The Australian - Wish Magazine
It’s big , bold, luxurious – and blessedly quiet
Cooking Brussells sprouts that taste palatable, making a version of Cats that’s watchable (stage or screen, they both give me furballs), or finding a way to make Nick Kyrgios seem loveable. All of these things are impossible. In the past I would have said the same of constructing a diesel engine that doesn’t sound like a dead person suddenly snoring again. In recent years, Audi has managed to solve the diesel problem by making its cars preternaturally quiet inside, so that you can’t tell what kind of engine you have. And the clever Koreans at Genesis – yes, that’s a brand, not a band – seem to have gone almost a whole step further by producing a 3.0-litre diesel engine for their showy SUV, the arguably gorgeous GV80.
I say arguably because not everyone loves it, although it certainly sparks discussion. The issue isn’t just that the GV80 is so large that people stare it at the way they would if they saw an elephant in a city street. Nor is it merely that enormously imposing and robotic front end (personally I think it looks like a Daft Punk design).
No, the Genesis gets people talking, and pointing and asking questions because no-one can work out what the hell it is. The fact that people guess it might be an Aston Martin, a Porsche, a Mercedes or even a Bentley is surely good news for this nascent brand, although the fact that nobody I spoke to had ever heard of Genesis cars might be less so.
The simplest way to explain it is that Genesis is to Hyundai what Lexus is to Toyota; a notionally separate luxury brand that is actually connected in both a corporate and platform-sharing way.
The trick to succeeding with this kind of vehicle is to either hope that premium customers won’ t make the connection, or to make the upgraded version feel so special and so far removed from the commonplace brand that they won’t care.
While some of the early efforts from Genesis felt, and smelled, a little too Hyundai-like for their own good, the GV80 is something else entirely.
It is plushly lovely and hugely spacious inside, with fabulous, quilted Nappa leather seats (compared to the understated cabins from Audi and BMW; it might be a little flashy for some).
The GV80 also manages to feel both unique and futuristic, with a single-spoke steering wheel, a 14.5-inch touchscreen and all kinds of lighting effects.
I had previously tried the range-topping 3.5T AWD with its beefy yet polite petrol V 6(279 kW and 530 Nm) and been very impressed with the way it drove. The Genesis version of ride and handling balance is very much tilted towards comfort, and it can be floaty almost to the point of being boaty, but if you want to drive it properly and engage with corners you can do that too. Its adaptive suspension uses a camera to scan the road ahead and prepare its dampers for any bumps, which is very clever, and very German indeed.
I was sure I’d been offered the diesel this time, and yet as I started driving the GV80 3.0D AWD I couldn’t hear the usual grumbling, galumphing sounds; just a distant, pleasant rumble, verging on a growl.
Baffled, I was forced to lower my window and silence the excellent 1050-Watt Lexicon audio system to check. If driving along with one ear out the window didn’t look strange enough to other motorists, I also began to accelerate intemperately, trying to extract a bum note from the inline six-cylinder turbo diesel (204kW/588Nm).
While I did eventually find some less than sonically wonderful points in the rev range, for a large amount of the time the diesel GV80 actually sounds as impressive as its fuel-economy figure, a typically diesel-miserly 8.8 litres per 100km.
Its zero to 100km/h time of 6.8 seconds is fairly handy for a giant SUV filled with posh furniture as well.
Creating a quiet diesel is far from being the GV80’s only trick and my absolute favourite is Remote Parking Assist. Imagine you’ve carefully positioned your Genesis in a car park, only to return and find that some sub-human has parked you in. You can merely chortle, press one button on your key to start the engine and then select another to drive it, slowly, either forward or back, to extract you from the situation.
People with small garages will love it, and I can attest that small children love it even more than I do. It’s genius.
While you can have a Genesis GV80 with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and rear-wheel drive for an attractively low $90,600, the 3.0D, which we would highly recommend, can be yours for just $103,600.
A Korean prestige car you’d want to buy? Everything really is possible.