You may be thinking that I’m out of my mind for writing such a bold title on the 2021 Genesis G80. This is Clavey’s Corner after all. Did you expect otherwise? But, perhaps, more importantly, is that this is hands down a superb automobile. Just like the SUV it shares its underpinnings with – the GV80 – the G80 midsize sedan is changing the game. In many respects, it’s even teaching other carmakers how to do luxury.
That Look Though
Say what you will about the new Genesis corporate face, with its enormous grille and dual LED “strip” headlights, but it sure as hell helps the brand to finally position itself as its own entity, and no longer just an extension of Hyundai. I personally adore what they’re doing with the 2021 Genesis G80.This design is classy, elegant and allows the car to look and feel a lot more expensive than it actually is. Although I’m not sure I’d get my G80 in white. I’d much prefer it in a darker color like that nice green from the GV80 I reviewed. Contrary to the G90 fullsizer I drove last winter, this isn’t a heavily refreshed version of the old car. I mean, yes, the 2021 Genesis G80 still rides on the same rear-bias platform as before, but it was heavily updated and stiffened by way of more high-strength steel and extra adhesives at key locations. Dimensionally, it rides on the exact same wheelbase, with a nearly identical overall length, except it’s a tad wider by 1.4 inches (36 mm) and 0.6 inches (15 mm) lower.What changes is what’s underneath the hood, which is pretty much a carbon copy of the GV80. Base cars come with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder good for 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the one I was driving had the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive is standard equipment here in Canada.Just like its SUV counterpart, the 2021 Genesis GV80 gets you a lot more for your dollar than a German alternative. The lineup is actually even more simplified and still “all-inclusive”. There are basically only two models to choose from. The entry level 2.5T Advanced AWD, which comes fully loaded to boot, sells for a very aggressive $66,000, while the top-dog 3.5T Prestige AWD model stickers for $76,000. Good luck finding a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E Class with this level of equipment at a similar price point. It won’t happen.
More Relaxed Than Focused
But then, the 2021 Genesis G80 never delivers an as focused driving experience as its German rivals. What you have here instead is a car that lets you indulge in its numerous creature comforts and surprisingly witty cabin features. In many ways, the G80 splits the difference between the German carmakers that are constantly chasing Nürburgring lap times and the Japanese who somehow still don’t know where they’re heading.The G80 therefore sends a clear message about what the entire Genesis brand wants to be: a game changer. You pay less than an Audi, BMW or a Mercedes-Benz here, yet, you never feel like you’re getting less. As a matter of fact, this car makes your realize how much the Germans are ripping you off with their endless, overpriced option lists.Is the G80 a quick sedan? Yes, of course. I mean, a 0-100 km/h time of 5.7 seconds is a respectful time, but it’s never as stout as a European competitor. Accelerations are brisk, with a smooth delivery of power, almost instant turbo boost and ample torque for overtaking. Turn-in is sharp and there’s a graceful balance in the way the chassis was tuned. Where the G80 shines strong is its ability to operate in utmost efficiency. It’s the kind of mechanical harmony that has made vehicles like the Golf GTI or BMW M2 so praised by automotive enthusiasts. You can thank Albert Biermann for this. I mean, the dude used to tune BMW M cars. It think he knows where he’s going.But where this G80 truly impresses is in its cabin, which wraps you in eye-catching materials, immense comfort and impeccable fit and finish. Just like the GV80, this gets a 3D digital gauge pod, which never ceases to impress due to its clever use of graphics that make you believe it’s actually composed of physical components.The steering wheel design is just as ugly as the other car, but those seats are SO thick in comfort and support that you’ll never want to climb out of them. Genesis calls them Ergo Motion. They feature a light massaging capability, but it doesn’t exactly match what the Germans offer in that area. It’s the weak pulsating action of the massaging feature that feels like an unenthusiastic back rub from your significant other. It’s just weird.But everything around those seats is honestly bang on. The infotainment screen works flawlessly, albeit a tad complex and charged in information. I’m however not a fan of that trackpad thingy on the center console, or the weirdly located volume slider ahead of it, but perhaps if I had the car a little longer, I’d had gotten used to it (I’ll have one for a much longer test period later this winter).Oh, and the rear seats are immensely comfortable and spacious too! As a matter of fact, I found more comfort back there than in a BMW 5-Series. The car rides smooth, but not too smooth, so it doesn’t feel like a Lincoln Continental. Meanwhile, the entire cabin is just as well insulated as in a Lexus.Perhaps the only big downer going against the 2021 Genesis G80 is the lack of true brand recognition. People are only beginning to grasp the idea of a luxury Japanese car brand, and it took them 30 years to change people’s perspective. It’s hard to explain to people what Genesis is, but at least, it’s using a much bolder approach than the Japanese. And with cars like the G70, it has already reached a level of performance that matches the Germans, something Acura, Infiniti and Lexus are still working on. In other words, the G80 is a fine luxury car that’s simply waiting for its reputation to catch up to it.
Review of the 2021 Genesis G80 by William Clavey
Midsize Luxury Sedans
- Massive and classy interior
- Loaded with class-leading equipment
- Feels expensive, brilliant pricing
- Weird seat massaging features
- Not as focused as main German rivals
- Still no brand recognition
9 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Genesis Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]