Genesis GV80 2021 2.5t awd
launch-review

2021 Genesis GV80 review

Australian first drive

Rating: 8.4
$90,600 $108,600 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    10.4L
  • Engine Power
    224kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    243g
  • ANCAP Rating
    9Stars
The Genesis GV80 is finally on local roads, and it's hard not to be impressed by the new luxury flagship. It's a segment that Genesis needs to succeed in, too.
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If you reckon the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV is an important model for the still relatively young Hyundai flagship brand, you’d be right.

Yes, it showcases the best of what Genesis can do, and for that reason alone it’s a vital new model. It also happens to be a large SUV, though, and Australians tend to like that segment quite a bit.

Therefore, it needs to hit the ground running in this country.

The GV80 is not new to CarAdvice, though. It impressed us overseas at its international launch. It impressed us on static display at the Genesis gallery in the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney, and didn’t look remotely out of place surrounded by Sydney’s luxury brand stores. Now, we get to test the GV80 on local roads. Fair to say, we’ve been looking forward to it, too.

First up, though, pricing. I, for one, love the non-negotiable sales model that Genesis is forging ahead with in this country. Survey any non-enthusiast new car buyer, and the haggling, negotiating and back and forth with the salesperson is usually their least favourite aspect of the buying experience.

The idea that you start somewhere, bargain your way down, and hope you secured a good deal is something that doesn’t sit well with a lot of buyers.

Some of you might disagree with that, and that’s fine. But when you think about it, you don’t really get to haggle with any other new luxury item. Watches, bags, shoes, you name it, there’s a price and you either pay it or you don’t.

Whether the non-negotiable RRP model works in Australia is something we don’t really know yet, but Genesis will provide a fascinating case study.

2021 Genesis GV80
Engine3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol
Power and torque 279kW @ 5800rpm, 530Nm @ 1300-4500rpm
Transmissioneight-speed automatic
Drive typeall-wheel drive
Kerb weight2248kg
Fuel claim combined (ADR)11.7L/100km
fuel use on test12.8L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up / down)737L/2144L
Turning circle11.9 metres
ANCAP safety ratingNot tested yet.
Warranty5 years / unlimited km
Main competitorsLexus LX, BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7
Price as tested (ex on-road costs)From $108,600

Three engines headline the GV80 range, and there are four models to choose from with both RWD and AWD available. The range starts with the 2.5T RWD ($90,600), followed by the 2.5T AWD ($95,600), the 3.0D AWD ($103,600) and the 3.5T AWD ($108,600). You can read our pricing and specification guide for the detailed information, with all models getting an eight-speed automatic transmission and a long list of standard equipment, too.

We tested both the 3.5T (petrol) engine and the 3.0D (diesel) engine at launch. The 2.5T is a four-cylinder petrol engine making 224kW and 422Nm.

Step up to the 3.5T and you get a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine punching out 279kW and 530Nm. The oiler is an inline six and makes 204kW and 588Nm.

There’s a lot to like across the board there, and potential buyers will face an interesting conundrum choosing between diesel and petrol. At launch on largely country roads, the diesel used an indicated 8.9L/100km, while the petrol V6 sat in the low 11s. That’s hardly inefficient for what is a large luxury SUV, so the choice between the two might be harder than it otherwise could be.

Personal preference on driving dynamics and engagement, then? I reckon I’d take the petrol, but only just.

Genesis has lofty aspirations, both internally and outwardly, and on face value alone it’s fair to say the GV80 is one serious step in the right direction. The styling is eye-catching, classy, distinguished and different. That last point might be the most critical. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about the GV80 the way we see it.

The GV80 looks classy on either the 20-inch or 22-inch wheels, the massive grille that could look clunky doesn’t, and the signature quad-LED headlights look eye-catching regardless which of the exterior hues takes your fancy. Forest Green for us please.

Cutting a sharp figure parked up is only part of the journey, though. Ultimately, the luxury buyer wants substance as much as style. We’ll need more than a couple of days with the GV80 to properly familiarise ourselves with its litany of tech and equipment inclusions, such is the list of standard equipment.

What we can tell you, though, is the execution of the cabin, the fit and finish of the materials, and the general ambience of the drive experience are right up with the best of them.

Open the door and the quality of the cabin is immediately evident. Beautiful leather trim, lovely detail touches such as the uniformity of the stitching, the contrast between hard and soft-touch surfaces, deep-pile carpet and luxurious-looking controls all suggest a much higher buy-in price than the real price indicates.

The transmission selector dial is nicely integrated into a console that doesn’t look or feel cluttered. There’s an upmarket feel to the controls across the board that adds to the sense of luxury while delivering on a uniquely Genesis execution.

The 14.5-inch infotainment screen, for example, is not just broad, it’s also clear, easy to read in any light, works beautifully with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and features augmented-reality satellite navigation. The 12.0-inch head-up display is also tastefully executed.

The 12-way power-adjustable leather front seats are heated and ventilated, and designed for long cross-country drives in comfort. There’s also memory and four-way lumbar support. There’s so much room in the first- and second-row seats, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a limousine, and to be honest that might be the point.

You can still step things up a notch from standard, of course – another requirement for the luxury buyer. Opt for the luxury package, for example, and you get such technology as a 12.3-inch digital 3D instrument cluster, which you never knew you needed until you see it.

Running through the standard feature list, though, would take a week, there’s that much included. Plenty of buyers will decide they don’t need the luxury pack, too, and it comes with a $10,000 ask, but you won’t feel like you’re missing out, such is the standard offering.

Crucially, for me, and you could argue we may have been a little harsh in not giving the brand time to evolve, but there is nothing that feels ‘Hyundai’ about the Genesis.

Previous Genesis models didn’t step far enough, and perhaps boldly enough, away from their little sibling. That statement needs to be qualified, too, as there’s nothing wrong with Hyundai quality or execution, but the fact the GV80 feels like a unique model is a strong point the way we see it.

Aside from the tightness of the third row, and the fact that the two-spoke steering wheel might take some getting used to, there’s precious little to even raise the slightest irritation in the GV80's cabin. It really is that good. The luggage space is huge, as you'd expect - 737 litres with the second row in play and a whopping 2144 litres with the second row folded down.

In fact, it’s a blinding endorsement to the understated, less-is-more philosophy that a few other auto manufacturers could take note of. Switches and complexity don’t necessarily signify luxury.

The drive experience is, pretty much immediately, as impressive as we hoped it might be. Coarse-chip B-roads are no match for the cabin’s refinement, even when you’re rolling on the 22-inch hoops. The GV80 only bottoms out on the nastiest of country potholes and washouts, and it’s otherwise a calm and relaxed cruise.

The V6 is obviously the top-end performance choice, with the willing, free-revving nature you would expect of a petrol engine aided by turbo assistance. The diesel, on the other hand, has that punchy mid-range we’ve come to expect from the best oilers. Like I wrote above, the choice between those two will be a tough one.

Regardless of engine choice, the pairing with the in-house-developed eight-speed automatic transmission is admirable. It’s smooth, effortless, and beautifully refined at any speed. Off-the-line punch is meaty enough, and roll-on overtaking is as easy as you like. You basically forget there is a conventional automatic working away under the skin, such is the seamless nature of the drivetrain.

Even after a good few hours behind the wheel, the sense of serenity inside the cabin is noteworthy – something you keep coming back to. It’s aided by the ride quality, not to mention the clever active noise-cancelling technology that is at play, but to almost completely mute the road noise from wide 265 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres is impressive.

The ride itself is a neat blend of comfort and togetherness. The GV80 could have ended up either too firm or too wafty, but it strikes a near-perfect balance between the two. If it does take a hit, it settles quickly with assurance and levels back out just as fast. There’s barely any register inside the cabin.

There’s so much tech to test at a later date, we’ll have to report back on a lot of it once we get to spend some more time with the GV80.

For mine, the blind-spot monitoring system is a little too eager to rein you back in, especially on country roads where the line marking is a little, shall we say, haphazard. The active camera that appears inside the gauge display when you hit the indicator is remarkably clear and handy, though.

Part of the luxury expectation comes with the after-purchase experience, too, and Genesis is determined to deliver that to its customers.

There's a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, a five-year/50,000km complimentary scheduled service package, a five-year/24/7 complimentary roadside assistance cover, five years of complimentary map upgrades, a five-year complimentary 'Genesis To You' + valet service, and finally a two-year complimentary Genesis Lifestyle Concierge.

After my initial experience with the GV80 on typical local roads, it’s hard not to be impressed with the quality of the execution and the end product. Genesis might be a young brand in real terms, but the GV80 is an exceptional luxury SUV.

Lexus has shown that the right product, and perhaps more crucially the right ownership experience, can deliver real success in Australia, and it’s hard to see that Genesis isn’t primed for the fight.

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