The Genesis brand was introduced for 2016 in the United States with two models – the G80 and the G90. Before the introduction of the Genesis brand, the G80 was known in the US as the Hyundai Genesis Sedan while the G90 was known as the Hyundai Equus. For 2017, the G80 Sport was introduced with a new twin turbo V6 and unique styling and it was that sportier sedan that I spent a week driving earlier this winter.
Although the G80 Sport is offered with all-wheel-drive, my test car with a rear-drive version and in the time that I had it, the Metro Detroit area was pounded with ice and snow, but with the standard all-season tires – the 365-horsepower Genesis sedan proved to be a great luxury machine in the winter weather.
Why the G80 “Left” Hyundai
When I discuss the Genesis G80 Sport or any of the models from this new brand, many people ask why Hyundai needed to split the Genesis and Equus off to their own brand. Frankly, it is because those two luxury sedans simply didn’t fit in with the rest of the Hyundai lineup, and that isn’t meant as a slight against the Hyundai brand.
Since Hyundai was introduced in the US, the Korean automaker has focused on low cost and value. In the recent years, the brand has worked to offer premium features without a premium price, so the likes of the Sonata and Elantra are far nicer inside and out than many of the competitors in their respective segments. That upscale aim by the modern Hyundai lineup allowed the luxurious Genesis and Equus models to make sense, but at the end of the day, premium luxury sedans didn’t quite fit in with a lineup of budget-friendly economy cars.
In much the same way that the Lexus GS350 wouldn’t fit in the Toyota lineup or how the Acura NSX wouldn’t fit in with the Honda lineup, the Genesis and Equus deserved to be featured beyond simply being the nicest vehicles at your local Hyundai dealership.
While some people wonder why the Genesis and Equus needed their own brand, it makes far more sense for these two impressive luxury sedans to have a brand of their own to more accurately battle the likes of Acura, Infiniti and Lexus.
RWD G80 Sport Vs Detroit’s Winter
I took delivery of my 2018 Genesis G80 Sport test vehicle in the midst of an especially snowy point of this winter. We had snow the morning that the car arrived and while it melted away long enough for me to enjoy one day on clear roads, that day was capped off with rain that transitioned to snow, coating the local roads in a sheet of ice that made driving miserable for many people.
In many cases, a rear-wheel-drive, twin turbocharged luxury sedan might seem like one of the least interesting options for fighting a week or snow and ice and when I first saw the forecast, I was not looking forward to struggling with the snow. I had hoped that the car would have an aggressive snow tire, but when it arrived, it was shod with the standard all-season tires.
I headed out that first day with the expectation of slow-going in the snow, but to my surprise, the G80 Sport handled the snowy roads very well. Of course, you can mash the throttle and drive like a maniac, but when driven with a dose of common sense, the RWD Genesis sedan allowed me to make it from point A to point B without much stress. From turning to braking to accelerating, the G80 Sport with all-season tires never failed me in the winter weather.
In fact, I had planned to drive to Ohio to pick up lightweight wheels and drag radials for my Hellcat Challenger before the snow hit. Even with the messy roads, I headed out on the two hour trip from my home in Michigan to the seller in Ohio. Along the way, I saw countless AWD and 4WD vehicles that had slid off of the slippery road, but the combination of the G80’s surefootedness and my years of winter driving experience allowed me to make the trip without any problem.
In other words, if you live in an area that gets lots of snowfall, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport is one rear-drive car that will allow you to drive it year-round – although a good set of snow tires would likely make it nearly unstoppable in the winter mess.
Twin Turbo Fun on Clear Roads
During the week I spent driving the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport, I had one day where the skies and road were clear. It was still cold, but the driving conditions were nice enough that I could exercise the 365-horsepower twin turbo V6.
I wouldn’t call the twin turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 laggy, but this mill doesn’t quite offer the initial pop that you get with the naturally aspirated V8 in the non-Sport G80. However, when you launch this Korean luxury sedan hard from a stop, it doesn’t take long for the turbos to spool up and – traction permitting – the G80 accelerates well up past any posted speed limit in a hurry. With the help of the steering wheel mounted shift paddles, it is easy to keep the revs up when driving the G80 hard, so when you want big mid-range acceleration, a careful gear selection makes this sedan surprisingly stout on a highway pull.
Acceleration aside, the G80 Sport handles well in tight corners and on the broad, sweeping turns of the highway. Mind you, it was cold out so I wasn’t hammering the car into turns, but at highway speeds, the Genesis handled the sweeping turns confidently and in tight turns, the big sedan is surprisingly nimble.
I bet that in nicer weather, the Genesis G80 Sport will blast through the turns as well as many of the competitive sedans in the mid-sized luxury segment. More importantly, even on the Detroit roads that have been battered by winter, the G80 Sport offers the smooth-yet-connected ride that has become expected of a sporty midsized luxury sedan.
A Beautiful Interior
While the G80 Sport offers the most dynamic driving experience of the model line, Genesis is a luxury brand and the cabin of this roomy sedan leaves no question of that.
The front and rear seats are all wrapped in plush leather with thick, comfortable padding. The front seats have deep bolsters, power controls and are both cooled and heated while the rear outboard positions are heated, but not cooled. The front and rear seats all offer a ton of passenger space in every direction, making this a car that come comfortably seat four tall adults.
In term of infotainment technology, the Genesis G80 Sport has everything that you could want in a luxury sedan. The gauge cluster has a 7-inch information screen with a variety of readout options, all of which are controlled with the buttons and knobs on the steering wheel. There is also a heads-up display system that I love, making it easy to keep an eye on your speed when cruising down the road.
The star of the show is the 9.2-inch infotainment screen that offers touchscreen control, along with an array of buttons and knobs on the center stack, the steering wheel controls and a great control panel mounted near the center armrest. With this central knob and buttons, the driver can flip though the radio stations, climate controls or navigation options with his or her elbow on the armrest. The controls are a bit redundant, but the G80 infotainment system prevents the driver from reaching and looking all over the cabin to make changes on the fly, and I really like the ease of use.
That infotainment system also controls the 17-speaker Lexicon sound system that offers solid sound quality at high volume levels, so whether you like rock, rap or talk radio – this sound system will suit your audio needs. This isn’t the best system in the segment, but it is very good and shy of hardcore audiophiles, the Genesis Lexicon system will be a popular option with owners.
Finally, while I didn’t get to enjoy it, the G80 Sport comes with big, beautiful panoramic sunroof that offers open-air driving above the front seats and the glass roof experience over the rear seats.
Big Luxury, Small Price
My 2018 Genesis G80 Sport had a base price of $55,250 and all of the features mentioned here are standard, so the only addition to the price is the destination charge of $975, bringing the price as test to $56,225.
When you consider all of the standard features of the rear-drive 2018 G80 Sport, $56k is a great price, so if you are in the market for a fun-to-drive mid-sized luxury sedan on a budget, this Genesis is one vehicle that you have to drive before making your next big purchase. From appearance to driving dynamics to the loaded interior, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport, this is a remarkable luxury-sport sedan for the money.