The 2017 Genesis G80 as we know it came to us two years ago as the Hyundai Genesis sedan. Now that Hyundai has broken Genesis off into its own brand, G80 and the larger G90 begin a luxury high-line family of cars from their humble parent.
The a Genesis G80 5.0 liter V8 Ultimate we test here is actually identical to the one that wore the Hyundai nomenclature just last year, but our testing it on the back roads of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest takes on a new perspective.
Now that’s it’s truly dressed for the luxury game, can it play with the big names from German and Japan?
Genesis would tell you their G80 matches each and every competitor head to head and actually exceeds them. This is true in most spec sheet measurements against the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class and Lexus GS.
It’s larger and has more room. It has more standard power from its 3.8 liter V6 at 311, and one of the only to offer a naturally aspirated V8 such as the 5.0 liter 420 horsepower mill found in ours. It boasts more standard features for the money by comparison and at $55,700 fully loaded it’s a bargain when it comes to dollars for toys.
The question is really not one so much of value, but is it a rich, thick and creamy as that German or Japanese luxury sedan that might also have your eye? Does it put a smile on your face when you put the hammer down, and does it feel the part of a luxury player?
Sitting behind the wheel you are met with a tastefully designed dash and center console that while conservative in its appeal boasts excellent materials like matte finish open pore wood and genuine aluminum trims.
Leather seating up front is heated and ventilated, power adjusted and long with the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel feature memory settings for the driver. A large information screen sits between the instruments and is joined by a head up display for all the metrics you can handle.
Infotainment comes through a 9-inch touchscreen and console interface that’s reasonably easy to use but does have a learning curve. The Lexicon audio system with its 900-watt equivalency is nearly s good as the Harman-Kardon and Mark Levinsons of the world.
Space to stretch your legs and be comfortable? Yes. A large panoramic glass roof to light the cabin, check. Heated rear seats however are somewhat absent at this price.
Moving on to what really exhilarates, our drive up Apache Trail just east of Phoenix shows the refined and carefully tuned side of the G80. Its engine revs sewing machine smooth with a distant V8 growl, its 8-speed automatic transmission shifting smooth as silk.
Set in Sport Mode it snaps shifts off quick and deliberative whether using the lever or the paddle shifters. Normal and Eco Modes exist too, Normal being a nice balance and ECO positively oppressive if you enjoy driving.
The EPA rates the 5.0 liter V8 at a rather thirsty 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. We however managed to average 21 mpg in our week with the G80 in spite of some hammering in the mountains.
Handling is another impressive area, a tune that is somewhere in the middle between quiet boulevard cruiser and back road carver. It’s soft and refined, even over rough pavement patches. Grip from its 19-inch rubber is however quite impressive given its considerable curb weight. It can be pushed on a tight windy road a lot faster than you would expect, never upset or acting as if its out of place.
Most remarkable is the level of refinement it has which transcends every touch point from sound to feel, quality to fit, and to taste and design. It’s so refined in fact it’s almost sterile. That can be a good or bad thing depending on what you look for in a luxury car.
Some appreciate the quirks that come with the major luxury brands. No matter how well revered and polished the big names are there always manages to be one little thing that’s out of place. If you are OCD enough that’s a problem, the Genesis G80 might just be the car for you.
Add in the longest warranty of anyone it competes with and a reliability record that makes many of them pale – you have a car that is really worth a look just as it has always been. The difference now is that it has a baggage free brand name that won’t embarrass even the finicky among buyers.