Genesis G80: the Korean upstart taking on the German carmakers

The Genesis G80 is taking aim at the luxury saloon sector dominated by BMW. Nicole Garcia Merida reports

Genesis G80

Genesis, the luxury division of South Korean carmaker Hyundai, is a relatively new premium car brand, says Richard Aucock on City AM. It successfully launched in the US and South Korea and has now expanded to the UK. There was a “sort-of” launch back in 2015, but “this time around, [it] is much more serious”. The G80 is the brand’s first executive saloon and comes with either a 2.2-litre diesel or 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine, and in a choice of trims: Premium Line, from £37,460 as a diesel, or the Luxury Line from £47,950. What stands out is “the finesse of the drive” – “quiet, easy, precise and stress-free”. 

The G80 is snapping at the heels of the class-leading BMW 5 Series, says Steve Fowler on AutoExpress, seeking to rival the German brand “on quality and class” and offering some new technology that has yet to make it into any BMW. The 5 Series remains the best car of its type, but Genesis has managed to create “the best non-German model in the executive-saloon sector”. The G80 looks the part more than any other recent arrival in its class, with “just the right amount of chrome and high-quality paint finish that make it look as posh as any rival… The best compliment we can pay the car is that it feels very Germanic”.

It’s a car “you can really drive on the nose” too, says Phil McNamara in Car magazine, “surging into corners and relying on the plentiful front-end grip to haul you through”. The eight-speed automatic transmission “whips through the gears smoothly”, the steering is responsive, “jinking the saloon left-right to swerve round cyclists” with aplomb, and the braking is “alert”, delivering “meaty stopping power”.  

Ex-Bentley and Lamborghini design chief Luc Donckerwolke “pulled out all the stops when designing the G80”, says Kristen Lee on The Drive. The previous model “erred on the polite side of bland”, but the new and improved version is “a lot more memorable and striking” as well as “absolutely a joy to live with”. Some cars are built “expressly for sportiness”, but the new G80 is a “rolling testament to luxury”. Whether on the highway or in town, the ride is “incredibly smooth”: “you can barely feel the transmission shifting and the brakes grab progressively and predictably”. The car would “certainly be fine” on back roads too, but overall the G80 is a “highly capable cruiser” that prioritises comfort. And despite the “punchy” performance – the 2.5-litre turbo delivers 304bhp and whisks the car from rest to 62mph in just six seconds – “behind the wheel of the Genesis, there’s little urge to rush anywhere in particular because it’s just such a nice spot to sit”.

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