Back in 2008 when Hyundai revealed its new luxury, rear-wheel drive Genesis sedan, Hyundai grabbed the industry’s attention. Could Hyundai, which for years had been known building budget-minded models, actually make a luxurious vehicle that could compete with the best from Germany and Japan? Now almost ten years later, Hyundai has finally decided to break off its luxury Genesis and Equus models into their own sub-brand, appropriately named Genesis. The first of these models is the 2017 Genesis G80, which is basically the same thing as the second-generation Hyundai Genesis.
The second-generation Genesis debuted for the 2016 model year, so the new G80 badges are the biggest changes between the two model years. That means that the Audi-esque grille is still there, the sculpted lines and crisp rear are all still there. Compared to the first-generation Genesis, Hyundai really amped up the styling for the second-generation, although many of its lines seem to be borrowed from its rivals. During my week with the G80 more than one person also said it looked like a Chrysler 300, which may not be a good thing if the G80 is supposed to rival models like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Inside the interior is closer to what you expect from Lexus than BMW. It’s spacious and quiet although not overly sporty. Of course the newly introduced G80 Sport may change this. The styling of the interior doesn’t really stand out, but everything is there that you’d expect – heated and cooled front seats, a head up display, navigation system and the latest safety tech like Lane Keeping Assist, Smart Cruise Control and Automatic Emergency Braking.
The 2017 G80 is available with two powertrain options, a 311-hp 3.8L V6 or a 420-hp 5.0L. If you wait until the 2018 G80 Sport arrives, you’ll get a 3.3L V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines send the power to the ground via an eight-speed automatic and the 3.8L can be equipped with all-wheel drive. The 2017 Genesis G80 with the 3.8L V-6 engine is rated at 18/28 mpg with rear-wheel-drive and the 16/25 mpg with the all-wheel drive version. The 5.0L V8 is rated at 15/23 mpg.
My tester was the 3.8L V6 with rear-wheel drive. Around town it’s performance is adequate and the eight-speed automatic was skilled at finding the right gear. For most the 3.8L V6 will be sporty enough and the four different driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) alter the transmission mapping, throttle response, and stability control settings to satisfy your desired driving type. The G80’s independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension do a good job of keeping the road’s imperfections from throwing off the comfort of the cabin. When pushed hard around a curve, body roll is kept to a minimum, although the electric steering is a bit light compared to the 5 Series. Would I call the overall driving experience sport sedan like? Not really. It’s not entirely fast or light on its feet, like some of its competitors.
Pricing for the 2017 G80 3.8L starts at $41,400, which is significantly cheaper than the Lexus GS 350, which starts at $50,695 and the Cadillac CTS with the 3.6L V6, which starts at $54,280. The G80 5.0L starts at $54,550.