We weren’t in the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport more than 30 seconds before my wife said, “Why don’t we get one of these?”
It’s important to point out that, despite the fact that she married me, my wife has great taste. She can quickly size up quality and isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. In the Genesis G80 Sport, she liked what she saw and felt.
By now you should know that Genesis is its own brand. Just as Toyota spun off Lexus and Nissan created Infiniti, Hyundai realized it needed a separate division if it was going to nibble away at the luxury market. Since the Genesis name was reserved for the upper Hyundai range, it only made sense to spin it off as the luxury brand.
The Genesis G80 Sport isn’t going to knock Mercedes off of its lofty perch, but it is going to wreak havoc in the mid-range of the luxury world. Once again, Hyundai has packed a lot of car into a great price.
The first thing we need to do is make a distinction between the G80 and the G80 Sport. Not surprisingly, the G80 Sport is supposed to be the performance sedan of the Genesis range. Most reviewers have called it “Sport” with quotation marks, or “Sport-Light”. While it may be sportier, they don’t think it qualifies as a true performance car. The horsepower is fine, but some folks don’t think it would measure up in a slalom test. So here’s the thing to remember: are you ever going to run it through a slalom? If the most exciting driving you do is accelerating on the curve that merges on to the freeway, don’t worry about how many Gs it will handle. You want it to accelerate crisply, brake solidly and corner in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re drifting away. The G80 Sport does all those things well. Maybe not at Audi or BMW levels, but good enough for what most people want and need.
The Sport gets a 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 that gives 365 horsepower. If that’s not enough for you, there is a 5.0 liter V8 that will pump out 420 horsepower. That’s just not available in the Sport version. Frankly, 365 is plenty. Push the throttle and it comes to life very quickly. It’s mated to Hyundai’s second generation 8-speed transmission which shifts just fine. You have your choice of Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow modes.
To be honest, the G80 Sport’s weakest point is probably in the MPG department. Officially it’s good for 17 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the high way with a combined number of 20 MPG. Frankly, I only managed about 17 MPG during my test week. It was nearly all city driving and I was pretty hard on the throttle, but it’s not as good as some sporty competitors.
The G80 uses shift-by-wire technology. In other words, the shifter on the center console no longer has a mechanical connection to the gear box. Various manufacturers have tried different systems. Genesis has a handle with a button on the side. Push the button with your thumb and nudge the handle forward and it goes into reverse. Pull it back and you’re in drive. The only awkward thing was the park button that is situated just in front of the shift handle. It works fine, but just seems to be out-of-place.
This year the G80 got a mild face-lift. It has redesigned headlights along with a lower front grill. If you don’t like big grilles, you won’t like modern cars. Bigger is in, especially if the car is labeled Sport. I think the G80 grille is just right. Big without being overpowering. Overall, the G80 has an attractive, upscale look.
While it may not be a super Sport, driving the car is a great experience. It uses continuous damping control suspension to give a better ride. It’s also loaded with safety features like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert and smart cruise control. I thought the thought the lane keeper assist worked very well. It gradually pushed me back into my line without being jerky.
Inside the G80 Sport gets a few special touches. It has dark chrome trim with carbon fiber along with copper contrast stitching on the leather surfaces. That copper matches the accents on the headlamps and wheels. The Sport edition comes with a Lexicon surround sound system that has 17 speakers. The display interface works well. Hyundai’s version is one of the best on the market. Easy to understand and no major glitches.
The seats were nice, but it’s the front legroom that is especially impressive. The G80 beats most of its competitors by three or four inches. Don’t need all that room up front? Fine, slide your seat forward and the folks in the back get extra room to stretch out.
Hyundai and Kia have always been big on value, and the Genesis line will carry that forward. For example, the 2018 G80 gives you 3 years/36,000 mile complimentary normally scheduled maintenance, Genesis Connected Services (which includes a suite of safety services), SiriusXM Travel Link (traffic data), and Map Care (annual navigation map updates).
And then there’s the price. The base 2018 Genesis G80 starts at $41,750. My 3.3T Sport edition was priced at $56,225 and that included freight and handling. There were no options listed, and I can imagine that you’d really need any. Compare this to the other cars in the G80’s class and you’ll quickly realize you’re saving some serious cash.
The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport may not the pinnacle in road performance, but it’s still a strong package on just about every front and one you really need to consider if you’re looking for a luxury sedan. Besides, it only took my wife 30 seconds to figure out this car was a contender.