HYUNDAI GOES FOR HIGH END

For Hyundai’s lux­ury di­vi­sion to suc­ceed, it must com­pete, the Ge­n­e­sis G80 de­liv­ers

Ottawa Citizen - - DRIVING - BRIAN HARPER

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 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 eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and feeds power to all four wheels cour­tesy of Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive 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.

Con­tin­u­ing on the per­for­mance theme, there’s an up­graded adap­tive sus­pen­sion sys­tem for im­proved driv­ing dy­nam­ics and bet­ter body-mo­tion 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 pre­ferred 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 longdis­tance 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 but­tons 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.

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. Driv­ing.ca

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

BRIAN HARPER/DRIV­ING

The 2018 Ge­n­e­sis G80 Sport may not have the pedi­gree of Euro­pean sports sedans, but it is their equal in per­for­mance and beats them on price.

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