First Drive: The Wonderful Luxury Sport Sedan You Didn’t Know Existed

Genesis’s first step into the performance sedan market is promising.

Credit where credit is due: I was ready to write off the Genesis G80 Sport as little more than a “sporty” trim package. But Hyundai (yes, remember this car is from the people who brought you the miraculously shitty Pony) has made the G80 Sport its own distinct member of Genesis’s E-Class/5-Series fighter family. The most apparent changes are cosmetic: a honeycomb grille, 19-inch multi-spoke alloys and copper-colored trim. But Genesis added a 365 horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 and tweaked the suspension too — good stuff. So is it a proper sport sedan? The answer is a resounding “pretty much.”

What makes the G80 Sport mostly great is what makes the standard G80 great: It’s an astounding value. For $55,250, you get a loaded mid-size luxury sedan with a handsome exterior, comfy seats, every tech and safety feature you could reasonably want and a really nice audio system. The standard Genesis G80 (full disclosure: my frame of reference is the equivalent, but older, Hyundai Genesis) isn’t exactly thrilling to drive, but the added performance tweaks here are a salve to that car’s lethargy. The G80 is a heavy car, but in Sport guise, it’s fairly sharp around corners, and that twin-turbo V6 makes an incredibly lovely, aggressive-yet-understated growl when you step on the gas. Genesis doesn’t list a 0-60 acceleration time, but the word “swift” feels appropriate.

That said, it could be quicker, at least in an age when immense speed is an expectation in a luxury car. Further, shifts and throttle response could be sharper. Really, these are the finer points of what should make a sport sedan feel sporty, but maybe that’s being too nitpicky given the G80 Sport’s low MSRP. Look at the starting price for the 241 horsepower Mercedes E300, and it’s pretty apparent how much car (for the money) you’re getting here. Is it perfect? No, but it’s a great start for a young auto brand, like Genesis, to push into the competitive world of sporty luxury. Stay tuned for more detailed driving impressions next week.

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