What is it?
Is it new?
Yup. The Genesis G80 is all-new for the 2021 model year. It's the second-generation version (or third, if you want to get technical, since the outgoing model was a continuation of the Hyundai Genesis).
And when we say new, we mean it. The sedan receives new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder and twin-turbo 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine options, uses Genesis's new rear-wheel-drive M3 platform (yes, they called it that), and it employs a new styling language with double LED headlights and a bold, expansive grille. It's already made a splash, too: the G80 was one of the three finalists for North American Car of the Year, losing out to its corporate relation, the Hyundai Elantra.
Why is it special?
In a word: value. I would call the G80 an outstanding car even in a vacuum, but you can't discuss it without noting what an incredible deal it is. The base trim G80 starts at $47,700, around $7,000 less than the Mercedes E-Class or the Audi A6 — yet it comes out swinging with around 50 more horsepower than those cars, as well as plenty of other great standard features. Or if you want to look at it another way, the G80 also delivers a poor man's Bentley vibe for around a quarter of the price...which isn't that much of a coincidence, not a coincidence since the designer used to work for Bentley.
How does it drive?
I'd liken the G80 to other recent Hyundai Motor Group successes. You could nitpick it at performance extremes...but why would you, when it's so exceptional at everyday driving?
I drove the G80 with the smaller 2.5T four-pot engine, but even in the cheaper spec, the 300 horsepower was ample, and the 311 lb-ft of torque delivered at low revs for seamless acceleration. Even in Comfort mode, the G80 is perky and eager to get moving. By all accounts, the 3.5T is excellent, but I don't see why you would need to level up for the extra 75 hp.
The G80 backs that performance up with refinement. The ride quality sublimely balances comfort and composure, while the cabin stays silent. It's the sort of experience buyers expect from an Audi or a Mercedes.
What’s it like inside?
Serene and spacious. Or perhaps another way to think of it: Volvo, but without as much minimalism. There are worse places to spend a significant portion of your day.
The G80 performs the Kia Telluride trick of feeling like a car that costs $15,000 more than it does. I drove the top-tier AWD Prestige trim, which upgrades to real leather seatswith so-called "Ergo Motion" technology that provides extra side support, as well as an adjustable driver's seat cushion and bolster extension. I greatly enjoyed the matte wood finish, and 14.5-inch widescreen infotainment display was excellent, as well.
What’s it cost?
As noted, the Genesis G80 2.5T begins at $47,700. My luxed-out AWD Prestige trim tester with the optional Black Forest Green Metallic paint priced out to $59,550. That's about the same price as the basic 3.5T G80, which starts at $59,100. I'd take the luxury over the power.
2021 Genesis G80 AWD Prestige
Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four; 8-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Torque: 311 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway