2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate review (video)

The 2019 Genesis G80 is looking to steal buyers away from the likes of the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 with a simple strategy: offer a vehicle that is of very similar quality, but undercut the price to snag a new demographic that may have previously been on the fence when it comes to a luxury sedan.

There’s nothing remarkably new about the Genesis G80 over the old Hyundai Genesis, other than a mild facelift with some new tech, and the removal of any Hyundai logos. But, with a range that opens from just $68,900, there is certainly some attraction here. Does the Genesis G80 look like it’s going to start eating away at the sales figures of its German rivals? Let’s have a look and find out.

2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate – THE SPECS

Engine: 3.8-litre V6
Output: 232kW@6000rpm / 397Nm@5000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 19×8.5, 245/40  R: 19×9.0, 275/35
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1935kg
Power-to-weight: 8.34:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 10.8L/100km
Economy during test: 11L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 77L/91 RON

Power efficiency: 21.48kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.49 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.88 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.72 seconds*
1/8 mile: 9.90 seconds at 124.0km/h*
1/4 mile: 15.10 seconds at 154.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.713g
100-0km/h braking: 3.07 seconds at 37.46 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.159g
Decibel at idle: 36*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 76*
Priced from: $88,900

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate – THE PACKAGE

Stepping up to the G80 Ultimate variant over the entry-level G80 3.8 adds Nappa leather, a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, rear-door window blinds, head-up display, and 19-inch alloy wheels with staggered tyre widths (245/40 and 275/35). You also get a handful of goodies in the rear of the cabin that we’ll cover in a minute.

Inside, everything looks as it should in a car with an attached starting price of $88,900. Any allusions to the G80 being a knock-off European car will be quickly dismissed when you step in. There’s copious amounts of cream leather making its way around the cockpit, with some lashings of wood and silver contrast – a familiar aesthetic in the luxury field.

Something that detracts a little from that luxury experience is the infotainment system, which leaves something to be desired when compared to the more modern rivals. Not only is the screen small (for this class), measuring 9.2 inches, there’s also an absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver also misses out on a console-mounted hand dial to navigate through the menus, instead forcing the driver to reach up and touch the screen. It can be frustrating and distracting while driving. Having said that, however, the perforated leather seats are extremely comfortable and have all the adjustability of a business class seat.

One thing that definitely works against the G80 is the switchgear borrowed from lesser Hyundai models; if you’re familiar with Hyundai interiors you’ll notice a lot of the steering wheel’s buttons, as well as indicator and light stalks are taken from the everyday models. Other than some of the trim being finished in plastic, where more luxurious rivals are opting for brushed metal for a more premium feel, it’s hard to find any major flaws.

Rear seat fans, which Hyundai is no doubt trying to target, there’s adjustable seats and a separate central console to control the infotainment system. The seats are also heated and ventilated, while a rear windscreen electric sunshade provides extra privacy, on top of the manual roll-up blinds for the side windows fitted in the Ultimate.

In terms of practicality, there’s 433L of boot space, which is enough for golf clubs, or the dismembered limbs of your corporate enemies. A variety of cubby holes and tie-down hooks help to secure bottles, Rolex watches, and bags of shopping.

All up, both the front and the rear of the cabin are extremely comfortable places to sit on a long journey. While Genesis is guilty of reusing some cheaper Hyundai parts, the total sum of those parts is much greater than you might think – keeping in mind the initial price tag.

2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate – THE DRIVE

It’s one thing to look like a premium offering, but another thing to feel premium on the road. On first inspection, the G80 offers a drive that mimics all the essentials of a European offering: the steering is weighted appropriately, the transmission is smooth and there’s more than enough oomph on offer to get up to speed in a modest and refined manner.

Performance is down to Hyundai’s 3.8-litre petrol V6, which produces 232kW and 397Nm (unchanged from before). It sends power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a silky smooth powerhouse, and considering an entry-level E-Class gets a measly 1.9-litre turbocharged four-cylinder for several thousand dollars more, the Genesis starts to make more sense when you look at it on paper.

Fuel consumption is rated at 10.8L/100km on the official average, and we averaged just over this at 11L/100km over a week-long test of city driving and highway cruising. There’s no doubting the G80 feels large on the road, because, well, it is large… it’s huge. For some, this might take some getting used to, and can be problematic in tight car parks. But the array of cameras and sensors, particularly the overhead view, make it a significantly less daunting task.

The attention to cabin comfort is clearly on show as you’re cruising down the road in near silence, adding to the G80’s limousine character. This leads us to one of the G80’s strongest points; the suspension. The calibration feels bang-on for a luxury car, which should come as no surprise considering Hyundai has been fine-tuning its vehicles specifically for Australian roads for a number of years now. Sure, it’s not as agile and sporty as some of the Euro offerings, but, it’s not intending to be.

Around town, the adaptive suspension soaks up the bumps and leaves the driver and passengers undisturbed, and when pushing around a bend, the G80 is admirably poised considering its weight and comfort-focus. When you’re simply putting around the city, either in the driver’s seat or being chauffeured in the rear, the G80 conducts itself with a level of refinement familiar to its European rivals. In that respect, the G80 accomplishes one of the most important pillars of a luxury sedan.

Genesis ownership is a perk in itself these days, considering it is throwing in a five-year, unlimited kilometer warranty, free scheduled servicing, roadside assist, and a concierge service which will pick up your Genesis when it’s time for a service and drop it home after. This level of customer attention is unprecedented for the price.

2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate – THE VIDEO

2019 Genesis G80 Ultimate – THE VERDICT

The Genesis ticks all the boxes that you’d expect a car of this price to tick, and it does it with a refreshing approach that doesn’t take itself as seriously as some of its German rivals. It’s seven-tenths the car for seven-tenths the price, which is quite a clever market position to be in. In a number of cases, the price tag attached to some of the European rivals doesn’t necessarily justify the end product.

With the Genesis, however, you’re gifted with a premium cabin and a luxurious drive without hitting a six-figure price tag. Granted that prices are north of the old Hyundai Genesis (by about $6000), if you’re able to afford one, you’re unlikely to be too disappointed with what Genesis has delivered. In the absence of the long-gone Holden Caprice, the G80 is a car that the Australian car-buying public needs in order to keep the Germans honest. And for that reason, we like it quite a lot.

PROS:
– Smooth and quiet powertrain
– Looks prominent and expensive
– Supple ride
– European luxury at an undercutting-cost

CONS:
– Some cheap elements inside
– Lacks modern tech
– Longer than some rivals, can be overwhelming

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Alexi is a contributing news journalist and junior road tester at PerformanceDrive. He has a passion and appreciation for the engineering in cars, as well as new technologies that lessen the impact on the environment. His dream cars are an M3 to drive to work, and a LaFerrari for the weekend.