2018 Genesis G80 Sport most certainly delivers.
With the introduction of the Lexus LS 400 in 1989, Toyota proved that a Japanese car company could build a world-class luxury sedan. Almost 20 years later, Hyundai debuted its Genesis sedan and, given all the awards the car won, proved the same could be achieved by a South Korean automaker.
Following Lexus, which has become a respected member of the luxury community with a full line of models to compete with European and American brands, Hyundai has designs to grow the Genesis name, including an aggressive expansion of its model lineup. Having put its new G90 and G80 sedans on sale late last year, Genesis Motors Canada has just debuted the G70 sport sedan for the 2018 model year, and a line of upscale crossovers is also in the works.
The other thing Genesis Motors Canada (GMC? No, that’s taken!) has done is overhaul the sales and pricing structure for its cars, announcing the industry’s first all-inclusive, transparent pricing. This approach includes delivery and destination charges, scheduled maintenance, satellite radio subscriptions and navigation map updates. The pricing model also incorporates “Genesis at Home” concierge-style service by which customers can request a representative and vehicle come to them for a test drive and conclude their purchase contract in the comfort of their home or office. This also includes an owner having their vehicle picked up for service, being left a courtesy vehicle, and having their car returned when complete.
Yet, all this means next to nothing if the cars are not competitive. Fortunately, if going by the G80 is an indication, this most emphatically is not the case. The model in question is the new-for-2018 Sport, featuring a powerful new 3.3-litre turbocharged V6, as well as some sport performance upgrades. Unique 19-inch wheels, genuine carbon-fibre interior trim, leather sport seats and a unique steering wheel are just some of the exclusive design features that set it apart from the other G80s.
The smooth-running, 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.3-L V6 is a nice in-between complement to the normally aspirated, 3.8-L V6 with 311 hp found in the G80 Luxury and Technology, and the G80 Ultimate’s 420-hp, 5.0-L V8. The boosted V6 is paired with a sport-tuned eightspeed automatic transmission and feeds power to all four wheels courtesy of Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheeldrive system.
If all that has a ring of familiarity to it, it’s because the Sport’s primary competition — think Audi A6, BMW 540i xDrive and Mercedes E 400 4Matic — more or less follow the same formula. Now consider this: the $62,000 Sport is anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 less expensive than the Teutonic trio and puts out at least 25 more horsepower. Bookending the Germans are such rivals as the Lexus GS 350 AWD and the Jaguar XF S; the GS is less expensive but less powerful than the G80 Sport, and the XF is more expensive and more powerful.
Still, the aforementioned cars are well-established players in the mid-size premium sedan segment (one could also throw cars from Volvo, Cadillac, Lincoln and Maserati into the mix) and the Genesis (as a brand, not a model) is an interloper. So what else does the G80 Sport bring to the fight?
Continuing on the performance theme, there’s an upgraded adaptive suspension system for improved driving dynamics and better bodymotion control, plus larger brakes, with 14.2-inch ventilated discs and four-piston monoblock brake calipers up front, and 13-inch ventilated discs with single-piston floating brake calipers at the rear. And there’s the driver-selectable Intelligent Drive Mode that allows the choice of three distinct modes: Eco, Normal or Sport. Personally, I found Eco took too much out of the G80, Normal was acceptable for just noodling around town, and Sport was the pre- ferred mode for acceleration or tackling curvier stretches of road.
Although the sedan displays sufficient verve to live up to the Sport appellation, it would be even better if it were not so damn heavy. The Sport weighs a porky 2,120 kilograms, which is almost 300 kg more than the BMW 540i xDrive and some 250 kg to the plus side of the Mercedes E 400 4Matic. Its heftiness is felt in every corner with every turn of the steering wheel. While the G80 Sport is a great long-distance cruiser, the car needs a more aluminum-intensive strategy if it wants to compete with the big boys as a proper sport sedan.
On the luxury side, the G80 takes a back seat to no car in its class. Speaking of which, legroom front and rear is generous — a full-sized family of four have plenty of stretch-out room. Amenities abound; all modern conveniences typical of the premium segment are in place and the various but- tons and controls are intuitively laid out.
The same applies to the centrestack touch screen, though the graphics for the navigation system could be more detailed. The driver and front passenger sport seats are both heated and ventilated, supplemented with additional torso and thigh bolstering for long-distance comfort.
Safety is equally well covered: all 2018 G80s come standard with driver aids such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert and a multiview camera system. All models also receive LED headlights with adaptive cornering, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Certainly the overall design of the sedan is handsome and well proportioned. Yet there’s a certain generic “European-ness” to its shape. I see elements of Jaguar, Volvo and BMW within its profile and character lines. Not bad company, admittedly, but as the Genesis brand matures, I would like to see more distinct elements celebrating its Asian roots.
Notwithstanding the weight issue, the G80 Sport is a superior effort from Hyundai, and that’s without the aggressive all-included pricing and the added services. Will it be enough to pry Mercedes and BMW owners from their seats? Probably not, since the Genesis name still lacks cachet. Those looking to move up from more mainstream Asian and domestic brands, though, now have another name to add to their shopping list.
Overview: Redesigned large sporty sedan
Pros: Smooth, comfortable, roomy, well priced
Cons: Heavy, Genesis brand has minimal cachet Value for money: Very good What I would change: Put it on a diet How I would spec it: As is
2018 Genesis G80 Sport.