We were fairly impressed with the Genesis G90 luxury sedan. It was large. It was long. It was spacious, especially in the backseat. It had every bell and whistle you could want. But the most impressive attribute was that it was surprisingly quick. The two-and-a-half-ton behemoth launched off the line like an anti-tank missile out of it’s tube, it’s all-wheel drive clawing for traction as the twin-turbo 3.3L V6 quietly roared. As much as we liked the car, we wondered what the smaller upcoming G80 Sport would be like with that same engine.
The G80 is the second car from Genesis, the fledgling South Korean luxury automaker. Noticeably smaller than the illustrious G90, it shares similar design cues and lines but the execution works a little better on the G80 Sport’s smaller frame. It has strong accent lines, an aggressive front fascia, and large wheels filling out large, muscular wheel wells. The car has an imposing stance that suggests sporting potential and speed. It’s a handsome car and it’s design comes off as slightly more original.
The interior is both spacious and inviting. There’s plenty of room inside and a great view out. The materials are all high-end and fit and finish were exemplary. The comfortable leather seats are both heated and ventilated. They’re bolstered just enough to keep you in place when driving enthusiastically but are still easy to get into and out of. Like in the G90 the seat belts pretension when you start driving, as if your mom was checking to make sure you were safely buckled in. A lot of carmakers rely on a single controller to scroll through endless menu’s, but Genesis uses the old school approach of using lots and lots of buttons. While it might seem archaic to some, we have to admit that we actually prefer it to menu-scrolling controllers. It’s simpler in practice, especially while on the move. The stereo sounds incredible. We couldn’t fault the sat-nav for anything – The maps were easy to read and helpful. The heads-up display on the driver’s windshield means you rarely have to take your eyes off the road.
The backseat, while lacking the superior legroom of the G90, is just as luxurious, with heated and ventilated leather seating, and sunshade controls. The panoramic skylight brightens the interior space immensely and gives backseat passengers a nice view of the sky to complement the view out the side windows. It helps the backseat feel more open and less claustrophobic.
The engine in our test car is the same 3.3L turbo V6 that we had in the G90. It makes 365hp and 367 lb-ft of torque. The torque comes on early and remains most of the way to redline. Impressive in the G90 AWD, it’s downright potent in the lighter, smaller G80 Sport AWD. The car shoots to 60mph in around four seconds and 100mph follows in only a few seconds after that. Rated at 16mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, we found ourselves averaging between 16 and 20 mpg but that was mostly due to our heavy right foot prodding the engine into action. Also available in the G80 Sport are a naturally-aspirated 3.8L V6 and a 5.0L V8. All engine options are available with either AWD or RWD.
The transmission is an 8-speed automatic that works invisibly behind the scenes unless you’re in Sport mode. In Sport mode, the transmission works to keep you in the engine’s broad torque band and ready to rev. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel that work acceptably, but the automatic transmission better fits the car’s character.
What Genesis refers to as the “CDC sport suspension” does a fantastic job of managing the opposing goals of a soft, luxurious ride and sharp handling in corners. Where the G90 would fall apart on sinuous back roads, the G80 Sport eagerly dives into corners and responds to aggressive driving while absorbing the bumps. It’s very impressive. Even more impressive is how quickly the large “sport brakes” slow the 4800 lb car down. No matter how fast we were going, the brakes were more than up to the task of stopping the car RIGHT now.
Comfortable in any situation, downright soft and cosseting, it’s a pleasure to drive as a daily driver. But get the itch to misbehave, throw it into a corner, and it not only surprises you with it’s composure but encourages you to do it again. Sport sedans are usually either sport-oriented or luxury-oriented and very few can play both roles equally well. The Genesis G80 Sport can pull it off.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed with both the Genesis G90 and now the G80 Sport. While they lack the historical pedigree that many European cars have, if they maintain this level of quality for the foreseeable future, they could develop an excellent reputation that will serve just as well. Both cars are great values, sharp looking, comfortable, and luxurious. With two winners right out of the gate, we’re particularly eager to see what Genesis brings to market next.