Launching a new luxury car brand takes guts, determination and deep pockets. However, Hyundai is pretty confident that over time, its Genesis brand will spread its wings and become a sought-after alternative to the German luxury marques. Or at least, to Lexus, Infiniti and Acura.
To make Genesis’ launch even more challenging, the Koreans won’t be introducing an SUV to the lineup before next year. For now, there are three sedans to choose from, including the compact G70, the midsize G80 and the full-size G90.
If the G80 looks familiar, it’s because Hyundai sold it during the 2015 and 2016 model years as the second-generation Genesis sedan. For 2018, a new Sport trim has been added that boasts the company’s twin-turbo, 3.3-litre V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. It’s connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system. So far, so good.
This may be the best powertrain for the 2018 Genesis G80. The 3.8 Luxury and 3.8 Technology trims get a 311-horsepower V6, while the 5.0 Ultimate is equipped with a 420-hp V8. Both good engines indeed, but the twin-turbo mill gives the car a sportier character with a decent exhaust note and lots of low-end torque.
No, this isn’t a BMW 5 Series or a Maserati Ghibli rival, but for someone who’s looking at a midsize luxury sedan and doesn’t necessarily want resolutely sporty driving dynamics, the G80 can hold its own. The Sport trim gets a recalibrated suspension and larger brakes, while its HTRAC all-wheel drivetrain’s torque split is more biased towards the rear wheels when the Sport drive mode is selected. The engine’s peak torque ranges from 1300 to 4500 rpm, which means fast take-offs and great mid-range punch.
We averaged 10.7 L/100 km aboard the G80 Sport, which isn’t too shabby, although super unleaded fuel is required. The eight-speed automatic works like a charm, with seamless upshifts and—when the Sport mode is activated—quick downshifts.
We like what Genesis has done with the car’s styling in Sport trim. Its dark chrome accenting, tinted taillights, quad exhaust tips, rear bumper diffuser and gunmetal 19-inch wheels tastefully accentuate the G80’s elegant looks.
As with the exterior, the sedan’s cabin design isn’t breathtaking, but it’s nicely done. Our test car was dressed up with two-tone, black and grey Nappa leather upholstery with copper contrast stitching, and there’s carbon-fibre-like trim on the dashboard and door panels. Silver trim can be found pretty much everywhere, but the overall look isn’t overdone in any way.
There are a lot of buttons, but at least the climate control’s functionalities and all the infotainment system’s menus are easily accessible. The interface includes a 9.2-inch touchscreen with fairly modern graphics, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard, and the console-mounted controller isn’t difficult to use while driving. The 900-watt Lexicon sound system with 7.1-channel surround and 17 speakers is magnificent.
The middle rear passenger will have to deal with a transmission tunnel and a flat seat cushion, but otherwise, there’s plenty of space and comfort for all other occupants. The driver gets 16 power adjustments for finding an optimal driving position, while the front passenger benefits from a 12-way power seat.
There are no Genesis dealerships in Canada, which doesn’t mean there won’t be in the near future. However, the brand wants to do things a little differently by selling their vehicles online. Potential customers can book a test drive, and a Genesis representative will show up our doorstep for us to experience and try out the car we’re interested in.
In the case of the G80, there are numerous paint colours available, and although the Sport trim only offers two interior furnishing options—black and the two-tone layout of our test car—the 3.8 and 5.0 trims boast five different schemes, including beige, black, brown, grey and ivory. Genesis even told us online buyers are more inclined to go for more colourful interiors, while a dealership would normally order “safe” options like black or beige.
The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport comes fully loaded at $62,000, which not only includes freight and delivery charges, but also complimentary scheduled maintenance for five years or 100,000 km (which comes first) as well as concierge service and courtesy vehicle. Comprehensive warranty coverage is five years or 100,000 km.
In comparison, a Mercedes-Benz E 400 sedan starts at $70K, an Acura RLX starts at almost $68K and an Infiniti Q70 Sport is listed from close to $66K. On the other hand, while the G80 offers great bang for the buck, its resale value likely won’t be as high as those of its rivals. A 2015-2016 Hyundai Genesis sedan, which was listed between $50K and $62K when new, can currently be scooped up on the used-car market for $20K to $30K, depending on mileage.
Hyundai has improved a lot over the past few years in regards to reliability and customer satisfaction, but the biggest issue with Genesis cars is that many people who shop in this price range want a prestigious badge to show off their good taste. You won’t get that here. Still, this new luxury brand has some impressive products, and if we trade in our vehicles every few years, leasing might be a good option here.
As for the car itself, the G80 Sport is very likeable. It’s well crafted, supremely comfortable and very powerful. It can do everything a car from another luxury brand can, except make the neighbours envious with the crest from an established premium manufacturer.