2021 Genesis G80 Review - A new contender in the segment

Intro

By now you should have heard of the car brand Genesis. The upscale sub-brand of the Korean manufacturer Hyundai has made big strides over the past decade, and aggressively assembled a full line of excellent vehicles to compete in the traditionally German dominated luxury vehicle segment. 

The Genesis G80 is an executive sedan slotted between the company’s smaller G70 and the larger G90 sedans. We reviewed the first generation G80 in 2018. While it was a good looking sedan that was also fun to drive, the Genesis brand lacked a unified design language at the time. 

That is no longer the case in 2021. In a few short years, Genesis has managed to redesign the entire lineup from the ground up with a sophisticated and unified design language. The second generation G80 shares the same platform as the newly introduced luxury SUV, the GV80. It is a gorgeous vehicle with an equally impressive spec sheet. How does it compete with the best in its class? 

Thanks to Genesis Canada, I was loaned the 2021 Genesis G80 for one week to find out. Below is my unbiased review.  

Exterior

The 2021 G80 is a handsome vehicle no matter which angle it is viewed. You will find little resemblance or design cues from other car manufacturers, and the design indeed screams sophistication. The company fittingly called it “Athletic Elegance”, and the transformation is overseen by the brilliant automotive designer Peter Schreyer. 

The front fascia of the G80 is inspired by the brand’s emblem. The oversized crescent grille is accompanied by quad headlamps to resemble the emblem’s wing shape. This combination is now a distinctive feature for every Genesis. The continuous lower air intake further emphasizes the front fascia’s sense of width, making it look more planted and assertive.  

The side profile of the G80 is arguably my favorite. The parabolic silhouette is inspired by classic fastbacks dating back to the 40s. The coupe-like side profile is accompanied by sweeping character lines and signal lights that are visually extended from the front quad lamps. Beefy wheel arches and large 20” wheels give the otherwise elegant design a sporty vibe. 

The rear profile features rear quad lamps similar to the ones in front. Chrome decor underneath the integrated deck lip stretches the full-width trunk and mirrors the dual chrome exhaust finishers. The finishers are shaped to look like crescent front grilles. It is details like these that sets the new G80 apart from its predecessor.



Interior

Similarly, the interior of the new G80 is a significant step up from its predecessor as well. Once again, resemblance to the Genesis logo can be seen in the dashboard design. A sculptured, sweeping brushed aluminum trim across the deck immediately elevates the class of the cockpit. Unlike the first generation G80, not many parts are shared with its Hyundai cousins. The climate control cluster is beautifully crafted with a large screen and diamond knurled temperature control knobs. With dedicated buttons, it is also one of the easiest systems to operate. 

The stick shift lever is replaced by a rotary knob that is beautifully crafted. This frees up the center console and makes the front cabin feel more roomy. Padded soft leather covers most of the touchable surfaces, and all of the metal trims feel solid and well crafted. Make no mistake, the interior of the 2021 G80 certainly belongs to a luxury vehicle.  

The front seats are very comfortable with excellent lumbar supports and side bolsters. They are covered with attractive quilted leathers and are both heated and ventilated. Front passengers also enjoy plenty of leg and headroom. 

The rear seats offer plenty of legroom, but taller passengers might find the headroom restricted due to the fastback silhouette. The seats are nicely cushioned with standard heated surfaces. Rear passengers also enjoy premium features such as side and rear privacy shades, a dedicated temperature controlled climate system, and an unobstructed view thanks to the large panoramic sunroof. 

Infotainment

The massive 14.5” LCD display is one of the first things you will notice when you step into the G80. The iPod-like interface is both attractive and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, the center display is controlled via the new rotary/toggle/swipe interface in the center console. While it is indeed innovative, I find it unintuitive and difficult to operate in practice. First of all, the rotary dial is flush with the center console surface, making precise rotation difficult because you can’t grab onto the dial like the rotary gear selector. Second, it is positioned too far forward. It is hard to comfortably use the dial pad while having your elbow resting on the armrest. Third, I find the touch surface redundant and difficult to register. It is the case where a simpler command dial like the ones found in a BMW or a Mazda would work better. Yes, the 14.5” LCD is touch sensitive, and you can interact with the system that way. But the screen is placed quite far from the driver’s seat. It would be dangerous to reach for the screen while driving. 

Thankfully, you can access some infotainment functions through the buttons on the steering wheel. The standard head-up display as well as the instrument cluster also provide most of the important vehicle information. Our 2.5T Advanced trim tester comes with an 8” color LCD cluster display and analog gauges. The 3.5T Prestige trim gets the world’s first 12.3” 3D digital cluster. The LCD cluster display shows you blind spot views via the cameras mounted on the side mirrors when turn signals are activated. 

Regardless of trims, the G80 supports both Android Auto and Apple Carplay. It also comes with a Lexicon premium audio system that incorporates 21 high efficiency speakers and a 14 channel digital amplifier. The audio system sounds fantastic in the properly noise isolated cabin. 

Safety and Driver Assistance

Like all the Genesis I have test driven so far, the G80 comes standard with loads of active safety features. They include:

  • Brake Assist (included with ESC)
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)
  • Parking Distance Warning (4 sensors in front and rear)
  • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), and Lane Following Assist (LFA)
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)

The 3.5T Prestige trim also gets:

  • Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist Rear (PCA-R)
  • Forward Attention Warning

It is worth noting that the Surround View Monitor system of the G80 is both high resolution and provides more information at once due to the large screen real estate compared to the other systems I have tested. 

At the time of writing, the 2021 G80 has yet been tested by IIHS and NHTSA. 

Driving

Our 2.5T Advanced trim tester is powered by a 2.5L turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine. It produces 300hp of power and an impressive 311 lb.ft. of torque. The extra displacement may contribute to the increased power compared to a 2.0L turbocharged engine often found in its German competitors. The 3.5T Prestige trim is equipped with a 3.5L twin turbocharged V6 that produces 375hp of power and 390 lb.ft. of torque. If you plan on racing a BMW or a Mercedes on the road, the 3.5T will be the one you want. 

On the other hand, the 2.5T engine is pretty lively in its own right. It provides significant low end power that only increases toward the mid range. 0-100km/hr happens in roughly 6 seconds, and the transmission feels smooth and composed. The start-stop system is not as refined as some of its competitors. A noticeable jolt could be felt when the engine engages. 

The AWD system of the G80 is rear-wheel-biased. The system only sends torque to the front wheels to prevent slippage. This setup ensures maximum acceleration while maintaining vehicle control in all driving conditions. 

The suspension is tuned for comfort, but still does a decent job of minimizing body roll in corners. Steering is precise and relaxed. There is enough feedback from the steering wheel but the G80 certainly doesn’t feel as sporty as the G70. After all, it is an executive sedan tailored to the comfort of all passengers. 

Cargo Space & Storage

There is 371L of cargo space in the trunk. It is smaller compared to some of its competitors. Also, the second row seats cannot be folded flat. A ski passthrough is your only option of storing longer objects. Under the trunk floor is a full spare tire. I always prefer to have a physical spare rather than an emergency inflation system. 

In cabin storage options are plentiful. In the center console is a deep storage bin under the armrest, two cup holders, and a small tray that houses a wireless charger for your smartphones. The glove compartment and the front door pockets are decently sized.

Rear passengers can access the cup holders and the storage tray in the folding armrest. Behind the front seat backs are two hard-shell storage pouches. The rear side door pockets are smaller compared to the front ones. 


Verdict

The 2021 G80 is a significant step-up from its predecessor in every single aspect. It is a true contender in the competitive luxury vehicle segment. While Genesis no longer needs to compete based on price alone, the fact that it is thousands of dollars cheaper than a similarly equipped German counterpart make it an even more appealing choice. Its biggest competitor might actually be within the brand. The GV80 luxury SUV shares most of its features in a much more popular car style. I will keep you updated once I have test driven the GV80. 

Test Vehicle
2021 Genesis G80 2.5T Advanced

MSRP
$66,128 CAD including Freight & PDI

Color
Savile Silver




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