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Genesis G80 Saloon Review

Introduction

The Genesis G80 represents one of the must-haves of any luxury manufacturer - the executive saloon. Audi has the A6, BMW has the 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz has the E-Class, and even Volvo has the V60. The new kid on the block, in Europe at least, is promising to bring something new to the competition.

Genesis has been kicking around in the US for a while now and has stood toe to toe with the established luxury marques there, taking plenty of sales from the old guard. 

As it launches across Europe and the UK, we’re putting every model through its paces to see if they have the level of quality and presence to make the same splash on this side of the pond. So, is the G80 saloon a worthy rival to the Germanic triumvirate?

Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5

At a glance

The Genesis G80 is a new addition to the executive saloon sector, so there should be no preconceptions - or, to Genesis’ undoubted frustration, brand perception. The G80 needs to make an impact and, at first glance, it works well; the roofline gives the G80 a look more akin to a coupe than a saloon, giving a bold presence with a stylish interior. 

There’s a good dollop of tech in there too, making the G80, on the face of it at least, a competent rival to the German brands.


There’s just one engine choice - a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol model with the option of rear- or all-wheel-drive - and three trim levels, with little in the way of options beyond the colour of the exterior paint or interior leather. This keeps things simple and, despite its substantial dimensions, keeps pricing sensible and leasing costs pleasingly low.

Key Features

The ‘Genesis Experience’ is the manufacturer's focus. More than simply a marketing message, it’s a way of life for the brand as it seeks to force its way into the European mindset. Gone are traditional dealers and service outlets, replaced by a concierge service that will see Genesis come and collect your car when a service is due, leaving you with a similar courtesy car.


You’ll also find that servicing, breakdown cover and any other ‘extras’ are all included, with a personal contact at Genesis able to organise anything out of the ordinary, such as dealing with a warranty claim, in a frictionless and somewhat luxurious manner.

Performance & Drive

Genesis has opted to offer just one engine choice for the G80, a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit, which generates 304hp. It’s available with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, giving it all the makings of a performance saloon.

The engine performs well, getting the saloon off the mark and up to speed in pretty good time - the 0-62mph dash is dealt with in 6.9 seconds - but you do need to give it a little extra welly to extract the most from it, leaving the engine sounding rather stretched.

There is plenty to like about the performance of the G80 but, with two tonnes of metal to shift, it’s never going to feel particularly lithe or agile. Still, push on to the limits and there’s sufficient grip to keep you on the road, although the steering feels a little detached making the overall driving experience less soulful than some of its more sporting rivals.


The eight-speed automatic gearbox keeps things moving along smoothly, with relaxed gear changes, reinforcing the feeling that the sporting promise is absent, replaced with a focus on refinement and luxury. That’s no bad thing.

The suspension uses what Genesis calls ECS - Electronically Controlled Suspension - to give a reasonably refined ride for the most part. The system uses the front-facing camera to assess the road surface ahead, adjusting the suspension as you go to smooth the path. It isn’t always entirely successful though, and potholes often still clatter through the cabin, shattering the peaceful ambience.

The model we drove, the Luxury spec, comes with 20-inch wheels as standard, and they don’t help the smoothness of the ride - you’ll be better sticking with the 19-inch wheels of the Premium and Sport models for a more pleasant, comfortable experience, although there’s no doubt that the larger rims look better. 


Running costs

Thanks to the way Genesis ownership works, you won’t face too many costs during your time with the G80. The warranty runs for five years, easily exceeding any lease term., while servicing is also included in the package. That leaves you with little to do other than put fuel in the car.

That, however, might cost a fair bit. While the G80 has an official WLTP economy figure of 30.5mpg - not a figure to write home about - it’s tricky to get close to even that figure. Over mixed roads from motorways to urban areas, our G80’s onboard computer showed an average of 26.5mpg, which won’t excite many people outside of Shell’s headquarters.


Interior

Inside the G80 you’ll find plenty of comfort and luxury, even in the ‘entry-level’ Premium specification. Both the driver and passenger have fully electrically adjustable seats enabling you to find the most comfortable position possible. If you opt for Luxury or Sport lines, add the optional comfort seat pack and those in the front seat can enjoy Ergo motion seats, which use seven separate air cells to massage the seat occupant, leaving them fresh and relaxed. It sounds like a gimmick, but it works and feels magnificent.

The cabin has a distinctly premium ambience to it, with quality materials throughout and a feeling of solidity to the well-constructed cabin.

if you want to spice things up a little, there is a reasonable range of colour choices, particularly for the Luxury model line with optional Nappa leather seats.


The 14.5-inch touchscreen sits at the heart of the dashboard. While it can be a little distracting, it isn’t too difficult to get to grips with, and the addition of a dial-driven control in a similar vein to BMW’s iDrive system makes it even easier. There are a good number of physical buttons too, so simple things like cabin temperature can be adjusted without having to delve into multiple screens.

There’s ample space in the G80, with decent headroom for those who are more vertically gifted, but you will lose some of that space if you add the optional sunroof. There is room in the back for three, but it might be a little cosy. You’ll all have plenty of legroom, though.

With all that room, storage options are plentiful, with the centre console opening to reveal a huge space beneath, and sizable door pockets in the front and the back. Boot space is on a par with rivals, although the saloon styling does make the boot opening a little small.

Genesis has managed to create a premium feel throughout the vehicle, with the materials used feeling reassuringly tactile, although the steering wheel is an odd outlier; while the leather-wrapped rim is fine to hold, the centre has a more budget style, with some lower rent plastics in use.


Technology

Much of the tech onboard the G80 is controlled via the touchscreen infotainment system and touch controller. The concave centre of the rotating dial can be used to swipe between screens and, rather than stretching to the central touchscreen to enter an address on the navigation system, offers the ability to scrawl letters using your finger to spell out your destination directly.

Genesis has added a little something to the onboard nav through augmented reality. Using the camera mounted at the front of the car, the system broadcasts the view out of the front of the car, overlaying directions, lane suggestions and road names in real-time, making instructions crystal clear and navigation easier to follow. It’s far from flawless though, sometimes taking too long to appear and then, frustratingly, disappearing when you need it most, but it does highlight the possibilities once Genesis has fine-tuned the tech. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available too, if you’d rather use your own system.


Step above the Premium line model and you can upgrade the sound system with the optional Lexicon audio package, with an external amplifier, surround sound, subwoofer, and active noise cancellation.

One of the neatest tricks that Genesis has up its sleeve is remote parking assist. It takes the idea of self-parking cars to a new level, allowing you to park the car without being in it. Parking in a tight spot, or getting back into your car when someone has parked far too close in a tight space is made quick and easy, with just a few button presses on the keyring. Sadly, the system is an option rather than standard, and is only available on the Luxury and Sport models, but it has some very definite advantages.


Safety

Safety is something that Genesis has added in spades, adding a host of safety features as standard to the G80, as well as the other cars in its line-up.

There are 10 airbags to minimise injury to the occupants should the worst happen, including one which inflates between the driver and passenger. To avoid the accident in the first place, alongside things such as smart cruise control, lane-keeping assist and blind-spot collision avoidance, the G80 also boasts safe exit assist to protect rear passengers as they prepare to disembark the vehicle. Using the car's radar systems, should it detect a car approaching in the blind spot, it will automatically activate the rear child locks to prevent the door from being opened until the danger has passed.


Myriad collision warnings mean you should always be aware of what’s happening around you when you’re manoeuvring, while lane follow assist and highway driving assist will keep things in check during those longer, more tedious journeys.

This comprehensive catalogue of safety is a credit to Genesis, and the brand has been rewarded with the full complement of five stars after being put through the Euro NCAP testing regime.


Options

With much of what Genesis has to offer included as standard with the G80, there are only a handful of optional extras, although they aren’t all available across every model line. The Innovation Pack, which includes a head-up display and remote smart parking assist, and a sunroof, are available for all models. Comfort seat packs, Nappa leather seats and the Lexicon sound system aren’t available on the lowest spec model, and there are a few cosmetic options that are only for the Sport model.

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time behind the wheel covering plenty of miles, it might be worth plumping for the Luxury line with the Comfort seat pack to take advantage of the Ergo Motion seats, which have been given a firm thumbs up not only by this road tester but also by Germany’s Campaign for Healthier Backs.


Rival cars

The German triumvirate of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class are the most obvious alternatives, with each being suitably high quality and offering a blend of luxury and performance. The BMW will be the best to drive, the Mercedes will feel the nicest, most luxurious option, and the Audi is a fine balance between both.

Lexus offers the GS, a similarly distinctive option to the Genesis G80, but it’s been around a while now and is beginning to feel its age; the drive isn’t engaging and the tech is rather dated, but the hybrid power and Japanese style makes up for some of that.


Verdict

If you’re looking for a direct comparison of the G80 against other similarly-priced luxury saloon rivals, the Genesis stacks up rather well. You do get plenty of bang for your buck, with lots of tech and safety equipment as standard, and Genesis hasn’t, for the most part, skimped with the materials in the cabin, so the G80 stands shoulder to shoulder with the Germans when it comes to quality.

But that isn’t all that matters. What makes the difference is the promised ownership experience, where you have to do little more than send a message and Genesis will look after (almost) everything for you from start to finish, no matter how small an issue you might be facing.

Only the reliance on thirsty petrol engines marks the car down, but a fully-electric version of the car is coming soon. Watch this space.

Where to next?

View our latest Genesis G80 lease deal  - from just £461.90 per month inc VAT**

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Genesis G80

**Correct as of 07/07/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £4,157.10 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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