2018 Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport first drive: A new luxury performance player

2018 Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport first drive: A new luxury performance player
Hyundai Genesis G80 Sports
Hyundai Genesis G80 Sports

I’m looking at the rear three-quarters on this Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport and seeing some Mercedes-Benz and BMW in its design. And frankly, I like the look. So why isn’t Hyundai Genesis selling well in Australia? In my opinion, Australian luxury car buyers are pretty much badge snobs. If it doesn’t have a BMW, Mercedes, Audi or even Lexus badge, it’s going to struggle. Look at Nissan’s luxury arm, Infinity. Nissan is doing a stellar job with marketing to the demographic, but it seems that there’s a long road before Infinity hits a sweet spot let alone drags the German brands’ customers to them.

So whilst Nissan has some credibility with the street racing executive market with the Nissan GT-R, they still haven’t really cracked the upper luxury market as yet. And Hyundai was always going to have a major task to introduce Genesis into the Australian market dominated by the three German marques. Arguably they’ll have some market share increases when the final Holden Caprice has been sold – my contacts in the Limo market tell me that they’re looking at the Genesis as a replacement for their old Holden’s and Fords, without having to scale the heights to LWB BMW and Mercedes offerings. (Chrysler 300 isn’t on their shopping list due to rear seat room and quality)

Hyundai has a battle to crack this market for private buyers. What they desperately need is ‘bums’ on seats. Even then and assuming that the Genesis is a great car (hint to Hyundai!), the badge snobbery is still an issue.

So with great interest, I stumbled upon this ‘first drive’ article from USA industry colleagues at autoweek.com. Like me, I think you’ll find the review very interesting

Hyundai adds another chapter to the book of luxury performance

Let us now quote from the Book of (Hyundai) Genesis: In the beginning, (like, in the ‘80s) there was The Hyundai and, frankly, it was initially bad, for the quality was nay onto not there. And the people with no credit did cry out and gnash their teeth, and the service managers in the valley of warranty claims did fling the BS, and there was darkness throughout the land when the headlights worked not. But that was lo many generations ago, and there are none still working for The Hyundai who recall it, for things did change. In the year of about Y2K, The Chairman hath said unto the Hyundaites in the land of Ulsan, “Let there be quality control.” And lo, there was. And the engines then did start, and long did they operate, with direct injection even unto the lowest Accent; with proper prescribed maintenance, they went forth and with them, sales multiplied and yea, the people even unto Consumer Reports did rejoice. And there was much buying of the Hyundais.

Book II: And Hyundai hath, in the late 2015, announced that it had begat The Genesis, and it would be a new luxury division, with The Quality that the Consumers did crave. And the Genesis did run on new rear-wheel-drive platforms all unto their own, and on these, the Hyundai Equus begat the G90 and the Hyundai Genesis begat the G80 and they were good. The Great Prophet, Genesis division general manager Erwin Raphael, hath said there will be more models, including a coupe and two SUVs. But the people were shallow, and they cried out, “Let us impress our neighbors and yea, even the total strangers in the carpool lane, and for that, there is nothing but the Benz and the Bimmer.” And the Great Prophet Raphael said, “Whoa, for I have good cars of great quality and comfortable rides, and you will see that they are good. For I have sponsored Super Bowl ads and I offer ye three years of complimentary maintenance.” And the people bought them but not in the numbers of the Bimmer and the Benz, which ruled the segment. And the Hyundaites did wail and gnash their Powerpoint presentations and swore vengeance upon the segment leaders.”

So let us now close our marketing playbooks and look at the latest entry in the Book of Genesis, the G80 Sport, a niche model of the smaller G80 wedged in between the 3.8-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter. The G80 Sport has a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that makes 365 hp, more than the 311-hp naturally aspirated 3.8 but less than the 420-hp bigger-block 5.0-liter V8. The G80 Sport gets trim items that set it apart from the other two G80s, but beyond those, it is just the third G80 engine option. Will the people rejoice? We drove two of them around for a day to see.

The Execution

Before we got into a G80 Sport, we spent several hours in a G90, on both freeways and in soul-sucking traffic. And we liked it (the G90, not the traffic) -– so smooth, such a gentle, seemingly more linear throttle, so coddling. If the people, as the great prophet implores them, would just drive one of these, they might like it.


Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport
Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport interior sports copper-threaded trim

The G80 Sport, which we got into the next day, gets its 3.3-liter turbo from the larger and heavier G90. So this recipe is taken straight from the Book of Muscle Car: “Take ye a big engine and put ye it in a smaller car.” The G80 Sport comes in rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations. The rear-driver weighs 4,519 pounds. Divide that by 365 hp and you get a weight-to-power ratio of 12.4; each horse has 12.4 pounds of Genesis G80 Sport to push around. That’s better than the G80 with the normally aspirated 3.8 engine, which pushes 13.5 pounds. The 5.0-liter V8-powered G80 rates a 10.9, though. So if you want the hod-roddinest G80, the 5.0 is still the king of the segment.

That is, if you don’t look outside the Genesis G80 lineup. If you do, you’ll find that the Cadillac CTS-V –- another twin-turbo V6, albeit with 3.6 liters instead of 3.3 — rules. It has 420 hp, each of which hauls around a mere 8.9 pounds. The Audi A6 3.0T and Lexus GS 3.5-liter V6 are also better in weight-to-power ratios than the G80. The Infiniti Q50 beats it, too, in both 300- and 400-hp trims.

And while the G90’s ride might be a little more luxury-like, the G80’s ain’t bad. Push the sport button, throw it in a corner in either rear- or all-wheel-drive configuration and you’ll find that it, for the most part, comes out the other side. It feels all of its 4,519 pounds (4,674 in AWD), meaning it has just a hint of plodding around corners. If pushed too hard, it’ll understeer, but you’re not going to feel compelled to push this very hard. It’s lively enough for what it is, but the 535i, A6 and CTSs feel lighter and more sporty.

Which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with putting the emphasis on luxury over handling, and the G80 is indeed luxurious. The question is: Does the world want this kind of luxury?

Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport
LED headlights on the Genesis G80 Sport

The Takeaway

In some ways, this reminds us of the Volkswagen Phaeton, a perfectly lovely luxury sedan that didn’t catch on with mainstream luxury buyers. This is not to say the Genesis cars won’t catch on. Genesis is aiming at more than just traditional luxury buyers with its cars: There’s a fresh new emphasis on urban buyers who might have come up through the Hyundai ranks and are ready to consider a luxo-cruiser like those offered in the Genesis line.

Pricing is $56,225 for rear-wheel drive and $58,725 for AWD. The exterior trim –- the grille in particular, along with the copper accents throughout, help make the G80 Sport stand apart. Genesis might have begat a winner.

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $USD 56,225 – With currency conversion and Australia’s GST and LCT, Expect that teh Hyundai G80 Sport runs out to about $89,491 plus on road costs = $96,500 in Queensland

As Tested Price: $USD 58,725

Drivetrain: 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, eight-speed automatic, rwd

Output: 365 hp (272 kilowatts)

Curb Weight: 4519 (2054 kilograms)

Options: Paint

Pros: A nicely swaddling sedan…

Cons: …in a class full of them
Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/drive-reviews/first-drive-2018-genesis-g80-sport#ixzz4iDnx31I9

7 thoughts on “2018 Hyundai Genesis G80 Sport first drive: A new luxury performance player”

  1. no confidence my new genesis in the first 3 months it had more trips on a RACV truck spent more time at a genesis workshop than my garage one stay was 21 days all for the same issues electronics elec brake stuck on speedo malfunction rev counter shut down dash warning lights malfunction –if park was selected it locked up with electric park brake on in petrol station lane blocked for 1 one hour car was a problem had same issues the next day on seven occasions with clients aboard it shut down on the hume hwy 100 klm from home thank you racv totol care i waited for hyundai total care 3 hours patient missed chemo app clients missed flights still it is a very good car to drive if you can trust it my 20 year old mercedes has never not reached its destination also my local dealship are unable to work on genesis other than oil change i have to travel 130 klm for repairs -local hyundai dealer is 60 klm away
    i have all documentations to support my claim perhaps when my car proves to be reliable at the moment the merc does trips over 18 klm gegesis is stationary in 55 years of driving {healeys-xu1-monaro gts- hsv specials statesman caprice- fairlanes -mercedes benz}the genesis is the most unreliable never have issues like this remember its a new car in its favour it is the most comfortable quite car sit in it do not drive it unless you have an escort

    1. Sorry to hear about your Genesis woes John but I have a 2014 Ultimate bought when 2 years old. I must say, that in my experience, this has been, and remains, an outstanding vehicle. With its combination of comfort, safety, features and drive, I just love it!
      When I give it a wash, it comes up like new and I never tire from people trying to work out what is it!
      Also, over here in WA, the police are using a number of them for both marked
      and unmarked patrolling.

    2. I’d be wondering what’s gone on with that vehicle. It’s clearly a lemon for some reason. Very weird. We have a 2014 Ultimate and absolutely adore it. Never put a wheel wrong. We got a ‘driven by Hyundai exec’ low mileage car for same price as replacing our Aurion and think it was the deal of the century (still have the Aurion for towing and zipping around – another great car sadly now gone). Would not be griping about no voice recognition either for the price we paid!

  2. I have had a 2015 Ultimate in Black and loved it but the dealership stuffed the paint by buffing it and it could not be fixed so thanks to both Hyundai Australia and the local dealership. The car was replaced with a new 2016 White Genesis Ultimate. I can say the car is comfortable, it looks fantastic and has been reliable. The short fall is no Voice Recognition , for a car in this class and price plus the fact it is the luxury version of the brand it would stop me buying another one because of that alone. Might sound silly but it comes back to safety and being able to make a phone call while on the move. The car has a 5 star Ancap rating but fails when it comes to the simple voice recognition not being a feature that other countries have with this car. This would be the only real down side of the car, everything else is fantastic and represents great value for the price.

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