Launched late in 2020, the Genesis GV80 is the luxury Korean car maker’s first SUV. Since then, the smaller GV70 and GV60 have been added in rapid succession, as the brand continues to evolve.
As the most expensive model in a range that now comprises two sedans and three SUVs, GV80 assumes the mantle of flagship of the range.
It’s designed to go head-to-head with the likes of Lexus and Volvo as well as lower echelon offerings from the Germans.
Although it carries a three-figure price, it’s targeted at buyers from the big end of town, many of whom will recognise the name — but know little or nothing about the brand. The important thing, however, is that Genesis is at least on their radar.
GV80 is a big, impressive-looking machine, at just under five metres in length with a kerb weight of about 2300kg. The styling is tasteful, chiselled and eye-catching, but not overly busy like some offerings from Lexus. The front is defined by an imposing, almost heraldic, crest-shaped, mesh radiator grille, flanked by twin-strip LED headlights. These motifs are repeated at the rear of the vehicle, with twin-strip tail lights and concealed exhaust tail pipes. A winged Genesis badge adorns the bonnet while the Genesis name is emblazoned across the tailgate.
As history shows, wings are a safe choice when it comes to the luxury car segment.
Linking the front and rear is a bright, reflective, scalloped chrome strip, with decorative gills for the front guards and intricately styled 22-inch alloys capping off the look.
Inside the cabin is an exercise in understatement. It’s all there, but presented in a way that is not overwhelming like some German cars. There’s a wide sweeping dash that provides the platform for the large, low-profile touchscreen. It’s underpinned by an unusually long, thin air vent that extends from one side of the dash to the other. A broad centre console has been de-cluttered, with a tempered glass rotary knob replacing the usual transmission lever.
There’s another circular control that supplements the touchscreen, along with handwriting recognition — does anyone actually use this stuff?
The 12-way power-adjustable leather front seats are wide and comfortable, with heating and cooling. The second row offers oodles of room for adults, while the third-row seats are average in size and earmarked only for occasional use. GV80 is offered in four variants, with three powertrains, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, five or seven seats, with an optional $10,000 Luxury Package that offers a smorgasbord of features.
The seven-seat 3.0D AWD and 3.5T AWD deliver the enhanced ride and refinement of Road Preview Genesis
Adaptive Control Suspension (GACS), with heightened dynamic capability from an electro-mechanical limited slip differential (e-LSD), together with 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped in bespoke 265/40 Michelin rubber.
Our test vehicle was the seven-seater 3.0D AWD, priced from $103,476, or $113,000 driveaway (prices vary depending on where you are located). Standard luxury appointments include a mood-lit cabin with leather and real wood trim, a huge 14.5-inch HD touchscreen, 12.0-inch Head Up Display (HUD), panoramic, dual-pane sunroof and a power-operated tailgate — not forgetting 21-speaker Lexicon audio. The aforementioned Luxury Pack is available across all four variants and adds Nappa leather, 12.3-inch full screen instrument cluster, three-zone climate control, soft close doors, plus an 18-way power adjustable driver’s seat with ‘Ergo Motion’ massage function, along with heating and ventilation for second row passengers.
A 1050 watt, 21-speaker Lexicon premium sound system delivers crisp, concert hall stereophonics. The 14.5-inch infotainment screen is not just wide, it’s also nice and easy to read in virtually any light. There’s DAB digital radio, with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, 6 x Sounds of Nature background soundtracks, the ability to record up to 70 minutes of voice memo along with augmented-reality satellite navigation.
Using the front camera, the latter takes vision of the road ahead and overlays navigation instructions for what is a neat party trick, but could make some people carsick.
The safety list is a long one and includes 10 airbags and the Genesis Active Safety Control suite of technologies, including multi-function Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist (BCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go and Machine Learning functions, and a Surround View Monitor (SVM) with 3D function.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Entry five-seat GV80 2.5T RWD is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 224kW of power and 422Nm of torque, with drive to the rear wheels. GV80 2.5T AWD adds all-wheel drive and a third-row of seats. GV80 3.0D AWD introduces a refined, all-new, 3.0-litre straight-six turbo diesel with 204kW of power and hefty 588Nm of torque. The flagship GV80 3.5T AWD is headlined by the all-new, powerhouse 3.5-litre turbo petrol V6 that produces an impressive 279kW and 530Nm.
An eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles is standard across the range.
In the absence of a hybrid or some other wallet-friendly option, the diesel is our preferred option. It provides an impressive 588Nm of heavy hitting torque but uses just 8.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. Torque is the low-end grunt that big V8s are so good at producing.
Diesel achieves the same result, it just does it in a more leisurely fashion and uses less fuel in the process. There are two petrol options — a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo at $95,476 ($8000 less), or 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 at $108,476 ($5000 more) — but why bother?
The diesel is exclusive to the Genesis range and we’re told will not find its way into any Kia or Hyundai vehicles, but as they say — never say never. The well-insulated diesel provides quiet, effortless performance, with maximum torque available between 1500 and 3000 revs. The eight-speed traditional style auto is smooth and refined, with only the occasional hiccup.
GV80 has four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom, along with superfluous multi-terrain settings (I mean, who’s going to take one off road). Custom allows you to set a more responsive throttle, but keep a softer ride — as opposed to often jarring sport settings. Punch the accelerator and the GV80 gets moving, more quickly than it actually feels, with effortless roll-on acceleration.
Genesis quotes 6.8 seconds for the dash from 0 to 100km/h, with an overtaking-friendly 80-120km/h taking 5.3 seconds. To help achieve these figures and to lower fuel consumption, the doors, hood, and tailgate are made of weight-saving aluminium. Widely spaced wheels and big meaty tyres, reduce body roll and provide plenty of grip in corners.
While it’s perhaps not quite as sharp or agile as a BMW X5 or Audi Q7 when driven enthusiastically, it’s in no way disappointing.
Active noise cancelling, like that found in headphones, and a well-insulated cabin reduce engine and road noise to a minimum, and unless you’re getting up it — you wouldn’t know it was a diesel. While the interior lacks the ambience of a Lexus, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Rated at 8.8 litres per 100km, we were getting 9.1L with a long-term average of 9.8L/100km.
Instead of a spare tyre of any description, a tyre repair kit is supplied with a pressurised cylinder of goo to get you going again.
The diesel is rated to tow a 2722kg brake load, with a maximum towball weight of 182kg.
You could pay more for a Benz, BMW or Audi, but seriously – why bother? GV80 is cheaper, does everything these cars do and comes with five years of free servicing as icing on the cake. That makes it a very attractive test drive at the very least, while choosing a Genesis will demonstrate you’re not one of the sheep.
AT A GLANCE
Genesis G80 2.5T RWD: $90,600
Genesis G80 2.5T AWD: $95,600
Genesis G80 3.0D AWD: $103,600
Genesis G80 3.5T AWD: $108,600
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your Genesis dealer for drive-away prices.
Genesis GV80 3.0D, 8sp Auto, AWD
Capacity: 3.0 litres
Configuration: 3.0-litre turbo diesel, in-line 6-cylinder, 24 Valve, Double Overhead Camshaft, Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) single turbocharger, with water-to-air intercooler
Maximum Power: 204 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 588 Nm @ 1500-3000 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 232 g/km
8-speed automatic, with Active on-demand electronically controlled all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4945 mm
Wheelbase: 2955 mm
Width: 1975 mm
Height: 1715 mm
Turning Circle: 11.98 metres
Kerb Mass: 2267 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Front: 360mm x 30mm ventilated discs with 2-piston floating calipers
Rear: 360 mm x 20 mm ventilated discs with 1-piston floating calipers
Five years / Unlimited kilometres