The headline isn’t a typo, and the picture isn’t of the new Bentley. If you’re like us, that may have constituted a double-take. What you’re looking at is the new Genesis G80.
For the uninitiated, Genesis is Hyundai’s luxury vehicle division. Stateside, we’re not yet accustomed to seeing many of these on the road, as production on their flagship model only started in earnest in 2016. Some variations on the G80 were in production prior to this under the auspices of Hyundai’s Genesis DH line, but for the most part, we’re dealing with something of a blank slate and an introductory handshake for the G80.
We’ll start with how it looks. Of course, your mileage may vary (no bad driving puns intended), but we’re a huge fan of both the exterior and the interior aesthetic. The design language for the G80 is a sharp 50-50 mixup of classic, “safe” executive posh with some surprisingly cutting and modern touches, particularly the wheels and the grating anywhere on the front of the vehicle. Other automakers have tried – and failed – to marry these design concepts. The G80 was brought to bear by engineers who apparently had no such trouble at the drawing board.
At a glance, Genesis’ G80 impresses, but the wow factor really hits when you take a look inside. With their sights set primarily on luxury, the engineers have left little to be desired here. The design manages to, much like the car’s exterior, take some decidedly modern and showy adornments and make them work very well with a classic baseline. It’s worth repeating that far more automakers have failed at this than have succeeded, and the G80 seriously impresses here for that reason.
The materials used for the interior are quite rich in appearance and in particular, we find that the red-on-black checkerboard leather patterning is quite striking. Sporting circular knob controls in the center console for many of the car’s onboard functions, the driver will have at their disposal easy and quick control of a 14.5” infotainment system, a purpose-fit Lexicon audio system, and a full suite of luxury and comfort-focused features (heated seats are a plus this time of year, for obvious reasons).
Genesis are well aware of the fact that drivers aren’t likely to buy the G80 because they’re trying to shave a few seconds off their track times. As a result, the engine on the G80 is purpose-built and tuned for luxury and comfort by default. A sportier version (V6) is available for those looking to make the car into something of a grand tourer or sports sedan, but the car’s standard configuration sees it host an inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts 300 horsepower on the ground. Resulting from this is a smooth, enthusiastic yet relaxed ride that will pleasantly surprise many.
The G80 takes some risks, and to be candid, they paid off. It’s far more common to see a modern-meets-classic design aesthetic these days that offends rather than astounds, but Genesis’ offering refuses to oblige the stereotypes. Put simply, the car looks, feels, and drives extremely well, and may be one of the better value-for-money propositions Hyundai have on the tarmac right now. That’s saying something.
Video courtesy of AutoAcademics