The Genesis G80 is the large luxury saloon you probably haven't considered in your perusal of models in the class for cars like BMW's 5 Series, Audi's A6 and the Mercedes E-Class. Those contenders are difficult to take on directly, but someone seeking something a little more left-field in this segment - say a Jaguar XF, a Lexus ES or a Volvo S90 - ought to consider this G80 too. It might well surprise you.
Just over three decades ago, Toyota's Lexus brand arrived in the luxury saloon sector with a car badged the LS400 - and shook things up considerably. It would perhaps be asking too much for this Genesis G80 saloon to have quite as much of an industry impact as that, but there's no doubt that this car has enough about it to make customers in the luxury segment take a second look; if they can be persuaded to try it. Getting to that point could be problematic for Genesis, Hyundai's premium brand, but owners seeking something just that bit different could well be attracted by this G80's Bentley-esque looks, lavish cabin and superb customer service back-up. Let's take a closer look.
The G80 offers a 304PS 2.5-litre four cylinder turbo petrol unit with either rear wheel drive or AWD. Both variants are mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Genesis has developed a 365hp all-electric version too, which gets an e-AWD system and can go up to 323 miles on a single change of its 87.2kWh battery. The four cylinder 2.2-litre 210PS diesel unit this car launched with is no longer offered. The EV model's pretty silent, but even if you stick with combustion power we tried, you can expect exceptional levels of drive refinement, aided by special noise cancelling technology, along with acoustic-muffling side glass. And though this is no sports saloon, it's not slow, even the four cylinder diesel managing 62mph in 6.0s; you can trim two seconds off that time if you go for the 2.5-litre petrol variant. It's just 4.9s for the electrified model, which uses a 185PS motor on each axle. To replicate those figures in the petrol model, you'll need to have selected the most urgent of the three provided drive modes - 'Sport'; the other two are 'Eco' and 'Comfort', the latter best of course for experiencing the best that the standard Electronic Control Suspension system has to offer. Its adaptive damping effect is aided by a camera that monitors the road surface and adjusts the suspension to suit the tarmac tears and pot holes you're about to pass over. You expect this car to be something of a luxury wafter and, sure enough, there's the rather light and woolly steering that tends to characterise this type of big saloon. Once we got this G80 to a few secondary roads though, we found that it actually handles better than we'd expected, though it's a pity that you can't have the e-LSD electronic limited slip differential that's available on the GV80 SUV model.
Like its GV80 SUV stablemate, this G80 saloon certainly has plenty of road presence - primarily due to its huge front grille and bisected LED headlamps. Some will see shades of Bentley Flying Spur here, encouraged perhaps by the rather similar winged Genesis bonnet badge. Size-wise, this car competes against full-Executive models like BMW's 5 Series, Audi's A6 and the Mercedes E-Class. Inside, there's a very high quality feel and an almost Bentley-like knurled finish to some items of switchgear. And of course there's the usual huge centre touchscreen, accompanied by a digital instrument cluster. The seats are superb and the quality of leather upholstery impeccable, especially with top 'Luxury Line'-spec, where it's quilted and accompanied by tasteful natural wood inlays. Genesis also includes standard double glazing for the front side windows. Textured two-tone indicator tips, a faux-ivory circular control pad and arcing door panels complete the high-end ambiance. There's very comfortable space for two adults in the second row, where you can really stretch out, though headroom isn't especially generous. The top 'Luxury'-spec model also adds independently-operated rear screens and a fold-down centre armrest laden with controls. Out back, there's 424-litre boot in the petrol model, which falls to 354-litres with the EV version.
Prices start at just under £48,500 for the 304PS 2.5-litre petrol rear-driven version. You can also talk to Genesis about an AWD version of this variant, priced at £1,900 more. Both of those figures are for base 'Premium' spec; you can upgrade to plusher 'Luxury' or 'Sport' trim levels in either case for just over £5,000 more. Obviously, you'll need more still for the fully-electrified model - just under £70,000 to be exact. These prices are comparable with the entry-level figures for cars like Audi's A6, BMW's 5 Series or the Mercedes E-Class, but with those models, you'll need to spend a lot more to get a comparable level of equipment that fitted with the G80. Just about everything you can imagine is fitted as standard. Genesis doesn't have a network of UK dealerships. Instead, everything is done via so-called Genesis 'Studios' - which will be shopfronts in upmarket shopping centres. One has already been opened in London and others will follow. But you don't have to go to one of those. You simply connect with Genesis online, then you'll be allocated your own Genesis Personal Assistant who'll take you through the sales process, from test drive to delivery - and they'll deal with after-care as well. This Assistant isn't won't be salaried on commission as an ordinary car salesperson would be, so you won't get any hard sell.
In 2.5-litre petrol form, this G80 isn't very economic - quoted at 30.5-31.2mpg, with up to 205g/km of CO2. If you want to do better, then you'll need to ask your Genesis Personal assistant about the alternative all-electric version. That electrified G80 can go 323 miles on each charge. And it has a quick charging system can charge the battery from 10% up to 80% within 22 minutes. The Electrified G80 also has a V2L (Vehicle to Load) feature that makes it possible to conveniently charge other electric devices. And to increase energy efficiency, a solar panel is built into the roof to generate electricity using sunlight. Every Genesis is covered by a 5 year Care Plan which includes scheduled servicing for 5 years or 50,000 miles. With each service visit, Genesis will collect and return the car to your door. This also applies to any necessary work required, including warranty work. You simply contact your Genesis Personal Assistant to make it happen. Who can also arrange a courtesy car. The 5 year Care Plan also includes updates to in-car navigational maps. And there's complimentary subscription to Genesis Connected Services, which will allow you to access information services from your 'phone to digitally enhance your ownership experience.
If you want a full-sized luxury saloon not defined by its badge but by the way it looks, feels and drives, then this G80 might appeal. Particularly if you're fed up with the dismissive level of customer service that characterises some premium brand dealerships. This big Genesis sedan won't get the attention garnered upon its GV80 SUV stablemate, but in its own way, it's just as appealing a proposition - and one that starts from a considerably lower price starting point. The looks are individual, the cabin is sumptuous and this G80 can rival the best of its competitors when it comes to ride and refinement. Those alternatives would surely shade it in terms of handling, but that kind of capability is rarely important to customers in this segment. If this is a sign of things to come from Genesis, then the prospects for this ambitious Korean marque seem strong.