3 out of 5 3.0
Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

New saloon from Genesis faces Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz

Genesis G80 Saloon (21 on) - rated 3 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £41,650 - £73,620
Lease from new From £651 p/m View lease deals
Used price £21,895 - £54,805
Fuel Economy 26.2 - 44.8 mpg
Road tax cost £165 - £520
Insurance group 40 - 48 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • All-in one five-year care plan included
  • Looks like nothing else out there
  • Plush and tech-laden interior

CONS

  • Strength of the opposition
  • You'll be forever explaining what it is
  • Engines aren't good enough

Genesis G80 Saloon rivals

Written by CJ Hubbard on

Genesis is a standalone luxury brand from Hyundai – much as Lexus is the posh outlet for Toyota – and the Genesis G80 is the firm’s flagship saloon. It also launched the marque into the UK and Europe in 2021, and has subsequently been joined by a number of other models, including the Electrified G80, an all-electric version of this car that we’ve covered in a separate review.

The conventional G80 we’re reviewing here was initially available with a choice of petrol or diesel power, but now only petrol is offered in the UK pricelist. From this, and the recent arrival of another all-electric Genesis, the GV60, you can speculate on how the firm is trying to position itself for the future.

For now, however, there are still plenty of buyers who need the flexibility and driving range of an internal combustion engine. So how does the G80 stack up against what is a tough set of competitors, including the heavy-hitting German trio of Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as well as the less obvious Jaguar XF and Volvo S90.

What’s it like inside?

The interior is where the G80 immediately makes a very positive impression; while the exterior is striking and individually styled, it’s not conventionally attractive – the inside, however, is almost spectacular.

At very nearly five metres long, the G80 is a large car and it has a large, luxurious cabin to match – one that genuinely shouldn’t struggle to win over customers from Audi, Mercedes and BMW. Material quality is outstanding from the leather on the seats to the real wood on the dashboard; the plastics are properly good and the switchgear all feels very well engineered. Overall, it really does feel a cut above the E-Class and even the 5 Series.

It’s not short of tech, either. The large widescreen central infotainment screen can be operated by touch or via the beautifully damped rotary dial on the middle console – the infotainment is reasonably easy to use after a short period of familiarity, so owners should get along with it just fine.

You can add to this with a digital instrument cluster and a comprehensive, and well laid-out head-up display, with the former acting as the view screen for the optional blindspot-monitoring camera system. This automatically activates with the indicators, adding a bit of wow factor that the interior hardly needs – though you will find similar technology in recent Hyundais and Kias as well.

What you don’t get from these lesser brands is the same degree of colour and material customisation inside. From sober business class to something more outlandish and flamboyant, Genesis has got you covered.

Comfort

There’s plenty of space in the front, and lots of adjustment in the seats and the steering wheel – both available with electric control. The seats are comfortable over long distances, too, and if you want something even fancier than the already impressive standard leather, quilted Nappa leather is also available.

In the rear, you can stretch out your legs, though headroom is tight, not aided by the upright seat backs. Go Luxury Line or spec the Executive pack to add independently operated rear video screens, and a folding armrest filled with controls. You can operate pretty much every car function from back here, bar driving the thing.

General refinement is as good as you’d expect from the rest of the interior, thanks in part to acoustic glass. But the engines can sound coarse and harsh when used hard. This isn’t an issue in the electric version, but you will notice the slight amount of wind and road noise more in one of those.

Safety

The G80 has a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. It was only put through the wringer in 2021, so it’s achieved this on the hardest version of the Euro NCAP test yet, which also ensures it has plenty of top quality active driving aids available.

This includes ‘Smart Cruise Control’ and ‘Highway Driving Assist II’, a pair set of features that control the distance to the car ahead and keeps the G80 centred in its lane; they also use ‘machine learning’ to understand and support the driver even when they aren’t activated and controlling the car. The idea here is to avoid some of the frustrations usually associated with adaptive cruise control systems.

Other clever features include Evasive Driving Assist – which will help you steer to avoid a crash if it can – those clever blindspot monitors, and a neat front centre airbag. This is designed to stop people in the front banging into each other in an accident.

What’s it like to drive?

When it first arrived in the UK, the G80 was available with a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 304hp or a 2.2-litre turbodiesel with 210hp. The diesel has subsequently dropped from the UK due to ‘unforeseen production challenges’, but we’ve got some driving impressions below for the reference of anyone buying used. Both models are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The four-cylinder petrol engine is quiet under acceleration, and has plenty of punch in the middle of its rev range – something that the slight pause you get as the transmission shuffles down gears whenever you put your foot down only seems to emphasise.

Originally, the petrol was also all-wheel drive (AWD) only, which mean that even with 304hp there was no struggle to find traction. There is now a rear-wheel drive option, however, which costs slightly less and should provide better real-world fuel economy; in the all-wheel drive version we struggled to get anywhere near 30mpg. It’s a thirsty engine, leaving the G80 considerable out of step with the established rivals in this regard.

While available, the four-cylinder diesel was much more efficient. It’s nowhere near as quick, but has enough poke for overtaking and is capable of over 40mpg. Unfortunately, CO2 emissions aren’t particularly impressive – again, especially compared with rivals. Genesis doesn’t offer any hybrid models, but eco-conscious customers can now opt for the electric version.

Disappointing engines aside, the G80 is otherwise rather nice to drive, with a choice of driving modes that subtly change the character of the car. Genesis has done specific development work for the European market in order to better suit local roads and driving habits. And it shows.

The steering feels responsive and authentically weighted at out-of-town speeds. Handling isn’t quite as sharp as a 5 Series, but you can still hustle it along a country road at a brisk pace. The brakes have excellent stopping power. Sophisticated multilink suspension front and rear does a fine job of managing the G80’s bulk in the corners.

Unfortunately, despite the suspension being further enhanced by adaptive damping that’s reprogrammed automatically as you drive, using data from a camera that scans the road ahead, the ride often feels overly firm. This makes the G80 quite jarring on rough surfaces, even in Comfort mode.

What models and trims are available?

Beyond the engine and drivetrain choice, G80 buyers have to make a decision between three trim levels: Premium, Luxury and Sport. All are well equipped, but the Luxury is well worth the extra outlay over the Premium model.

Pricing is not super-cheap, and be careful with the options list and its tempting series of ‘Packs’ – these have lots of lovely features but can make the G80 very expensive.

What else should I know?

Genesis doesn’t have traditional dealerships – there’s only one location in the UK, in fact, which is in the Westfield London shopping centre. Instead it prefers to sell direct via its website, where potential customers will be assigned a ‘personal assistant’ to see them through the process and handle all your aftercare.

This includes sorting out collecting and returning the car for servicing, saving you the hassle of taking it anywhere. This might be less convenient should something go suddenly wrong, as you can’t just pop into the local dealer, but we’re not expecting the G80 to be an unreliable car. Hyundai has a fine reputation, after all.

What’s more, you get five years of warranty and servicing included.

Click through to our verdict for our final word on the Genesis G80 petrol and diesel models.

Genesis G80 Saloon rivals

Other Genesis G80 models: