Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand may be all new, but its first car isn’t. The 2017 Genesis G80 was previously sold as the Hyundai Genesis, before Hyundai decided to sell its luxury models under a separate brand name.
The G80 is no ordinary Hyundai, but is it really special enough to launch a completely new car brand, and take on established rivals from Germany, Japan, and America? Read on to find out.
Genesis of Genesis
Aside from the name change, the G80 is pretty much the same as the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, which was actually the second-generation sedan to wear that name. The rebranding is just that, with no substantial styling changes involved.
The G80 makes a strong first impression with its sheer size and massive grille. A relatively low roofline and steeply raked windshield give the big sedan a somewhat sportier look without compromising outward visibility for the driver too much. A crease running across the body through the door handles hides a bit of the car’s bulk as well.
Overall, the G80 is a handsome-looking car, but the styling is also a bit generic. Some of the details, including the shield-shaped grille and the strip of LED daytime running lights are a bit derivative of Audi styling in particular. Still, your friends will recognize the G80 as a luxury car, even if they don’t recognize the winged Genesis badge on the hood.
Surprising power, laid-back dynamics
Digital Trends was handed the keys to an HTRAC all-wheel drive model, a sensible choice as testing took place in New York state during what is supposed to be one of the snowiest times of the year. All-wheel drive is only available with the base 3.8-liter V6, while both the V6 and a 5.0-liter V8 can be had with rear-wheel drive.
Your friends will recognize the G80 as a luxury car, even if they don’t recognize the winged Genesis badge on the hood.
The V6 produces 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque—compared to 420 hp and 383 lb-ft for the V8—but that proved to be more than adequate despite the G80’s hefty 4,453-pound curb weight. It managed to haul the big sedan away from stoplights with surprising fleetness, and doing it with a pleasant growl. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifted both smoothly and quickly.
While the G80 seems to have potential as a getaway car, it isn’t exactly sporty. The emphasis is on smoothness and comfort, not lap times. The G80 doesn’t so much attack corners as waft through them, although body roll is quite well controlled. The steering provides little in the way of feedback. Genesis is planning a G80 Sport model, with a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and adaptive suspension. Maybe it will be a bit more exciting.
To be fair, The G80 was never meant to be a sports car. It’s cushy luxury sedan designed to coddle its occupants, and it does that job well. The suspension made even the nastiest-looking potholes seem nonexistent, and virtually no road noise penetrated the cabin. The G80 is definitely a nice place to be.
Luxurious and functional interior
Quietness wasn’t the only appealing aspect of the G80 cabin. Like the exterior, the interior design carries over largely unchanged from the old Hyundai Genesis, but there wasn’t much that needed fixing.
Contrasting some other current luxury-car interiors, the G80 design is simple, and free of unnecessary extravagances. The dashboard nicely incorporates the 9.2-inch touchscreen display without any strange bulges or shapes. The wood trim actually looks real, and even the plastic pieces appear to be of high quality.
The layout is functional as well. A rotary controller on the center console can be used as an alternative to touching the screen, and plenty of backup analog buttons make navigating the infotainment system a lot easier than systems that rely more heavily on touch controls alone.
The infotainment system responds quickly to prods of the touchscreen, twists of the rotary controller, or button pushes. Its graphics aren’t the most dazzling in the world, but they are very easy to read. The G80 is available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though, so drivers can always use those systems to access phone-based functions and features instead. Note that a Genesis skill is also available for Amazon Alexa.
The G80 has a relatively tall driver-seating position, which feels a bit strange but does help with outward visibility, compensating for the car’s relatively high belt line. Headroom is decent, even with the optional panoramic roof fitted to this test car, which reduces it a bit. Rear-seat legroom is generous, and the seats themselves are comfortable, but still decently supportive.Our Take
The 2017 Genesis G80 is a very competent luxury sedan with an impressive level of refinement and functional tech features. It is a fairly complete package, although a less-than-exciting driving experience and conservative exterior styling are notable demerits.
What are the alternatives?
Luxury-sedan buyers are spoiled with choices, but the G80 compares most directly to the Lincoln Continental and Cadillac CT6 — which just happens to be Digital Trends’ 2016 Luxury Car of the Year. All three are large sedans that largely emphasize comfort over sportiness.
The Continental is much less of a wallflower than the G80, but Lincoln’s designers may have gone a bit too far with its cumbersome exterior styling. The Lincoln also can’t match the power of the Genesis’ optional V8 engine.
The Cadillac CT6 is appreciably sportier than the G80, and better looking. However, its interior looks cheap compared to the G80’s, and the Cadillac CUE infotainment system is much less user friendly.
How long will it last?
The G80 went on sale during the 2015 model year as the Hyundai Genesis, so it is not a brand-new vehicle. It is still fairly competitive with newer models in terms of available features though, and still has a few years to go before needing a full redesign. Genesis parent Hyundai also has a fairly good reputation for long-term reliability, something that can’t be said of many standalone luxury brands.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a comfortable luxury sedan with lots of convenience features, then yes. The 2017 Genesis G80 compares fairly well to cars from established luxury brands, it just doesn’t really go beyond a mastery of the essentials. It doesn’t offer sporty driving, soul stirring design, or indeed anything not available on competitor models. Nonetheless, the G80 is a solid choice in its price range.