2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD Standard Review

Affordable luxury is an understatement


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Beautiful styling inside and out, astounding attention to detail, huge interior, smooth as silk ride, competent driving manners, powerful turbo four.
Negatives: Grille size can be polarizing, infotainment controller looks better than it operates, piano black trim is a dust and fingerprint magnet.
Bottom Line: The G80 is a remarkable premium automobile that can finally compete with the Germans on their own playing field. It's luxurious even in Standard trim, stunning to look at, and truly special inside. Even the turbocharged four-cylinder is very rewarding to drive.
The G80 is all-new, and it replaces the previous G80 which was a Hyundai Genesis carryover. As good as that car was, the G80 cuts a brand new path with new underpinnings and very original styling. Although it borrows some cues from Bentley, it still looks and feels very original. The rear-wheel drive-based G80 comes in either RWD or AWD with two different engine options. We drove the rear-wheel drive version of the turbo-four engined G80 in base Standard trim. Would it strike us a premium sedan also-ran, or would we fall in love? Read ahead for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.7

 

Although our tester wasn't the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, it does have a remarkably potent 300-hp 2.5-liter turbo four, which impressed us for its power and smoothness (but not the sound). The G80 is also one of those luxury sedans that balances luxury and sport remarkably well.

Ride Quality: The ride is smooth, comfortable, and very composed. Dampening is performed with aplomb, and yet it doesn't give up much in its sportiness.

Acceleration: 0-60 for the 4-cylinder comes in a solid 5.7 seconds. There's only minor turbo lag, and then things spool up nicely. The 8-speed automatic is very good at holding gear in sport mode using the paddle shifters.

Braking: Braking feels very good with great pedal and brake progression.

Steering: The steering is on the light-ish side, but turn-in is quick. Precision and on-centeredness is also very good.

Handling: There's a small amount of body roll, but the car handles really well for a 4,200-lb+ curb weight. For something this size, it's quite agile.

Technology

9.2

 

We love the fact that the G80 relies on a lot of great physical controls for its large 14" touchscreen. The look and feel of the whole system is premium and easily crushes Lexus. We'd say it's almost as good in its operation and look as BMW and certainly better than system operation in the current Mercedes lineup.

Infotainment System: The big screen is beautiful, although the far end of the screen is hard to reach for the driver. Good thing there's a control wheel in the center console. Menus are fluid and easy to use, and the whole thing looks very upscale.

Controls: The G80 might just have some of the best overall knobs in the business. The knurling found on the stalks, steering wheel controls, gearshift knob, drive mode selector, HVAC vents, mirror adjustment, etc. are metallic and wonderful. The infotainment control wheel is a bit too large and awkward to operate, but it sure looks nice.

Styling

9.4

 

Genesis did a marvelous job of making the G80 look different from the competition without making it look weird. Certain styling elements like the headlights, taillights, and fender lights are truly original and attractive. The interior is just as, if not more, special than the exterior. For the first time, the G80 looks like it can easily keep up with the presence of the Germans. Even in Standard trim, the car is beautiful.

Front: Although we have mixed feelings about the huge grille, there's no denying the front end is distinct and handsome. The quad beam headlights look great, and the mesh pattern in the grille that extends down into the lower fascia intakes are a sophisticated touch.

Rear: This is the most attractive view of the G80. The LED taillights are some of the best we've seen, and we also adore the refined treatment of the small trunk spoiler and the tailpipes that mimic the shape of the grille.

Profile: The continuity of the lights from tip to toe with the parallel lines are flawlessly executed. The G80 is also very well proportioned. We just thought the wheels were too small on our Standard trimmed G80.

Cabin: Even without the higher end matte wood trim like the Prestige Packaged G80, the interior of the G80 is beautiful. The broad, thin dash, the unique steering wheel hub, every control knob, and the fluid door panels are wonderful to look at. Genesis paid a lot of attention to this car.

Comfort

9.6

 

The G80 is impressively large inside. Not only is there ample legroom all around, the layout of the cabin and the ergonomics make it feel truly open and airy. It eschews the bulkiness of some of the competition for a truly luxurious and subtly elegant cabin.

Front Seats: While we didn't have the quilted Nappa leather seats found in higher trim G80s, our leatherette seats were very comfortable with broad seatbacks, good bolstering, and the right amount of cushioning.

Rear Seats: 38.7 inches of rear legroom puts it at the top of its class in terms of space. It's bigger than the BMW 5-Series, the Mercedes E-Class, and the Audi A7. It's a tad smaller, however, than the Lexus ES.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Supremely quiet and well built, the G80 dispels road noise with ease. It's just too bad the engine doesn't sound better.

Visibility: Visibility all around is excellent, aided by manageable pillar thickness, big windows, and a good seating position.

Climate: The system worked very well with good air movement and quick temperature control.

Safety

9

 

Although the G80 hasn't been tested by either testing body, we're giving it a high score due to the technology and the fact that the previous G80 earned the highest marks. Furthermore, it shares the same platform as the Genesis GV80 SUV, which just earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: All G80s come with front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, lane following assist, rearview camera, forward collision warning, driver attention warning.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

7.9

 

As big as the cabin is, the trunk space isn't cavernous, unfortunately. The interior, however, does have some nice compartments to stash belongings, and the level of style inside doesn't betray its practicality.

Storage Space: The large armrest and door pockets are easy to use and access. There's also a front binnacle under the center stack with its own retractable door.

Cargo Room: Cargo room is 13.1 cubic feet, way larger than the dinky Merc E-Class but smaller than the BMW 5-Series, the Audi A6, and the Lexus ES. The trunk opening of the G80 is low and wide, making it easy to load luggage and gear.

Fuel Economy

7

 

The 2.5T has to move a fair amount of weight, but it still manages to pull off decent efficiency numbers. We drove it in Sport mode to maximize performance, sacrificing some miles in the process.

Observed: 18.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 86 miles.

Audio

8

 

Our G80 in Standard trim did not have an upgraded audio system, but it still sounded quite good. For a bargain luxury sedan price of under $50k, the G80 has pretty much what you need without going on the cheap in terms of audio quality.



Final Thoughts

We would've liked to see what a fully decked out G80 3.5T All-Wheel Drive with the Prestige Package, we were blown away by the base vehicle. Not only does it undercut the Germans, but it also provides more for far less. In terms of looks, standard equipment, technology, and comfort, nobody can hold a candle to the G80 for the price. The good thing is that nobody will think you compromised by not going with a German car. In fact, the G80 is about as stunning a luxury sedan as you can find today.
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