Home Reviews 2021 Genesis G80: Nearly a Masterpiece

2021 Genesis G80: Nearly a Masterpiece

The Genesis G80 has been wholly refreshed for the 2021 model year, sharing a platform with its new SUV brother, the Genesis GV80. A relatively young sub-brand of Hyundai, Genesis is finding its ethos, as well as its place in an ever-growing market of affordable luxury options. 

Let’s dive in to the Genesis G80, specifically in my case, the 2.5T Advanced in Gold Coast Silver. Price as tested is a hair under $57,000 and I think this is one of the best bargains for optimum luxury at an attainable price. 

SwerveAutos Score: 79/100

Styling  8/10

Again, this is all-new. Genesis is soul-searching for their brand design, and I think they’ve struck a good balance with the G80. The M3 platform (yes that’s the actual name…) is shared between the G80 and GV80, and they both share much of the same styling. They’re elegant and classy, but also embracing the technology required of modern luxury cars. The styling is derived from the “Hanok”, which is a traditional Korean house, though I don’t see many obvious ties.

Believe it or not, there is a sedan behind that grill. It’s big, bold, and aggressive. Perhaps it is a big too big, but I could look at it without cringing, which I can’t say about a lot of modern grills, such as Lexus. Within the grill is the radar, which is dressed to attempt to match, but doesn’t always blend in. The GV80 was able to incorporate it lower and more out of sight. To the sides of the grill are the new dual-LED headlights, lined with daytime running LED bars. This sense of LED duality continues along the side of the car, with the bold side-marker turn signals. They light up the lane next to you at night, almost distractingly so, but they’re definitely a unique trait as opposed to the common turn-signals integrated into mirrors. You also notice the 19” alloy wheels with a spider-web style spoke design. I wouldn’t normally pay any attention to these, but they somehow suit the car as a whole, and the muted matte chrome looks good with the Gold Coast Silver paint. 

Around back, we have a sweeping trunk accent, almost like a built-in integrated spoiler. It’s subtle, and one of the most beautiful elements of this car. This is perhaps the closest tie to the Hanok styling, as the roofs of the traditional architecture typically sweep upwards at the ends. Below that is another pair of dual LED lights, this time the tail/brake/turn lights. The continued LED duality all around the car is a great cohesive design choice, and I’m looking forward to Genesis following through in other models. 8 out of 10 for styling.

Interior 9/10

The interior is somewhat of a masterpiece. Material choices feel every bit as premium as you would expect, with matte wood accents, plenty of leather, and most touch points being a matte metallic finish, contoured almost like a steel golf ball. This G80 has obsidian black leather and an open-pore real wood accent, but you can vary the colors of interior quite a bit. 

The screens are another very noticeable feature, and the cherry on top in my experience. The large middle infotainment screen is 14.5” diagonal, but most of that is sheer width. It’s not tall, but plenty wide to provide a lot of side-by-side content. The default home screen is a beautiful panorama, dynamically changing based on weather, location, and it gradually fades into the navigation screen next to it. It’s a beautiful and elegant design, my favorite screen in the industry at this time. 

The center console has notable dials, but not for volume or climate control. The large, flattened one is a rotating crown, similar to that of an Apple Watch, with a touchpad in the center. This gives additional input options to the infotainment. Behind it is the dial for drive selection, left for R, right for D, and half-click either way back to N. Above it is the climate control, where you are met with more dials and metallic contact points, which control the multi-zone climate. The rear has their own zone for automatic climate and heated seats as well, though their controls for seats are in the center arm-rest…good luck if you have 5 occupants. All in all, an extremely impressive interior at 9 out of 10.

Performance 6/10

Honestly, I was not expecting much from this 2.5L turbo i4. But for the displacement, it gives an impressive 300hp, and 311 lb-ft. torque. It’s surprisingly enough to propel over 4,200 pounds of sedan to any speed at a decent click. You can opt for the bigger 3.5L twin-turbo V6. This will grant you 375hp and 391 lb-ft. torque, but cost an additional 220 pounds.  Either engine is mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

The M3 platform is made for RWD and AWD, and either engine can be had with either drivetrain. In my case, it was AWD, but there weren’t many opportunities to fully test it. I did try to get a little loose on a dirt road and it did feel very controlled and balanced. I found the transmission quick enough, but not immediate. It’s more than adequate for basic driving, but if you are wanting the immediacy of a DCT then this may not suit your lifestyle. Handling was also decent, not incredibly performance minded, but rather comfort-focused. Performance is a 6 out of 10 all things considered.

Practicality 6/10

Practicality is always hard to evaluate, because it can be fairly subjective on an infinite scale. I had to dock the Genesis a few points due to the relatively poor fuel economy, especially for the “economic 4 cylinder turbo”. It’s certainly not a gas-guzzling V8, but being over two tons weighs on the engine practicality. The trunk is fine, though at 13.1 cubic feet, it certainly pails in comparison against many other sedans. The flip-side, however, is ample room in the rear of the cabin, which I would choose over a giant trunk if given the preference. 6 out of 10 overall in practical sense.

Comfort 8/10

The Genesis is absolutely comfortable, in both front and rear seating. The leather is nice to the touch, and the heated and ventilated seats along with the heated steering wheel were excellent creature comfort features. 3 zone climate control and heated rear seats also added to the entirety of “a nice place to be”. The driver and passenger seats are heavily adjustable, featuring 12-way electric adjustment. If you opt for the Prestige package you get the “Ergo Motion” seat for an extra level of treatment. The ride is also very smooth and quiet, as Genesis focused on the everyday comfort perspective rather than pursue better performance handling. I feel comfortable settling on an excellent 8 out of 10.

Tech 8/10

Using the available technology was a highlight of the G80, for the most part. The large rotary dial required a bit of a learning curve, but once mastered, made it extremely easy to navigate the menus, including scrolling through touch-points of Apple CarPlay. I was a bit overwhelmed with all the input options, between rotating the dial, using the touchpad, or clicking the dial’s edges, and confusingly not every gesture worked in every situation. Worst case scenario, you can always reach for the touchscreen to give it obvious input, but it’s a heck of a reach.

The screens were both visually beautiful and clearly laid out. Unfortunately, you don’t get the 3D Gauge Cluster that is available on the GV80, but it’s still a well-sorted cluster with partially digital dynamic content. The main screen allows for the full width experience of Apple CarPlay, which is built for landscape orientations, and it even leaves room on the side for weather or other micro-apps. That being said, I loved the default home screen so much that it was often where I left it. Wireless CarPlay would have been a nice addition, as well as a Qi charger, but those are minor discrepancies and leave a nice score of 8 out of 10.

Connected Services 8/10

Genesis offers a plethora of connected services, including capability to control your car with Google Assistant or Alexa or the Genesis app. You can trigger remote start, remote locking/unlocking doors, and even share controls with additional drivers. There is also a “Genesis Driving Score” which can be monitored with your account, and even improve insurance rates through select carriers. You also have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, albeit once again, not wireless. In a connected world, the Genesis tries to keep up the pace, and I think it easily deserves an 8 out of 10. 

Active Safety 9/10

Genesis offers a plethora of safety features, starting with over 10 airbags. You’ll also find forward and blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance, and safe exit assist. The adaptive cruise control was one of my favorites in any car, particularly from the standpoint of driver attention warning. It wasn’t a 5-second alarm, but rather a trustworthy minute, maybe more, of driving itself before beckoning for your control. You of course should remain alert and keep your hands on the wheel, but you don’t have to constantly jiggle the wheel when you’re on a straightaway to keep the system happy. 

Safety systems are standard across all trims, but another reason to opt for the high end Prestige package is for the surround view monitor and remote smart parking assist. I found the lack of 360 camera on my Advanced-package option to be disappointing, and the remote smart parking assist allows you to move the car forward and backwards with the key, to pull itself out of a tight space. But even my “plebeian” Advanced G80 gave plenty in the realm of safety, supplying an excellent score of 9 out of 10.

Value 8/10

When we first laid eyes on it, I asked my wife to guess the price. She said $105K. Because she isn’t an “automotive enthusiast”, that could validate the claim that this is a tremendous value in the eye of essentially anyone. I myself expected $75K and was pleasantly surprised to see the price tag. Though I would option mine for the Prestige package, an additional $3,750, it would still keep it below a $60K MSRP. The V6 would add another $8K, which could be worth it depending on your point of view, but I was pleasantly surprised by the capability of the 4-cylinder turbo. The interior, even in standard package form, is absolutely elegant and looks double its price point. I am happy to evaluate the overall value at 8 out of 10.

Editors Influence 9/10

I was honestly not eager to experience this car, though that was subconsciously out of ignorance. I was transformed after a few days, into a true fan of Genesis. It was a pleasure to drive, with excellent driver aids and a tremendous quality interior. Even the lowest performance power plant was plenty capable, even in the canyon roads above a mile in altitude. It didn’t have the color, the package, the wheels, or even the engine I would have hoped for, but I was constantly left speechless. If it had been optioned in every way, the total score could have approached an A, which is a grade I almost can’t imagine giving to a car. I will now be keeping an eye on Genesis, and I hope to experience all of their models. I’m sold… giving a personal influence of 9 out of 10. 

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