Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Reviews 2021 Genesis G80 Prestige AWD Review: The Genesis Sweet Spot

2021 Genesis G80 Prestige AWD Review: The Genesis Sweet Spot

The Genesis G80 is quite possibly the most satisfying true premium luxury midsize sedan available today

  • Base pricing for the Genesis G80 starts at $47,700 in the US, $66,000 in Canada.

  • The G90 is offered in two loaded trims in Canada – pick an engine and you’re done.

  • Heads will turn as you drive around in one.

I have now officially completed a complete tour of Genesis’ product lineup. In less than four months’ time, I sample all three sedans and their new SUV and I am nothing short of amazed by what Hyundai’s luxury brand has achieved in so little time. And what really blows me away is that my favorite of the lot is the one I thought the least of: The G80.

In my world, I like them small or big. The more compact G70 is very entertaining to drive while the G90 is more comforting than a mother’s embrace for a seven-year that just fell and scraped his knee. The GV80 impressed me much so I assumed that the G80 was going to follow suit. It did not.

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Incredibly attractive, inside and out

I require aid most weeks when returning and picking up cars every week. I typically enlist my father’s help and he was driving the G80. At one point, I was following him and caught myself almost ogling the sedan. A few moments later, I passed my father and as we turned a corner, I shot a quick glance at the G80 through the side window and made the frown of beauty appreciation, pursed lips and all. You know the one.

I was stunned that I was stunned. My top-line Prestige was painted Uyumi white and was shod with chromed five-spoke alloy wheels. The latter are the only visual difference between the 3.5T Prestige and the 2.5T Advanced. What caught my eye was not the large crest grille or the quad-light theme, it was its width, low and wide stance, and its beautifully rearward flowing roofline and bodyline. In truth, the G80’s design, to use Genesis’ words, captivated the attention of many onlookers.

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The G80’s cabin is another example of Genesis’ impeccable approach to luxury, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. In a strange way, I could almost imagine the restraint imposed on designers when it came to penning the G80’s interior so as not to overshadow the G90.

Every surface in the G80 is curated to perfection, be it with leather, real wood, and various metals. Here, ultra-modern haptic controllers are faultlessly integrated into their surroundings and what’s more, ergonomics are equally flawless, with one exception. The superb standard 14.5-inch touchscreen display is slightly too far forward. I tend to sit close to the steering, am of average height, and my back needed to leave the seatback for me to work the menus.

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

I was more upset about leaving the Nappa leather behind than having to stretch, frankly. The Prestige’s driver perch is 16-way power-adjustable including power side bolster and cushion extension. Plus, it features Ergo motion, also known as a massaging function.

Absolutely cosseting

Truly, the Genesis G80’s cabin is a cocoon of serenity but the midsize luxury sedan is more than just a cozy corner. Before I touch on power, I want to talk about the Prestige’s included electronic control suspension. Unlike the GV80 that somewhat failed to take full advantage of the smart damping technology because of its larger wheels and increased heft. The G80’s 20-inch wheels and lower weight, by some 500 lbs, meant that ride comfort was blissful. As a true move to knock out the competition, it should be offered on all Genesis products.

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Like the GV80, the G80 is powered by either a turbocharged 2.5-litre 4-cylinder or a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6. The 2.5T is a gem with its 300 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft. of torque, and I preferred it over the V6 in the GV80. The tested G80 included the 3.5T, a mighty weapon with its 375 horsepower and 391 lb.-ft. of torque. Although I did not drive the G80 with the 2.5T, I know I’d stick with the 6. Somehow, a large luxury sedan makes me feel not quite as reasonable when it comes to power.

As with the GV80, the Genesis G80’s 8-speed automatic transmission is impeccably tuned. It’ll glide imperceptibly from one gear to another or drop three or four of them without hesitation should the driver mash the throttle. The 5-meter long, 4,500lbs sedan is gratifyingly fast and great to drive. My sole qualm is with the brake pedal feel. The electronic response provides no feedback whatsoever – it’s something however that will quickly become normal.

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Genesis has your luxury sedan

Genesis has created quite a buzz over the last 18 months or so and many are taking notice. The vehicles remain a rare sight on the road but no longer do they go by unnoticed. The G70 will be the final Genesis to adopt the brand’s signature design cues such as the crest grille and quad head- and taillights. It is these design attributes, including the parabolic lines, that visually sets the Genesis G80 apart from German and Japanese rivals.

Perhaps it was the combination of Uyumi white, chrome wheels, and wide stance that got cars to slow down alongside the G80 on the road but even so, onlookers were curious. Or likely, knew or had heard about the car but had yet seen one in person. Be honest: When was the last time you spotted an Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2021 Genesis G80 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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