To be more descriptive, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport could have been named Increment.
When you’re building a new luxury brand, as Hyundai of South Korea is doing, you need to take it incrementally, or in steps.
The G80 AWD 3.3T Sport, the subject here, is the second step in a process that has caused some confusion among buyers but likely will shake out eventually.
The original Genesis was a full-size, rear-drive sedan introduced as the flagship of the Hyundai lineup in 2008. Since then, the company has ramped up its reputation for quality, reliability and a diversity of interesting vehicles. In 2012, it took on the reigning Big Guys — BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. — with the Equus, a full-size, full-yacht luxury car.
With the Equus and the Genesis, Hyundai had the makings of a separate luxury brand, following in the tire tracks of Acura, which arrived from Honda in 1986, and Toyota and Nissan, which spun off the Lexus and Infiniti brands in1989.
It can be dicey. Lexus has been an unqualified success. Acura and Infiniti, despite a plethora of desirable vehicles, have struggled to have their names spoken in the same breath with Jaguar or Audi. Mazda tried with Amati in 1992 but flopped.
Hyundai at least merits a medal for bravery. That could happen regardless of whether the Genesis nameplate succeeds. It’s too early to tell, but there’s little question that Genesis has delivered competitive, quality products, though they are but a blip on the sales charts, selling at an annual rate of fewer than 20,000 together in 2017.
With the arrival of the G80, there now are two Genesis models. The top of the line is the full-size G90, formerly the Hyundai Equus.
For now, the 2018 G80 shares the same power train with the G90. It also is classified as a full-size car by the EPA. It is 16 feet 5 inches long with 106 cubic feet of space for passengers and a trunk of 15 cubic feet. The G90 is six inches longer at 17 feet one inch, 113 cubic feet for passengers and 16 cubic feet of trunk volume.
Both cars use an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually with paddles mounted on the steering wheel. But the personalities of the G80 and G90 are quite different, especially given the enhancements of the tested G80 Sport with all-wheel drive.
This is an attractive, satisfying luxury car with few faults and a more than competitive price. At $58,725, the test car likely would be out of reach for many buyers. But against its chosen competitors, it is a bargain.
For example, though BMW owners might sniff at the comparison, the G80 Sport stacks up well — though not in every category — against the BMW 540i xDrive, reviewed recently in this column.
Both have all-wheel drive; twin-turbo V6 engines with similar hp of 365 for the Genesis and 335 for the 540i; eight-speed automatic transmissions with manual shift modes; the Genesis is two inches longer at 16 feet 5 inches, with an interior volume of 121 cubic feet compared to the BMW’s 117; the BMW weighs about 500 lbs less at 4,170 lbs, and the BMW’s combined fuel economy is 23 mpg compared to 20 for the Genesis.
The big difference is the price. Fully equipped, the Genesis’s sticker price of $58,725 was less than the BMW’s base price of $59,745. With options, however, the BMW’s bottom line price came to $82,360.
Another comparison, to the Cadillac CT6 Platinum with all-wheel drive: twin-turbo V6, 404 hp, 8-speed automatic transmission, 17-feet long, 122 cubic feet interior volume, weight of 4,370 lbs and combined fuel economy of 21 mpg. The Caddy’s bottom-line sticker: $91,580.
You could argue that the 540i delivers better driving dynamics and the Caddy may have more luxurious touches, but the G80 is no slouch, with three driving modes: Eco; Normal; and Sport. Using the last, it will accelerate to 60 mph in the five-second range with a top speed of 135.
It is a handsome car with an imposing grille and sensuous lines; Lexus-like interior silence and comfortable ride; roomy and well-bolstered seating for four (forget the center-rear position); panoramic sunroof with an opaque sunshade of a suede-like material; intuitive touch-screen infotainment functions with backup buttons; and organic safety equipment.
There’s nothing not to like. But the Genesis brand sorely needs a crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Model: 2018 Genesis G80 AWD 3.3T Sport four-door sedan.
- Engine:3-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 365 hp, 375 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 16 feet 5 inches.
- EPA passenger/trunk volume: 106/15 cubic feet
- Weight: 4,690 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $58,725.
- Price as tested: $58,725.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) Genesis.