The 2021 Genesis GV80 might look like a Bentley and have the proportions of an Audi Q7, but it’s brought to you by Hyundai.
Deliberately designed with polarising styling, the Genesis GV80 is the South Korean car giant’s first foray into full-size luxury SUVs. The Genesis GV80 has key rivals from Europe, the US and Japan in its sights – and it wanted to make a grand entrance. As Lexus is to Toyota, Genesis is to Hyundai.
There are four models in the recently arrived 2021 Genesis GV80 line-up. The range starts with a rear-wheel-drive five-seat version powered by a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine ($90,600), and followed by an all-wheel-drive seven-seat version powered by the same 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine ($95,600).
There’s also an all-wheel-drive seven-seater powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo diesel ($103,600), and an all-wheel-drive seven-seater powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol ($108,600).
All prices listed above exclude on-road costs, and Genesis says its RRPs are fixed and there's no room for negotiation.
I’m not sure that’s the right approach to attract people to a new brand, especially when you’re a start-up in a segment dominated by some of the world’s longest-standing marques – and the target audience is drawn to badges.
For now, there are only two Genesis showrooms – in metro Sydney – but Melbourne and Brisbane are due to come online in the coming months, with other Australian capital cities to follow.
Want to take a test drive? Genesis will come to you if you don’t want to visit its showroom, although that could make things awkward if you want a persistent salesperson to leave. In a showroom you can just walk away.
As you might expect, Genesis has chosen to offer more standard equipment for the same or less money than its rivals. At this stage of the game, the company is aiming to under-promise and over-deliver.
The example we’ve tested here is the top-of-the-range twin-turbo V6 petrol that, according to the Genesis website, in round numbers costs $118,400 drive-away in NSW, $121,200 drive-away in Victoria, $116,900 drive-away in Queensland, $120,200 drive-away in West Australia, and $117,700 drive-away in South Australia. Prices vary due to the different stamp duties in each state.
Metallic paint is no extra charge but matte paint adds $2000. An optional $10,000 Luxury Pack includes road-noise-cancelling speakers, nappa leather, remote parking assistance, a 3D widescreen instrument display, massage functionality for the driver’s seat, heating and cooling for the second-row seats, electric operation for the second- and third-row seats, rear autonomous emergency braking, and soft-close doors.
In addition to a choice of interior colours, standard fare includes a 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio and augmented reality satellite navigation, handwriting recognition for navigation addresses, 12-way power-adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats with memory and four-way lumbar support, and open-pore wood trim cabin highlights.
Plus, a panoramic sunroof, ambient LED cabin lighting, three-zone air-conditioning (with vents to all three rows of seats), a 21-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, a 12-inch head-up display reflected into the windscreen, and a power-operated tailgate.
Safety equipment includes 10 airbags (including a centre airbag between the front seats), autonomous emergency braking with intersection support, radar cruise control with stop-start functionality, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring (with camera vision in the instrument cluster), and rear cross-traffic alert.
Door exit warning (which detects passing cars, cyclists and motorcyclists), a 360-degree camera, and front and rear sensors complete the package.
Tyre pressure monitors are standard, and there’s a tyre inflation kit rather than a full-size or space-saver spare tyre on this model, which is less than ideal if you cop a puncture on a weekend away from the metropolis.
The cargo hold is huge, with almost one metre of floor length with the third row stowed flat, and two metres of floor length with both back rows stowed flat.
The third-row seat splits 50:50 but the second row splits 40:20:40, which can be handy for carrying large narrow items while still needing passengers to occupy a couple of seats.
There is relatively easy access to the third row after the second row is tilted forward, but back seat space is tight, with limited head room (because the roof tapers), knee room, and foot room.
There are two ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the outboard second-row seats, and three top-tether points for each of the second-row seating positions.
Towing capacity is an oddly specific 2722kg, which is fair for the class, although it only has a downball weight of 182kg. Some rivals such as the Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 can haul 3500kg and have a 350kg downball rating.
Service intervals on turbo petrol versions of the Genesis GV80 SUV are 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. Genesis provides free routine scheduled servicing for the first five years or 50,000km.
Private buyers will receive a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty; however, the coverage for businesses, fleets, and hire car operators is five years/130,000km.
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|
|Engine||3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol|
|Power and torque||279kW at 5800rpm, 530Nm at 1300–4500rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim average||11.7L/100km (95-octane premium unleaded, 80L tank)|
|Fuel use on test||9.0L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||737L/2144L|
|Towing capacity||2722kg (182kg downball weight)|
|Spare tyre||None (inflator kit)|
|ANCAP safety rating||Not yet tested|
|Warranty||5 years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7|
|Price (excluding on-road costs)||From $108,600|
On the road
The Genesis GV80 is about the same size as an Audi Q7 and, as with its German rival, extensive use of aluminium bodywork has minimised weight. All the Genesis GV80’s swing panels – the doors, bonnet and tailgate – are aluminium while the front fenders, roof, and rear panels are steel.
Despite its generous proportions it feels smaller and more nimble than it ought to, thanks in part to well-sorted suspension and steering.
Genesis has seen fit to equip the GV80 with quality Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, which deliver advantages in roundabouts, the open road, or in an emergency stop.
Using our VBox satellite timing equipment, the Genesis GV80 pulled up from 100km/h in an impressive 36.7m. This figure puts it in the same company as European thoroughbred SUVs and, in fact, was a 10 per cent shorter stopping distance than a Mercedes-Benz sedan we tested the week earlier on the same tarmac in the same conditions.
The massive front brake discs (380mm diameter) clamped by four-piston callipers deliver impressive stopping power when you need it most, but are also a key ingredient to making the car feel smaller and lighter than its dimensions suggest (this example of the GV80 weighs 2.2 tonnes).
The GV80 delivers confidence behind the wheel because the braking requires little effort and responds quickly.
The steering is smooth, light and direct, although I’m not a fan of the two-spoke steering wheel. Perhaps owners would get used to it.
In addition to excellent braking performance, the tyres also help deliver a magic-carpet-like comfort over bumps. And they were relatively quiet on most road surfaces, despite the width of the tread pattern covering the road (265/40R22 front and rear).
The twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol matched to an eight-speed conventional torque-converter automatic and constant all-wheel drive really gets a move on. (For the tech heads it produces an output of 279kW/530Nm and requires 95-octane premium unleaded as a minimum).
It’s superbly quiet (presumably some significant investment has been made in sound deadening between the cabin and the engine bay) and has massive reserves of torque, which makes it easy to thread through traffic or just coast along in the daily grind.
However, using our precision timing equipment, the Genesis GV80 is not as fast as the manufacturer’s claim. Genesis says the twin-turbo V6 variant should do the 0–100km/h dash in 5.5 seconds. Our data showed 6.6 seconds – a fair way off the claim, but still perky for this type of vehicle.
We repeated the 0–100km/h test the next day to make sure we didn’t muck up the result somehow, but we got the exact same number.
At least our real-world fuel economy got closer to the claim. In fact, we beat it. The fuel-rating label says the Genesis GV80 twin-turbo V6 petrol consumes an average of 11.7L/100km in the laboratory test cycle. During our review, which entailed mostly inter-urban and freeway driving rather than stop-start traffic or suburban snarls, we saw an average of 9.0L/100km.
At 110km/h, the engine ticks over at a leisurely 1600rpm. Based on limited city driving, the GV80 twin-turbo V6 petrol would easily eclipse a thirsty 15.0L/100km in heavy traffic. And it doesn’t have automatic idle stop-start to save a few drops of fuel when stopped.
Overall, though, the GV80 twin-turbo V6 is easy to drive and pampers occupants with a comfortable environment.
The rotary gear selector dial rather than old-school T-bar automatic lever takes a little getting used to, but otherwise all cabin controls are well placed and easy to use.
The wireless phone charger can stow large smartphones in bulky cases, and there are plenty of USB or 12V ports to use as a backup.
For now, there is no wireless Apple CarPlay, but given the problems Hyundai is having with the technology, it’s probably best the Genesis GV80 still requires an old-school cable connection for now.
Other minor observations: Genesis (and Hyundai) still don’t have speed sign recognition, and instead rely on navigation data that can quickly become out of date – and doesn’t detect works zones.
These observations aside, the Genesis GV80 is a fresh alternative in the highly competitive luxury SUV class.
It’s apparent engineers benchmarked the 2021 Genesis GV80 against Europe’s best, because in many regards it has the measure of – or is within cooee of – the big-name brands.
Unfortunately, in this class – and price range – badge snobbery is alive and well, and buyers may not consider it simply because it’s not built by one of Germany’s big three luxury marques.
After all, for this sort of money you can also buy a pretty decent Audi Q7, BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLE or Volkswagen Touareg. To convince buyers to take a punt, Genesis needs to over-deliver and under-price. At least while it builds credibility.
However, pretending for a moment European badges meant nothing – and we assessed the Genesis GV80 purely on merit rather than brand power – it’s a worthy proposition and an incredible first effort.