2021 Genesis G80 3.5T review (video)

Luxury limo-style sedans sit in quite a static market in Australia. The big three German brands have always dominated it with the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Audi A6; and many manufacturers don’t even bother to go near. But late-2020 saw a new kid on the block. And if you saw it in your block, you would have needed to look twice to notice it is not one of the big three.

The all-new 2021 Genesis G80 gouges into the market with all the right attributes; eye-catching styling, a gorgeously elegant interior, loads of tech, and explosive performance from the rear or all wheels. The Hyundai-owned brand has also done very well with packaging and value, and wrapped it up with a segment-leading five-year warranty.

Australian buyers can choose between two variants; the 2.5T and the 3.5T. The 2.5T comes with a new-ish 2.5-litre, turbo-petrol four-cylinder producing 224kW and a healthy 422Nm, sent to the rear wheels. The 3.5T goes with a new 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 that powers all fours, developing 279kW and 530Nm. Both variants are paired with an eight-speed auto gearbox.

Prices kick off from $84,990 for the 2.5T, and rise to $99,900 for the 3.5T rocket launcher that we’re testing here (excluding on-road costs). This test car also shows off the $13,000 Luxury pack option, which is available for the 2.5T as well.

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T – THE SPECS

Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6
Output: 279kW@5800rpm / 530Nm@1300-4500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 20×8.5, 245/40  R: 20×9.5, 275/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2023kg
Power-to-weight: 7.25:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 10.7L/100km
Economy during test: 10.7L/100km

Fuel capacity/Type: 73L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 26.07kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.93 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.77 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.82 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.95 seconds at 168.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.763g
100-0km/h braking: 2.77 seconds at 35.23 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.197g
Decibel at idle: 38*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $99,900

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

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T – THE PACKAGE

During our week with the G80, we had many curious stares and questions from bystanders, asking “what is this car?” That reinforces our opinion that the exterior design is gorgeously eye-catching. It is bold and smooth from front to rear – this dark blue example looks like it is taken directly from a mafia movie set.

The front strikes your attention with slim headlights and distinct quad parallel LEDs. There’s a huge criss-cross chrome ‘crest’ grille that pronounces its stance. Contours flow smoothly to the rear like they have been shaped by speed itself. The rear is fastback shaped, where the boot blends more gradually into the roof than a conventional sedan.

At the back, the taillights match the front with split lenses with sheet metal between them. We love the built-in spoiler shape within the boot line, which adds sportiness and flair. The overall exterior is totally unique in a good way; its design emphasises the exact type of car it is trying to be.

The design and experience continue to tantalise as you step inside, especially with the optional Luxury Pack. The layout is flowy and futuristic, without seeming complicated. There are huge digital panels to view and control everything, and the quality and finish are up there with the best. You get high quality Napper leather with the option pack, suede headlining, real stainless-steel areas, and real open pore wood panelling. The backlit tempered glass gearshift dial that changes colour with the ambient lighting looks brilliant, too. Everything has been well thought out with luxury as the main game. Overall, it screams prestige and elegance.

Design and appeal aside, it is also an ultra-comfortable space to be in. The seats are probably comfier than your lounge chair, and they even have an ‘ergo motion’ function available that massages key areas of your body to reduce fatigue (part of the Luxury pack). Rear passengers are also taken care of with class-leading passenger space, independent air-con controls and two 9.2-inch monitors that can independently play content from a USB drive (part of Luxury pack).

Back to the front row, and you can navigate everything from a huge 14.5-inch multimedia screen. There is also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.0-inch head-up display, and a 6.0-inch touch display for the climate controls. Navigating through all the digital menus are a breeze with the controller dial, as the layout is made simplistic, spaced out, and easy to grasp; rotate to scroll up/down, press directional arrows to jump menus. The digital instrument cluster flaunts a funky 3D layout choice that we have not seen before too.

On the technology front, there’s just too much to mention. The 3.5T with the optional Luxury pack comes with all the expected safety and convenience features, plus more. Our highlights are the incredible 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, rear door and power rear window sunshades, 360-degree cameras with a side view lane changing camera that appears automatically in the instrument cluster, forward and reverse collision mitigation, active shadowing high beam lights, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, and power assisted door closing.

Boot space is also large enough to keep her majesty well accommodated. At 424 litres, it easily slides a couple of suitcases inside. But it obviously doesn’t have the luggage space of an SUV that buyers demand nowadays.

Like it’s head company Hyundai, every Genesis leaves the dealership with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Genesis also offers free servicing until 50,000km or five years, and five years of road-side assistance.

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T – THE DRIVE

There is no option of a hybrid or other fuel-efficient tech in the range, although there is an electric version on the way. For now, it’s just a brutal, fuel-guzzling V6 or a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder. This V6 engine generates an impressive 279kW and 530Nm, and is delivered to all four wheels – quite unique for this class in Australia (for a non-performance model). It’s enough grunt to get the 2023kg mass from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds. Our tests revealed a best of 5.77 seconds, however, we suspect the Luxury pack option adds quite a bit of weight. We also conducted Vbox runs during warm temperatures, of around 27C.

Although it trails behind offerings from performance spin-offs like BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, it takes the lead in power when you compare other engines of the same price point. For example, the Audi A6 45 TFSI is in around the same price range, but only offers 180kW and 370Nm, from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine.

V6 engines like this one are a tried and tested, feel-good formula. With peak torque kicking in at an incredibly low 1300rpm – staying strong right up to 4500rpm – you immediately get a sense of its full potential, even in regular conditions. It is completely effortless. Up steep hills the G80 feels relaxed yet very strong. When you really demand, that distinct V6 angry roar sounds awesome too.

However, all that oomph comes at a cost, at the petrol bowser. The official average fuel consumption is 10.7L/100km. We averaged the same during our week. Only when we had a long trip on the freeway did we see the average fall to 8.7L/100km. Yes, this V6 does have loads of go, but it needs to do better in today’s fuel-conscious market in order to keep up with the rivals.

On the highway, you appreciate the nearly five-metre length of the G80. It rolls along as stable as a freight train, soaking up bumps like gravy flowing over peas. It achieves its impeccable ride thanks to a four-link front and rear adaptive damping suspension setup. This system goes a step further than common adaptive dampers. While most offer fixed settings that are chosen by the driver, the G80 has what Genesis calls “Road Preview Electronic Control Suspension”, where it uses the front mounted camera to scan the road ahead for imperfections, and adjust accordingly, in real-time.

All this translates to an ultra-luxurious ride that would make a chauffeur out of anybody. It absorbs and glides over bumps calmly and quietly. Yet, you can still add spirit to a winding ocean drive as the new platform offers excellent rigidity and precision. Body roll around corners is evident, but those adaptive dampers tighten up for improved agility.

The steering is quite heavy, which adds security, strength and confidence to the manoeuvrability of the car. But smooth braking is difficult to achieve from the 360mm ventilated front discs and 345mm ventilated rear discs. It is a little touchy in our opinion, which makes slowing down to a stop not as progressive as you might expect. Fortunately, these brakes provide outstanding performance during harsher driving, with our Vbox clocking 100-0km/h in just 35.23 metres.

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T – THE VIDEO

2021 Genesis G80 3.5T – THE VERDICT

The new Genesis G80 ticks all the boxes that a large luxury sedan buyer would want and need. It looks brilliant, it launches like a rocket, it is driven by the rear or all wheels, it’s more affordable than its peers, and the luxury levels and features easily match the competition, if not exceed them. It’s a pleasure to drive.

We think the biggest challenge Genesis has is that it does not have that reputable branding or history that many buy into with the more established rivals. That is just going to take time. And with quality products like this being churned out, that time is only getting shorter and shorter.

PROS:
– Class-leading interior, luxury right down to the finer details
– Strong performance comparatively at this price point
– Clever road-reading adaptive dampers
– Low noise and vibration levels put some rivals to shame
– Segment-leading 5-year warranty

CONS:
– Heavy fuel usage, and heavy car
– Lack of brand history/badge cred’ (if that’s important to you)
– Sedan market is dwindling, SUV could be more appealing

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

Mark is a contributing road tester at PerformanceDrive. With the soul and background of an IT nerd, Mark especially appreciates technology advances, safety, and attention to detail. His first car was a rusty powder blue 1972 Volvo 144 sedan. When he's not road testing vehicles, his daily drive is still a Volvo only now it's able to steer and brake all by itself.