The Genesis G80 limousine has returned to Australian showrooms after a two-year break – minus its Hyundai badging and with a higher price.
Although it has the mainstream limousine market mostly to itself these days, it’s still a favourite among hire car drivers looking to replace the iconic Holden Caprice.
However, buying one isn't as straightforward as it was before. Rather than being available through Hyundai’s dealer network, the Genesis G80 will now only be sold through standalone Genesis dealerships. The first showroom opened in the Sydney CBD this week. Brisbane and Melbourne are due to follow in 2020.
The company has also switched to 'non-negotiable' prices – a move made possible given that each Genesis showroom will be factory-owned rather than run by independent dealers.
The revised Genesis G80 now costs from $68,900 to $92,900 plus on-road costs – an increase of between $8900 and $10,900 depending on the model – even though it is essentially the same car with a new badge, revised suspension and a new electronic gear shifter.
According to the Genesis website, this translates to between approximately $76,500 drive-away and $97,500 drive-away. Stamp duties vary from state to state, so be sure to check the Genesis website for an exact price.
Hire car operators won’t get the same generous fleet discount as before. Previous savings were close to 20 per cent off the full retail price, but CarAdvice understands the discount has been halved to about 10 per cent off the RRP.
It means even the loyal hire car operators who’ve been responsible for most of the 1200 Genesis limousines sold so far in Australia will be paying more for the new model.
There is one more mitigating factor: a completely new Genesis G80 is due early next year. The runout model was meant to be on sale last year, but was pushed back by a series of delays for the local launch of the brand.
What does the Genesis G80 cost?
- G80 3.8 – $68,900 plus on-road costs
- G80 3.8 Sport Design – $72,900 plus on-road costs
- G80 3.8 Ultimate – $88,900 plus on-road costs
- G80 3.8 Ultimate Sport Design – $92,900 plus on-road costs
But all Genesis G80 buyers receive free servicing for the first five years/75,000km – whichever comes first – based on service intervals of 12 months/15,000km.
All new G80 variants are powered by the same 3.8-litre V6 (232kW/397Nm) as the 2014 model, still paired to an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.
As before, the 3.8-litre V6 runs on 91 regular unleaded petrol, but a software recalibration has trimmed fuel consumption from the previous rating of 11.2L/100km to 10.4L/100km.
A more fuel-efficient four-cylinder option available on the G80 overseas was considered, but dismissed by the factory as it was not developed for right-hand drive.
The Genesis G80’s boot capacity of 493L is the same as before, but not as cavernous as the now discontinued Holden Caprice (531L), though it’s larger than the other competitor in the hire car class, the Lexus ES300h (454L). Hands-free boot opening is standard on all models.
The infotainment system’s 9.2-inch screen with embedded navigation and 17-speaker premium audio are the same as before. However, the G80 still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto because it is based on an older design. A wireless charging pad remains part of the package.
All models come with dual-zone air-conditioning and front seats with heating and electric adjustment. Higher-grade models get cooling as well as heating, and more electric adjustment in the front seats, plus heating for the outboard rear seats.
The front passenger seat on all model grades has a switch within reach of the driver, which enables it to be slid forward to create more legroom for back seat passengers.
Standard safety equipment on all models includes nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, auto-dipping high beam, lane-departure warning (though not lane-keeping assistance), individual tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera.
On the road
The Genesis G80 might be an old design, but the chassis is holding its age well. For a big sedan nearly the size of a Holden Caprice, it’s relatively refined, powerful, sure-footed and covers ground in comfort.
All Genesis G80 sedans also now come with adaptive control suspension, previously only available on overseas models. As with the smaller Genesis G70, the suspension was tested locally and adapted to Australian conditions.
Luxury variants come with 18-inch alloy wheels with cushioned Hankook Ventus tyres. Sport variants come with 19-inch alloys and low-profile Dunlop SP Sport tyres, with wider rims at the rear.
We started our media test drive in a regular model equipped with 18-inch wheels and tyres.
The Sport variants with the 19-inch charcoal-coloured alloys and Dunlop tyres might look the business, but for what it’s worth, the 18s do a better job over patchwork and lumpy roads, and would be my choice if the primary purpose were to transport customers in comfort.
Because cars like this are so long and heavy, they can be susceptible to floating and not recovering well after bumps, and you end up porpoising down the road. That’s not the case with the G80. The revised suspension has great control, recovering from bumps without jarring or feeling floaty. It’s rare to reach such a good compromise.
The exceptions to this observation are the Sport models running on 19-inch wheels and tyres. The Dunlops are grippier but they’re noisy, and their lower-profile rubber means they don’t absorb bumps quite as well as the same car on 18s. If you prefer the look of the 19s that’s fine, but your passengers won’t be quite as pampered as they would be in a car running on 18s.
The eight-speed automatic transmission isn’t as intuitive in sports mode on winding roads as the transmissions in other cars. However, most drivers will be using the Genesis G80 in stop-start traffic and commuting between airports and CBDs. In that type of driving, it’s a smooth operator.
The interior is starting to look a little dated, but the quality of the fit and finish is excellent, with some small touches in real aluminium, although the door handles are still plastic and lack the quality feel of a car in this class. It’s a shame the budget didn’t stretch to coming up with a new finish to replace the fake wood dash insert because that could have given the cabin a lift.
Then again, most G80 passengers occupy the back seat, which is as comfortable as ever, with similar rear legroom to a Holden Caprice. There is also the option of reclining back seats, but that effectively turns the back row into a two-seater due to the sculpting, and if you want to use the cabin comfort controls in the fold-down centre armrest.
Overall, the Genesis G80 will suit the needs of most hire car drivers. It has a luxury car presence when waiting at airport ranks, a roomy and plush interior, and is still a refined driving experience.
If the 1200 or so customers – most of them hire car drivers – who bought one as a Hyundai are a guide, the G80 will also be a relatively reliable operator with lower maintenance costs than most limousines from European brands.
Private buyers, however, may prefer a more modern alternative in the form of a Lexus ES300h, BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class.
If you really want a Genesis, though, there’s one more option: wait for the new-generation G80 due in early 2020.
The Genesis G80 is still a great choice for hire car operators. But its price rise combined with Genesis’s 'not negotiable' policy for private buyers – and a reduction in discounts to fleet car operators – may blunt its appeal in a category where substantial discounts are commonplace.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling