrors fold flat to the body when the car’s ignition is turned off.
The transmission has a push-button to put the car in Park, something that takes a considerable amount of time to adjust too. Plus the G80 has a large A-pillar that can obscure front-to-side views at some angles when at a stoplight.
Oh, and did I mention how quiet the Genesis interior is? It’s wonderfully quiet, just sort of bathing the driver in stress relief, not a bad thing in today’s fast-paced and noise-invaded world.
In back is a power trunk lid and 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is plenty to hold suitcases for four or five travelers. And the car’s interior is roomy enough that three can actually sit in back without feeling too snug.
Of course if you’re in the market for a large luxury sedan it’s possible that gas consumption isn’t atop your shopping list must-haves. Good, because I got just 16 miles per gallon in about 60% city driving. The EPA says to expect 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. However, if you do mostly highway driving the results are better. I did one 90% highway stint and got 24.7 mpg.
More important may be the price for such luxury, and here’s where Genesis puts the cherry atop this automotive sundae. The base price for the G80 3.3 Sport in rear-drive mode, as this one was, is $55,250 with a $975 delivery fee. There were no options, nor any needed, on the test car. Moving to an all-wheel-drive model pushes that to $58,725.
Certainly those are not prices most of us are ready to shell out for our everyday commuter, but for a luxury sedan of this size, comfort and thusly equipped you’d expect to pay upward of $10 grand more for some makes. Genesis also offers a generous warranty of 10 years and 100,000 miles for the drivetrain and 5 years and 60,000 miles for its full warranty.
As mentioned above, the G80 comes with three engine choices. The base 3.8 model with rear drive starts at $42,725 and in AWD at $45,225. The upscale of this upscale model, the 5.0 with the V8, lists at $57,975 and the AWD model at $60,475.
In today’s world that makes this Genesis a cost leader for this market, and as the test car came, the Sport is as fine a luxury sedan to drive and ride in as most could want.
FAST STATS: 2018 Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport
Hits: Handsome luxury sedan, loaded with safety electronics, at modest price, plus big-time warranty. Excellent ride, power and good handling, plus whisper-quiet interior. Heated/cooled front seats, heated back seat, power sun shade, dual-pane sunroof, power tilt/telescope wheel, big radio/nav screen and excellent dash layout and buttons placement.
Misses: Big A-pillar can obscure front to side view.
Made in: Ulsan, South Korea
Engine: 3.3-liter V6, twin-turbo, 365 hp
Transmission: 8-speed Shiftronic automatic
Weight: 4,519 lbs.
Wheelbase: 118.5 in.
Length: 196.5 in.
Cargo: 15.3 cu. ft.
MPG: 17/25 (EPA)
MPG: 24.7 (tested)
Base Price: $55,250
Dealer’s Price: $52,772 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $56,225
Sources: Genesis, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage