Decoding the Genesis G80
I do remember the first time I drove the car that is now badged the Genesis G80. Then it was just the Hyundai Genesis and there were already suggesting of the Genesis becoming a brand in its own right. It was a significant step up for Hyundai and started the revolution from the South Korean manufacturer that has it as one of the world’s most innovative and impressive vehicle manufacturers.
But you weren’t going to get anyone, other than a value conscious limousine driver, to fork out between $80k and $105k for a Hyundai. No matter how good the car was or is, and the G80 is good for what it is.
But see it as the start of something special and it makes sense. It is luxurious, comfortable and incredibly competent. It has space to burn and gobbles up kilometres with ease—I took it for a quick trip to The Bend Motorsport Park and back, a lazy 1,500km in three days and at no point in time did I feel fatigued.
I did love the cranking stereo, even without Apple Car Play (or the Android one) which has got to be the most overrated feature ever on a car. Turn up the volume on Richard Clapton’s I Am An Island and it felt like I was in a band room and it entertained cows and sheep as I passed them by, but you also have to understand it is not just about the superficial. Let’s unpeel some layers.
The basis of any good car is the chassis, and the G80 chassis is mighty impressive. It is dialled more towards luxury that sport, which means it soaks up bumps and irregularities with easy and turns speeds humps into nothing. But point it at corners and grips and talks, you know what is happening underneath and while it can feel a little wallowy on repeated direction changes, it never lets you down.
It has the obligatory sport mode and other settings, and they work well. So when you head into the Dandenongs jump into sport, when you are headed to Tailem Bend, just go easy.
The 3.8L V6 engine is strong and pulls well, I’d love to have a crack at the V8 or the turbo that is available elsewhere just to see how much you can stretch it, but ce le vie. On the open road it is economical, in the city not so much.
Like the G70, the only obvious areas that needs attention is the gearbox. The changes are slow and slurred and could really do with a sharpen up and some reprogramming. For most people it won’t matter and they may not even notice, but if you back-to-backed with a 5-series BMW, for instance, you would. The question is whether you will care, and most won’t.
So once you have dealt with the heart of the car and grasp its capabilities, you can deal with the soft stuff.
The interior is a glorious place to be. The wood panelling may be fake, but it is a bloody good fake. The dash is well laid out and there is a heads-up display which is something my next car will have it is so important. The Sat Nav spends its life talking to you once you’ve set-it up to sound the warnings you want and how you want them. “Speed and Red Light Camera ahead, Speed Limit is 80km/h”, you have no excuses in this car for getting booked.
The front seats adjust in just about any way you can think, and they have seat heaters and coolers. The driver’s seat in the test car also had the easy access function where the steering wheel moves up and the seat slides back to get in and out, meaning you don’t have to compromise your driving position just for access. The rear seats also have recline functions and the arm rest carries controls for all sorts of things, including rear seat heaters—good—and the stereo—bad with the music choice from my kids. And if you are wondering why it is so quiet inside, that the acoustic laminated glass.
The body is long and elegant with great headlights and other design features. The Sport Design model we had has the cross hatched grille and redesigned from bumper which looks much better than the chrome bars of the standard model. The wheels are big and black and fill the arches and it makes a statement, especially so now with the elegant and bold Genesis badge. The colours are great too, and the paint finish is outstanding.
All the safety gear is there too, so there you know the car is not just 5-star crash safety, but also geared up well to avoid incidents.
So to the elephant in the room. A $100,000 Hyundai, which is how many will see it.
Genesis will one day have the brand smack of Lexus, just not yet. So can you ignore the badge and buy a bloody good car at a really good price. To get a well-equipped large sedan from Europe will cost you more, probably a lot more, but when you rock up to school and drop the kids off will you hold your head up.
Short answer for me is yes, I’d sit there knowing what I’d bought and then go home and watch the 8K TV (also from South Korea and now rated the best TVs on the planet) I’d bought with the money I saved.
Yeah, some bits of the car and the package are derivative, but Genesis is coming, and I can’t wait to see what is next. The new G80 next year is something I am waiting for, but in the meantime, this model is just bloody good.
This really is the first of the Genesis brand. A car that came out first with a Hyundai badge, but was so good and different to the normal Hyundai the marketing people knew they had to split it away and do a Lexus. The G80 feels a little dated in spots, but it doesn’t suffer for it.
It is a good size for a family car—it is used extensively by limo drivers so that tells you something—and is realty well built and comes with a warranty and service plan other manufacturers just dream of. If it hadn’t disappeared from the market for a little bit, it might just have been the car I put down my money for a year ago.