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Genesis GV80 2020 review

The Genesis GV80 was penned by the same man who brought the world the Lamborghini Murcielago.
EXPERT RATING
8.1
The Genesis GV80 has style on its side, but there's plenty of substance to the Korean brand's first ever luxury SUV. It'll be competing with some big-name established players in this tough-fought section of the market, so does it do enough to convinced some rusted-on buyers to think outside of the German or Japanese box? Read on to find out.

The Genesis GV80 is a brand new nameplate for the fledgling Hyundai-owned Korean luxury brand, and we went to its home country for a chance to get our first sample of what it will be like.

On a global scale, it’s arguably the most important car from the Genesis brand to date. It’s a large SUV, with demand proportional to its size in premium brand-hungry markets across the board.

Indeed, the all-new Genesis GV80 2020 model range will arrive in Australia later this year to take on some long-established hallmarks of the luxury SUV market, including the Range Rover Sport, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Lexus RX

With an array of powertrains, the choice of two- or four-wheel drive, and the choice of five or seven seats, the ingredients are promising. But is the 2020 Genesis GV80 any good? Let’s find out…

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

If you don’t find the GV80 interesting in terms of its design, then you may need to head to the optometrist. It’s not conventionally beautiful, you might argue, but it certainly looks different to most of the established players in the market, and that stands for a lot when you’re trying to make a strong first impression.

  • The GV80 looks different to most of the established players in the market. The GV80 looks different to most of the established players in the market.
  • The GV80 is definitely interesting in terms of its design. The GV80 is definitely interesting in terms of its design.
  • There are bold character lines that run down the flanks of the car.

There are bold character lines that run down the flanks of the car.
  • The bold grille, split-look headlights and sculpted front bumper are shapely and near-intimidating to behold. The bold grille, split-look headlights and sculpted front bumper are shapely and near-intimidating to behold.
  • The back-end gets a twin-light finish.
The back-end gets a twin-light finish.

The bold grille, split-look headlights and sculpted front bumper are shapely and near-intimidating to behold, while there are also bold character lines that run down the flanks of the car.

The tidy glasshouse tapers towards the rear, and the back-end gets its own twin-light finish, which is familiar from the not-for-Australia G90 limousine. It’s striking.

The interior has some beautiful elements to it’s design, with extremely high-quality craftsmanship. The interior has some beautiful elements to it’s design, with extremely high-quality craftsmanship.

And the interior has some beautiful elements to it’s design, not to mention extremely high-quality craftsmanship. Yes, there are some items that stick out as being picked from the Hyundai catalogue, but you’re not going to confuse this with a Tucson or Santa Fe inside. Don’t believe me? Check out the interior images to see what I’m talking about.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

It’s a large SUV, but don’t go thinking you’re getting people-mover levels of practicality. It is definitely pragmatic, but there are elements that left us thinking that the presence of the car may have taken precedence over pragmatism.

The third row, for instance, is going to be too tight for anyone approaching adult male size like me (182cm), as I struggled to get comfy back there. Younger kids or smaller adults will be fine, but headroom, toe room and kneeroom could all be better (and it is in a Volvo XC90 or Mercedes GLE seven-seater). Getting in and out isn’t that easy, as the gap is smaller than some rivals due to its lower roofline.

The third-row in the test vehicles we sampled had electric folding seats, which I find gimmicky. They take a long time to raise and lower, though I guess doing things at the press of a button rather than using physical force is something that luxury car buyers might appreciate. 

The boot space with seven seats upright is enough for a couple of smaller bags, though we haven’t got a confirmed luggage capacity figure from Genesis yet in that configuration. With five seats in play, it’s understood the boot capacity is 727 litres (VDA), which is quite good.

Adult occupant space in the second row is okay, but not exceptional. If you have occupants in the third row, you’ll need the second row set to allow them space, and in that configuration my knees were hard up against the driver’s seat (also set for my height). Watch the video for a better indication of what I’m getting at, but you can also slide that second row fore and aft in a 60:40 split.

Adult occupant space in the second row is okay, but not exceptional. Adult occupant space in the second row is okay, but not exceptional.

In the second row you’ll find the amenities you’d expect, like cup holders between the seats, map pockets, air vents, bottle holsters in the doors and power outlets plus USB ports. It’s perfectly fine in that regard.

The front of the cabin is really pleasant, with a neat design that makes it feel quite broad. The seats are beautifully comfortable, and the driver’s seat in our test cars had an air-pocket massage system which was very nice. These test models also had seat heating and cooling, multi-zone climate and plenty of other niceties besides.

The front of the cabin is pleasant, with a neat design that makes it feel quite broad. The front of the cabin is pleasant, with a neat design that makes it feel quite broad.

But it was the 14.5-inch media screen that stood out, with a crisp display that is both touch-capable and also can be controlled by the rotary dial controller between the seats, and there are voice controls as well. It’s not as simple to use as, say, a Santa Fe’s media system, but it does have a lot more features, including an awesome augmented reality sat nav system that uses the front camera to illustrate which way you should be going in realtime. It’s very impressive tech, better even than the same system employed in Mercedes models we’ve tested in Europe. And the tech is expected to be offered in Australia, which is good news, too.

The 14.5-inch media screen stood out, with a crisp display that's touch-capable. The 14.5-inch media screen stood out, with a crisp display that's touch-capable.

There are all the connectivity things you’d expect, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus there are quirky elements like ‘natural ambience sounds’ for you to tune out to. Ever wondered what it’s like to sit by an open fire while driving to your destination? Or to hear the sound of feet crunching through the snow while you’re on your way to the beach? Those are just some of the weird bits you’ll find if you delve deep into the GV80’s stereo system.

Now, if you’re wondering about the dimensions - I have mentioned ‘large SUV’ several times now - the Genesis GV80 spans 4945mm long (on a 2955mm wheelbase), 1975mm wide and 1715mm tall. It’s built on a new rear-drive platform shared with the upcoming replacement for the current G80, which is also likely to be sold in Australia later in 2020.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Nothing to see here. Actually, wait there… we might be able to hazard some guesses.

Genesis hasn’t revealed pricing or specifications for Australia as yet, but the brand has a history of pricing its cars assertively and equipping them very well.

We’d think that, with that in mind, there’ll be a few trim levels available, and at the entry point of the range the GV80 could well undercut the cheapest BMW X5 or Mercedes GLE by tens of thousands of dollars.

Th GV80 comes standard with LED headlights. Th GV80 comes standard with LED headlights.

Think a potential start price around $75,000, ranging through to a top-spec variant eclipsing the six-figure mark. 

You can expect lengthy standard equipment lists across the line-up, with leather, LEDs, big wheels, big screens and lots of safety gear all expected to be fitted range-wide.

But you’ll have to wait and see what Genesis Australia does with the exact pricing and specs closer to the GV80’s launch in Australia in the second-half of 2020.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

There are three engines that will be offered globally, and all three powertrains will also be sold in Australia, too - though it’s not yet clear if all three will be available from launch.

The entry-level engine is the 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo, with 226kW of power. The torque figure for this engine has not yet been disclosed.

The next step up the engine range will be the 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 with 283kW and 529Nm. This engine is the next-generation version of the 3.3-litre turbo V6 currently found in the G70 sedan (272kW/510Nm).

There are three engines that will be offered globally, and all three powertrains will also be sold in Australia. There are three engines that will be offered globally, and all three powertrains will also be sold in Australia.

And finally there’s the 3.0-litre in-line turbo-diesel six-cylinder, which is said to punch out 207kW and 588Nm. This is the engine we sampled in Korea, as the petrol versions weren’t available to drive.

All models have an eight-speed automatic transmission, built in-house by Hyundai. There’s will be the choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive for the diesel and top-end petrol models, but it’s not clear if the base engine will be available with both.

Notably missing from the line-up is any hybrid powertrain, which Genesis chief William Lee said wasn’t a priority for this model. That’ll definitely hamper its appeal for some buyers.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The official combined cycle fuel use for each of the powertrains in Australia is still to be determined, but the Korean-spec diesel model we drove is claimed to use 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

On test, we saw the instrument cluster displaying between 8.6L/100km and 11.2L/100km, depending on the car and who had been driving. So bank on 10.0L/100km or so for the diesel. Not super frugal. 

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Without driving the car in Aussie conditions - where it will have its Hyundai-expert-tuned driving manners honed to suit local desires - it’s hard to say whether this model lives up to the best in the class. But the signs are promising.

The ride, for instance, is very good, especially considering the models we spent most of our time in were fitted with enormous 22-inch wheels. There’s also a forward-facing road-reading camera, which can adapt the damper tune if it thinks there could be a pothole or speedhump coming up. 

The engine is super quiet, nicely refined and excellent in its mid-range response. The engine is super quiet, nicely refined and excellent in its mid-range response.

Our drive in and around Seoul and Incheon showed that this tech worked well, as there were bumps that would have seen a few clenched sphincters in other SUVs if they’d been fitted with rims this big. But the GV80 rode confidently and comfortably, which is an important consideration for a luxury SUV buyer.

The steering, too, as accurate enough, though it hardly feels lithe or nimble - the AWD models top out at about 2300kg, so that’s to be expected. But the steering proved responsive and predictable, and far better than what we’ve seen straight out of the box from Korean models in the past. It’ll be tuned to suit local tastes, too, but we hope the Aussie team doesn’t just make the steering overly heavy, as has been the case in some other locally-tuned cars. Light steering is nice when you’re parking, and the GV80 currently ticks that box. 

The steering proved responsive and predictable. The steering proved responsive and predictable.

But it was the diesel engine that impressed most on the drive program. That, and the smoothness of the eight-speed automatic transmission.

It’s a big compliment to say this, but if you put a blindfolded German executive in the GV80 and asked them to guess what car they’re in just by the engine, they’d likely guess BMW or Audi. It’s a super smooth straight-six, offering commendable pulling power, even if it’s not a beacon of outright potency.

The engine is super quiet, nicely refined and excellent in its mid-range response, and there’s very little low-rev turbo lag or stop-start grumbling to complain about it. The transmission is smooth, too, even if the rotary dial controller isn’t one of your humble tester’s favourite parts of the cabin.

The quietude of the cabin is another huge plus, with the company’s active noise cancelling tech clearly helping to limit the amount of road noise intrusion in the cabin. We can’t wait to see whether it holds its own on Aussie coarse-chip roads when the GV80 launches Down Under.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

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

At the time of writing, there’s no 2020 ANCAP crash test score for the Genesis GV80, but by our estimations it will have the equipment and technology to achieve the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test rating because it’s stacked with safety stuff.

There are 10 airbags including dual front, front and rear (second-row) side, curtain, driver’s knee and front centre airbags (this one deploys between the front seats to prevent head clash). We’ve asked the local Genesis team to confirm if the curtain airbags extend to the third row, and will update this story once we're sure.

Further, there is advanced safety tech by the bucketload, including advanced auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a new smart cruise control system with machine learning - an Artificial Intelligence-based system that can apparently learn the behaviour of the driver and implement a level of autonomous driving when cruise control is engaged, as well as automated lane changing when the driver indicates, driver attention monitoring with fatigue alert, merging assistance with blind-spot monitoring (including a blind-spot view monitor that displays in the instrument cluster using the side cameras, when fitted), rear cross-traffic alert, and a forward collision avoidance system that can arm the car if a potential T-bone accident is predicted.

Of course there’s a reversing camera and a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors and more. There’ll be ISOFIX child-seat points and top-tether restraints for baby seats, and there’s a back-seat occupant reminder system, too.

We’ll let you know the full details of Aussie-spec cars when it’s available, but expect a strong standard gear list locally.

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

If the Genesis GV80 follows the current path set by the brand in Australia, customers will get the best luxury car warranty available - a five-year/unlimited kilometre plan.

That’s backed by the same five-year cover for servicing, which is at no cost. That’s right, you get free servicing for five years/75,000km. That’s pretty enticing, and Genesis will even collect and return the car to you at home or work once the maintenance has been completed. And if you need access to a car when your GV80 is being serviced, you can have a loan vehicle, too.

If the GV80 follows the current path set by Genesis in Aus, customers will get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan. If the GV80 follows the current path set by Genesis in Aus, customers will get a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan.

The Genesis model range is also backed by five years of roadside assistance at no cost. 

In short, this is the gold standard in the luxury class for ownership.

Verdict

More than just a statement in style, the Genesis GV80 goes deep on substance, too. It’s a feature-packed luxury SUV that will no doubt be positioned as a value-heavy offering when it arrives in Australia in 2020.

We can’t wait to see how the company positions the GV80 locally, because this SUV is going to be the brand’s most important model. 

EXPERT RATING
8.1
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership10
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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