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Genesis G80 2021 review

The Genesis G80 cuts a striking figure. But does it even matter? Large sedans are so passé... right?
EXPERT RATING
8.4
The Genesis G80 could be one of the best new cars to hit the market in years, but will that matter? Being a large luxury sedan starting north of eighty grand, it's hardly going to attract the attention of many buyers. However, its appearance, technology and powertrains could be enough to make some buyers sit up and take notice.

If you know the history of the Genesis brand in Australia, you probably know that the vehicle that started it all was actually known as the Hyundai Genesis. 

And that model later became known as the Genesis G80. But now, there’s a new Genesis G80 - this is it, and it’s all new. Everything about it is new.

So really, the, er, genesis of the Genesis brand has come full circle. But with the market moving away from large luxury sedans towards high-spec high-riding SUVs, does the all-new G80 offer something worth considering when you compare it to its rivals - the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes E-Class?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

According to Genesis Australia, compared to its rivals the G80 offers 15 per cent more value based on its pricing, while also including 20 per cent more in features.

There are two versions of the Genesis G80 at launch - the 2.5T, which is priced at $84,900 plus on-road costs (MSRP - but including luxury car tax, LCT), and the 3.5T at $99,900 (MSRP). See the engines section for more details on what else splits the two models, aside from price and specs.

The 2.5T has 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber, locally-tuned ride and handling, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start with remote start tech, a power boot lid, rear door shades, heated and cooled front seats, 12-way electric adjustment front seats (driver's with memory settings), and full leather trim with wood finishes.

Inside is a panoramic sunroof. (2.5T variant shown) Inside is a panoramic sunroof. (2.5T variant shown)

Standard on all grades is a 14.5-inch touchscreen media display with sat nav featuring augmented reality and live traffic updates, plus the system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio, a 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, and there's a 12.0-inch head-up display (HUD), and dual-zone climate control by way of a haptic touchscreen controller. 

Standard across the range is the 14.5-inch touchscreen media display. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) Standard across the range is the 14.5-inch touchscreen media display. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

The 3.5T - priced at $99,900 (MSRP) - adds a few extras in addition to the 2.5T, and we're not just talking about horsepower. The 3.5T gains 20-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, a bigger brake package, larger fuel tank (73L vs 65L), and "Road-Preview adaptive electronic suspension" that has been tuned to Australian desires.

The 3.5T wears 20-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The 3.5T wears 20-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

Both G80 grades are also available with an optional Luxury Package, which costs $13,000. It adds: a 3D-effect 12.3-inch fully digital instrument display with Forward Attention Warning (a camera system that monitors the driver’s eye movement and warns if they’re looking away from the straight ahead), an "Intelligent Front Lighting System", soft close doors, Nappa leather interior trim with quilting, suede headlining and pillars, three-zone climate control, a semi-autonomous parking system and remote smart parking assist (use the key fob as a remote), rear auto braking, 18-way adjustment for the driver's seat including massage function, heated and cooled rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, power rear window shade, and twin 9.2-inch touchscreens for rear occupant entertainment.

  • The Luxury Package adds three-zone climate control. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The Luxury Package adds three-zone climate control. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)
  • Back passengers get twin 9.2-inch touchscreens. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) Back passengers get twin 9.2-inch touchscreens. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

Curious about colours for the Genesis G80 (or colors, depending where you’re reading this)? Well, there are 11 different exterior colours to choose from. There are nine gloss/mica/metallic shades at no extra cost, while the two matte paint options ask an additional $2000.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

The Genesis brand is all about design. The company says it wants to be seen as “audacious, progressive, and distinctly Korean”, and that “design is the brand” for the newcomer.

There’s certainly no argument that the brand has developed a design language that is distinct and standout - suffice to say that you’re not going to confuse a Genesis G80 with any of its mainstream luxury competitors. Note, we’re going to use some designery language below.

The front-end’s striking look is all apparently inspired by the Genesis badge, which features a crest shape (as mirrored in the huge ‘G Matrix’ mesh grille finish), while the quad lights are inspired by the wings of the badge. 

  • The quad lights are inspired by the wings of the Genesis badge. (2.5T variant shown) The quad lights are inspired by the wings of the Genesis badge. (2.5T variant shown)
  • You’re not going to confuse a Genesis G80 with any of its mainstream luxury competitors. (2.5T variant shown) You’re not going to confuse a Genesis G80 with any of its mainstream luxury competitors. (2.5T variant shown)

Those lighting treatments flow from the front end to the side, where you see the theme repeated in the side indicator lights. There’s a single ‘parabolic’ line that runs front to rear, while the lower part of the body features a bold chrome lining that is said to show power and progress from the engine towards the rear wheels.

The rear end also gets the quad light look, while the bold branded lettering stands out on the boot lid. There’s a crest-shaped boot opening button, and the exhaust outlets also carry the same superhero’s chest motif.

It pulls off its size very well, and this is no small vehicle - in fact, it’s a smidge larger than the existing G80 model - it’s longer by 5mm, wider by 35mm and sits 15mm lower to the ground. The exact measurements are: 4995mm long (on an identical-to-before 3010mm wheelbase), 1925mm wide and 1465mm tall. 

  • The front-end’s striking look is all apparently inspired by the Genesis badge. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The front-end’s striking look is all apparently inspired by the Genesis badge. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)
  • The rear end gets the quad light look. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The rear end gets the quad light look. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

That bigger, lower body translates to improved cabin space - and there’s an interesting design treatment inside the car, too, which is said to have drawn upon the “beauty of white space” concept, as well as suspension bridges and Korean contemporary architecture.

Take a look at the interior pictures to see if you can spot the inspiration, but in the next section, we’ll go through the cabin space and practicality.

  • There is some serious wow factor in the cabin of the Genesis G80. (2.5T variant shown) There is some serious wow factor in the cabin of the Genesis G80. (2.5T variant shown)
  • Both G80 grades are also available with an optional Luxury Package, which costs $13,000. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) Both G80 grades are also available with an optional Luxury Package, which costs $13,000. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

There is some serious wow factor in the cabin of the Genesis G80, and not only because of the way the brand has approached the balance between technology and luxury. It’s more to do with the array of colours and choices available.

There are four different colour themes for the leather seat trim - all G80’s have full leather seating, with leather-accented doors and dashboard trim, but if that’s not opulent enough for you, there is a choice of Nappa leather trim which sees a different quilting design on the seats, too. The four trim choices are: Obsidian Black or Vanilla Beige, both of which are teamed to Eucalyptus open pore wood trim; and there’s also Havana Brown or Forest Blue leather with Olive Ash open pore wood. If that’s still not enough, you can go for the Dune Beige two-tone finish with Olive Ash.

There are four different colour themes for the leather seat trim. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) There are four different colour themes for the leather seat trim. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

The seats are sumptuously comfortable, heated and cooled up front and standard, while the rear seats are optionally available with outboard heating and cooling, too, which is paired with a three-zone climate control system if you option the Luxury Pack. It is, however, kind of surprising that there’s no three-zone climate standard - this is supposed to be a high-end luxury car, after all.

That said, there’s good comfort and decent convenience on offer. The front cabin incorporates two cup holders between the seats, an additional cubby under the dash which has a wireless phone charger and USB ports, and there’s a large covered twin-lid centre console bin, too. The glove box is an okay size, but the door pockets are a little shallow, and you may have to lie down your water bottle as larger ones don’t quite fit.

Of course we can’t overlook the media screen and tech up front, with the infotainment unit spanning a huge 14.5 inches. It is surprisingly well integrated into the dashboard, meaning you can actually physically look over the top of it, rather than chomping into your forward vision. The system is excellent, too, and includes a split-screen layout which allows you to run the inbuilt sat nav GPS system, yet also have your smartphone mirroring running (yep, so you can run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto alongside the factory satellite navigation!). And it switches between them cleverly, too.

The front cabin incorporates two cup holders between the seats, an additional cubby under the dash. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The front cabin incorporates two cup holders between the seats, an additional cubby under the dash. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

It will take some learning to those who haven’t experienced a multifaceted screen like this one, and there are even clever things like augmented reality for the sat nav (which uses AI to show up arrows on the screen using the front-facing camera in realtime). But there’s also DAB digital radio and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

You can use it as a touchscreen or you can elect for the rotary dial controller, but to me the latter is a bit odd, as it doesn’t pop up very much and requires a bit of a fine touch. The pad on top of it allows handwriting if you prefer to fingerpaint your way to your destination - or you could just use voice control. It’s also a little weird that there are two rotary dial controllers so close to one another - you’d have to whack the G80 in reverse when you’re trying to jump a menu screen.

The 14.5-inch touchscreen media display features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The 14.5-inch touchscreen media display features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

The driver gets an excellent 12.3-inch head-up display, and there’s a part-digital dashboard in all models (with a 12.0-inch screen), while vehicles with the Luxury Pack get a nifty, if gimmicky, 3D cluster digital display. The displays are all of high resolution and quality, though I do question the touchscreen system (with haptic feedback) for the ventilation controls, and the number displays for the temperature settings are really low res comparatively.

Vehicles with the Luxury Pack get a 3D cluster digital display. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) Vehicles with the Luxury Pack get a 3D cluster digital display. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

In the rear there are smallish door pockets, map pockets, a fold-down centre armrest with cup holders and a single USB port, and in models fitted with the Luxury pack there are two touchscreens mounted on the backs of the front seats, and a controller in the middle fold-down part.

There's ample kneeroom, headroom, shoulder space and toe room in the rear. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) There's ample kneeroom, headroom, shoulder space and toe room in the rear. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

The rear seat comfort is impressive, with very good seat comfort and space for outboard occupants. I’m 182cm or 6’0” and seated behind my own driving position I had ample kneeroom, headroom, shoulder space and toe room. Three across won’t be a fun experience for whoever gets the middle spot, as the seat isn’t overly comfortable and there’s limited foot space available. But with two in the back it’s good, and even more so if you get the Luxury pack, which adds electric rear seat adjustment to the mix, among other things. 

The space behind the seats is not quite as capacious as some rivals, with 424 litres (VDA) of boot space on offer. What does that mean in real-world terms? We put in the CarsGuide luggage set - 124L, 95L and 36L hard cases - and all of them fit, but not as easily as they might have in, say, an Audi A6, which has 530L of room. For what it’s worth, there’s a space saver spare under the floor.

  • Boot space is rated at 424 litres VDA. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) Boot space is rated at 424 litres VDA. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)
  • We put in the CarsGuide luggage set and all of them fit. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) We put in the CarsGuide luggage set and all of them fit. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

There is a choice to be made in the Genesis G80 2021 launch range - four-cylinder or six-cylinder. But you can’t choose anything other than petrol power at launch, with no diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric model available. That may come later down the road, but as it stands at the time of the Australian debut, it’s not the case.

Instead the entry-level four-cylinder petrol motor is a 2.5-litre unit in the 2.5T, producing 224kW of power at 5800rpm and 422Nm of torque from 1650-4000rpm. 

The 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder makes 224kW/422Nm (2.5T variant shown) The 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder makes 224kW/422Nm (2.5T variant shown)

Need more? There’s the 3.5T, which runs a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine producing 279kW of power at 5800rpm and 530Nm of torque from 1300-4500rpm. 

Those are strong numbers, and both share a number - eight - when it comes to the gears available in each of their respective automatic transmissions. 

The twin-turbo V6 punches out 279kW/530Nm. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The twin-turbo V6 punches out 279kW/530Nm. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

However, while the 2.5T is rear-wheel drive (RWD/2WD) only, the 3.5T runs all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard. It features an adaptive torque distribution system that can apportion grunt where it’s needed depending on the circumstances. It’s rear-biased, but allows up to 90 per cent of torque to be sent to the front axle when required.

Thinking about 0-100km/h acceleration speed times for these two? There’s a bit of a gap. The 2.5T claims a 0-100 of 6.0 seconds, while the 3.5T is said to be capable of the sprint in 5.1sec.

The G80 is not rated to tow a trailer.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Fuel consumption for the Genesis G80 clearly depends on the powertrain.

The 2.5T is lighter by some 154 kilograms (1869kg vs 2023kg tare weight), and its combined cycle fuel use claim reflects that, at 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

The 3.5T’s big six likes a drink on paper at least, with a claim of 10.7L/100km. Genesis has even fit the 3.5T with a bigger fuel tank capacity than the 2.5T (73L vs 65L). 

Both models need 95RON premium unleaded fuel at a minimum, and neither have fuel saving engine start-stop tech that most European competitors have had for decades.

We didn’t get a chance to do our own figures on the launch at the fuel pump, but the displayed average shown in the two different models was close - 9.3L/100km for the four-pot and 9.6L/100km for the V6.

Interestingly, neither engine has start-stop technology to save fuel in traffic. 

What's it like to drive?   8/10

This feels like a proper luxury car. Even, maybe, a bit like an old school luxury car, one that isn’t developed to be a point-to-point handling maestro, but rather one that is made to be comfortable, quiet, cruisy and cool to look at.

In the 2.5T the suspension tune, compliance and comfort, and way it steers are all very predictable and learnable – it comes across as a really easy car to drive.

The steering is precise and accurate and easy to judge and also really nicely waited in the 2.5T. (2.5T variant shown) The steering is precise and accurate and easy to judge and also really nicely waited in the 2.5T. (2.5T variant shown)

Plus the four-cylinder engine – while lacking a bit of theatre in terms of the sound it makes – is strong in terms of the power and torque available to the driver. There is immense pulling power through the mid range, and it really does accelerate with a level of tenacity. It doesn’t feel heavy either, and being rear-wheel drive, has a nice balance to it, too, and the Michelin tyres offer tremendous grip.

The transmission is really quite good – in Comfort mode it’s very well behaved and shifts as you would expect, aside from the occasional moment where it’s in a higher gear in order to save a bit of fuel in – but that’s a pretty rare occurrence.

The G80 3.5T will race from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The G80 3.5T will race from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

In Sport mode the drive experience is mostly very good in the 2.5T, although I was left wanting for a firmer suspension tune and damping control in that mode. The lack of adaptive dampers is probably the biggest shortcoming of the 2.5T.

The brake pedal progress and feel is really good, inspiring confidence in the way the brakes behave, it’s very easy to judge how much pressure you need and it pulls up extremely quickly when you need it to.

The 3.5T with the Custom drive mode set was the best drive of the lot. (3.5T Luxury Packs variant shown) The 3.5T with the Custom drive mode set was the best drive of the lot. (3.5T Luxury Packs variant shown)

One other thing I’d call out is the safety systems are rather good, they don’t tend to override the driver too much, although the steering is a little artificial feeling when that assistant system is engaged. However when you disengage it, the steering is precise and accurate and easy to judge and also really nicely waited in the 2.5T.

The difference between the 2.5T and 3.5T is marked. The engine just offers a level of effortlessness that the 2.5 just cannot match. It’s really impressive in the way that it builds pace through the rev range in a linear but rapid fashion, and it has a really nice sound to it as well. It just feels the right fit for the car.

 The lack of adaptive dampers is probably the biggest shortcoming of the 2.5T. (2.5T variant shown) The lack of adaptive dampers is probably the biggest shortcoming of the 2.5T. (2.5T variant shown)

I think there’s an important distinction to make here: the G80 3.5T may be a very powerful large luxury sedan, but it is not a sports sedan. It may be sporty in its acceleration, claiming 5.1 seconds from 0-100, but it doesn’t handle like a sport sedan and nor is it supposed to.

It could well be that there’s a gap to fill for those who want a sportier version of the G80. Who knows what might scratch that itch. 

The G80 3.5T may be a very powerful large luxury sedan, but it is not a sports sedan. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown) The G80 3.5T may be a very powerful large luxury sedan, but it is not a sports sedan. (3.5T Luxury Pack variant shown)

Bearing that in mind, the adaptive suspension system in the 3.5T still errs on the side of softness, but again, I reckon a luxury vehicle should drive like a luxury vehicle. There’s been a tendency in recent years for every car from every luxury brand to drive like a sports car. But Genesis is obviously doing things a bit differently.

For me, the 3.5T with the Custom drive mode set - the suspension set on Sport firmness, the steering on Comfort, the engine and transmission on Smart - was the best drive of the lot.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Genesis G80 range has been developed in line with the 2020 crash test safety requirements, but at the time of launch it hasn’t been tested by EuroNCAP or ANCAP.

It has both low and high speed auto emergency braking (AEB) operational from 10km/h to 200km/h, and pedestrian and cyclist detection from 10-km/h to 85km/h. The adaptive cruise control system has stop-and-go capability, as well as lane keeping assistance (60km/h-200km/h) and lane following assist (from 0km/h to 200km/h). The adaptive cruise control system also has Machine Learning, which, using AI, can apparently learn how you prefer the car to react when using cruise control, and adapt to that.

There’s also a junction turning assist function to stop you trying to jump through unsafe gaps in traffic (works between 10km/h and 30km/h), plus blind-spot monitoring with 'Blind-Spot View Monitor', and it can intervene to stop you from driving into the path of oncoming traffic from 60km/h to 200km/h, and even halt the car if you’re about to pull out of a parallel parking space and there’s a vehicle in your blind spot (up to 3km/h). 

There is rear cross-traffic alert with vehicle detection and an emergency braking function at speeds between 0km/h and 8km/h. Plus there’s driver attention warning, auto high-beam lights, rear occupant alert and a surround view camera system.

The Luxury Pack is required to get rear AEB that detects pedestrians and objects (0km/h to 10km/h), but there are some sub-$25k models getting tech like this standard. So that’s a little disappointing. 

There are 10 airbags, comprising dual front, driver’s knee, front centre, front side, rear side, and full-length curtain airbag coverage.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Genesis says that time is the ultimate luxury, and so you need not worry about spending time going to get your car serviced.

Instead, the company offers Genesis To You, whereby it will collect your car when it’s due for service (if you’re within 70km of the maintenance location) and return it to you when it’s done. A loan car can also be left for you if you need it.

That’s part of the ownership promise from the brand, which also backs its new cars with a five-year unlimited/kilometre warranty for private buyers (five years/130,000km for fleet/hire car operators).

There’s also five years of included complimentary servicing, with service intervals set at 12 months/10,000km for both petrol models. The short intervals are the only real downfall here, and could pose a serious question for luxury hire car operators as some rivals offer up to 25,000km between services.

And buyers get five years/unlimited kilometres roadside assistance, with free map updates for the sat nav system for the first five years, too. 

Verdict

If you’re in the market for a luxury sedan that isn’t one of the mainstreamers, you really are a very specific person. Good on you for thinking outside the box, and even further outside the SUV-shaped box. 

The Genesis G80 could be the right vehicle for you, provided you’re not prioritising cutting edge electrification tech, or aggressive handling. It’s a bit of an old-school luxury model - plush, powerful, but not trying to be sporty or pretentious. The 3.5T is the pick, because it feels the best fit for this body, and it certainly offers something worth considering for the money being asked. 

EXPERT RATING
8.4
Price and features9
Design9
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership9
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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