What Car? says...
To explain the, erm, genesis of the Genesis G80 we need to turn to the world of music and specifically a man called Peter Gabriel.
You see, back in the 1970s, Mr Gabriel left the rock band Genesis to ‘go solo’. Here, completely the opposite has happened: the Genesis used to be a luxury model built by Hyundai, but it’s now stepped away to set up an entirely new brand.
Indeed, Genesis is a nouveau premium brand in much the same way DS is to Citroën and Infiniti was to Nissan. It launched in its native South Korea a few years ago and has been carving a niche for itself in the United States for a while, but has only recently arrived in Europe.
The G80 is its luxury saloon, making it a rival to the What Car? Luxury Car of the Year, the BMW 5 Series. That said, the G80’s slightly swoopy roofline arguably gives it a whiff of Mercedes CLS (a four-door coupé based on the E-Class).
As you’d perhaps expect, the Genesis G80 undercuts its big-selling German rivals when it comes to price, but how does it compete on CO2 output, another big factor in this class? That’s something we’ll be finding out in this review, along with how the G80 stacks up in other important areas, including driving manners, interior quality and infotainment.
If you decide you want to buy one – or any other new car for that matter – make sure you search the free What Car? New Car Buying service to find out how much you could save with no haggling at all. It's a good place to find the best luxury car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
You can choose between two engines for the Genesis G80: a 2.2-litre diesel with 207bhp and a 2.5-litre petrol with 300bhp. With the diesel, power is sent to the rear wheels while the petrol has four-wheel drive.
We’ve so far tried the petrol and it’s certainly quick – 0-62mph takes 6.0 seconds, with all four tyres clawing at the road to help get you away from the line without drama. You need to rev the engine quite hard to get the best from it, though, and when you do so it sounds a little strained.
From our experience of the 2.2-litre diesel in the taller GV70, we found that it pulls well from low revs and has a decent spread of power to make getting up to motorway speeds a breeze. We expect it to be a similar story in the slightly lighter G80.
Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts between gears smoothly, and helps to keep things relatively hushed when cruising about sedately.
There’s more tyre noise than in the best rivals, and the G80’s ride isn’t as sophisticated as it is in higher versions of the BMW 5 Series or even the Mercedes E-Class. The suspension isn’t overly firm – it’s just that the car struggles to dampen potholes and other nasty road scars.
Genesis doesn’t claim the G80 is a sporty choice, although that isn’t to say it’s wallowy through corners. It changes directly pretty keenly thanks to plenty of grip, allowing you to cover ground on country roads quickly. If it weren’t for the overly light and slightly numb steering, it might even be quite good fun.
The interior layout, fit and finish
A huge 14.5in touchscreen takes centre stage in the middle of the Genesis G80's dashboard, and can be used to control all the infotainment functions, from music to navigation.
Like all touchscreens, it can be quite distracting to use while driving, especially as you need to swipe left and right to access different functions. Fortunately, there’s another way to control the system: by using a controller between the front seats.
It works a bit like a first-generation iPod because there’s a scroll wheel you spin with your finger and a button in the middle to press when you want to make a selection. It doesn’t take long to get used to, although it's not as intuitive as the larger iDrive rotary controller in the BMW 5 Series.
You get smartphone mirroring for Android and Apple devices as standard on all G80s, along with a nine-speaker sound system. The optional Lexicon system is worth considering if you like to crank up the volume.
Elsewhere, the G80’s interior looks elegant and feels solidly put together, and most buttons and switches have a suitably expensive feel to them. There are a number of colour schemes and real wood choices, along with plenty of aluminium highlights, so the interior can be as light and airy or dark and conservative as you choose.
We’ve no complaints about the driving position thanks to plenty of (fully electric) seat adjustment and user-friendly controls for the air conditioning.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’ll find lots of space in the front of the Genesis G80, with seats that slide back a long way on their runners and plenty of head room. It’s worth noting that we’ve yet to try a version fitted with the optional sunroof, a feature that often lowers the height of the ceiling.
The same goes for head room in the back, but without a sunroof there’s enough to comfortably carry a couple of six-footers. There's at least as much leg room in the rear as you’ll find in the BMW 5 Series, although the Volvo S90 has considerably more.
Seating three people across the rear will be a squeeze, and a taller person in the middle might need to duck because the central perch is higher than the outer positions.
As the G80 is a saloon, the boot opening is quite small, but the same goes for its key rivals. Boot space is roughly on a par with the BMW 3 Series (some way behind the 5 Series) but you’ll still fit in a few suitcases or a set of golf clubs.
If you go for the Executive Pack, you can fold down the rear seatbacks electrically, and they split in a handy 40/20/40 arrangement. Luxury Line models add a powered tailgate.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
While the Genesis G80 undercuts most big-name German rivals on price, that’s only one dimension of costs – it’s also important to factor in ownership bills and what you’re actually getting for your money.
Given that a lot of company car drivers end up in luxury saloons, it’s disappointing that CO2 emissions aren’t lower. The best the G80 can manage is 164g/km (in 2.2 diesel form), so it finds itself in a much higher benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax band than an equivalent BMW 520d.
While the 5 Series, Audi A6 and Volvo S90 are available in plug-in hybrid form to reduce monthly tax bills even more, the G80 isn’t. Your maintenance costs should be lower, though, because Genesis includes five years of services as part of the price. An all-electric version will be joining the range soon, offering cheap tax bills for those who can live with an electric car.
Depreciation isn’t expected to be too severe by luxury saloon standards, which is good news for private buyers. That’s no doubt helped in part by a standard five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and Genesis says it is prioritising customer service, something it’s won awards for in other countries.
You get plenty of luxury kit for your money, too. Even entry-level Premium Line models come with 19in alloys, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry.
The amount of standard safety kit eclipses many rivals, and that's one of the reasons the G80 scored five stars (out of five) in its Euro NCAP safety test. Opting for the Innovation pack brings other automated features, such as lane change assist on the motorway, and an upgraded emergency braking system that helps you to avoid vehicles pulling out of junctions.
|RRP price range||£43,045 - £73,465|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||31.2 - 33.9|
|Available doors options||4|
|Warranty||5 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£140 / £3,912|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£279 / £7,825|