Hyundai introduced the first Genesis in 2008, a midsize luxury sedan with V-6 or V-8 power and rear- or all-wheel drive. It proved Hyundai could build a credible premium car, and it also proved the company needed a true luxury brand if it wanted to sell upscale vehicles.
A redesign arrived for 2015, but the Hyundai Genesis did not transform into the Genesis G80 until 2017, providing the foundation upon which the company officially launched its luxury channel.
“The core of our brand lies within the G80,” William Lee, executive vice president and global head of the Genesis brand, says in a statement. “This segment represents where we started, and we’re pleased that our newest offering achieves a perfect balance of discerning luxury and inspiring performance for our customers.”
Lee is referring to the completely redesigned ’21 Genesis G80. It joins the updated G90 flagship sedan and new GV80 midsize SUV as Genesis moves quickly to gain momentum in a competitive market.
Finding the white space in the luxury segment is the unspoken mission for Genesis. The brand offers ownership perks such as complimentary maintenance, service valet and connected services for the first three years of ownership.
Now, with its emerging 2021 lineup, Genesis seeks to distinguish itself further with design, performance and technology.
Behind the G80’s bold grille and quad headlights, global markets will have three engines from which to choose. A turbocharged 2.5L 4-cyl. is standard, making 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and 311 lb.-ft. (422 Nm) of torque between 1,650 rpm and 4,000 rpm. A turbocharged 3.5L V-6 delivers 375 hp at 5,800 rpm and 391 lb.-ft. (530 Nm) of torque from 1,300 rpm to 4,500 rpm. An 8-speed automatic transmission powers the rear wheels, and all-wheel-drive is available.
In some parts of the world, the G80 offers a turbocharged 2.2L 4-cyl. diesel generating 207 hp at 3,800 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. (441 Nm) from 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm. This engine is not slated for the U.S. market.
Genesis promises the G80 will provide improved ride and handling characteristics, thanks to a lower center of gravity and a lighter vehicle architecture, 19% of which is aluminum.
All ’21 G80 models offer driver-selected driving modes, rack-mounted electric steering, and 19-in. aluminum alloy wheels. Upgrades include 20-in. wheels, larger front brakes with 4-piston calipers and an electronic adaptive damping suspension with Road Preview.
Using the car’s forward-facing camera, Road Preview can read the surface of the pavement and adjust the suspension before the rubber meets rough sections of the road.
From behind the steering wheel (left), the ’21 Genesis G80 promises a quiet, soothing motoring experience. It features double-glazed soundproof glass, multicolor ambient lighting, an air purification system and 12-way power adjustable front seats wrapped in leather. Heated front and rear seats and ventilated front seats help ward off unpleasant weather.
Options include 18-way power adjustable active front seats with posture correction, ventilated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and an 18-speaker Lexicon premium surround sound system.
A 14.5-in. (37-cm) widescreen infotainment system resides to the right of a 12.3-in. (31-cm) digital instrument panel. In South Korea, where the car went on sale March 30, the instrument cluster is optionally rendered in 3-D and adjusts to the driver’s line of sight.
The infotainment display is a touchscreen, and a Genesis Integrated Controller supporting handwriting recognition is mounted to the center console.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and navigation are standard, the latter updated over the air as necessary. Genesis says the system is compatible with smart home technology and applications. A new Valet Mode ensures no personal information appears on the display when someone else is driving the car.
Give the available Remote Smart Parking Assist system a try. It autonomously parks the ’21 G80 whether the driver is sitting in the car or standing outside of it. This is the same comprehensive system Hyundai offers in the Nexo fuel-cell vehicle, not the more basic technology in the ’20 Sonata and ’21 Elantra.
Safety features range from 10 airbags, including a front center airbag between the driver and passenger, to the latest advanced driving-assistance systems in the Genesis arsenal.
Highlights include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking that now senses cross-traffic threats as the ’21 G80 approaches an intersection, active blind-spot warning that can stop the car if you attempt to exit a parallel parking space when traffic is approaching from behind and an adaptive cruise control system with machine learning that adapts to driving styles.
The G80 also introduces expanded Highway Driving Assist capabilities. This high-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-centering-assist system adds support for signaled lane changes and for when other motorists cut into the gap in traffic ahead.
When the ’21 Genesis G80 goes on sale in North America during second-half 2020, it will compete with midsize luxury sedans such as the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo S90. Will it find the white space necessary for success with a formula that has proven elusive for Acura, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus and others?
Initial impressions suggest that it might.