Punching above its weight class is always a way to be noticed. Think of the slight schoolyard kid who packs a wallop when confronted by the playground bully. That’s a perfect analogy to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport.
Now in its second year of production, you may have remembered a previous version known as the Hyundai Genesis. At the time, it was part of a high-zoot tag team partnership with the Hyundai Equus. Both were good, but with the breakneck speed of advancements the brand, and the industry seemingly make, they were quickly surpassed both on the outside and within. In that sense, this new luxury spinoff from Hyundai is punching above, and actually landing a few blows along the way.
Exhibit A: The G80 Sport sedan. It’s a muscular four-door that admittedly shouldn’t show up for track days at your local racecar country club and day spa, but does manage to transport its occupants in luxury, while managing to not squeeze its owner’s bottom line. Oh, and did we mention its 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty?
Clearly the best value in midsize luxury cars today, it competes against the Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class, and BMW 5-series. It is loaded with nearly everything a salaryman could hope for as he climbs the corporate ladder. The 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 is a direct injection powerhouse that makes 365 horsepower and a genuine 376 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission that does everything asked of it, even if the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are a little on the smallish side. Zero-to-60 mph times come on in 5.3-seconds for this somewhat heavy (4,519-pounds) lead sled, but it still imparts a sense of power by way of the growl that comes on while added pressure is loaded on the skinny pedal. Quiet isolation is this sedan’s strong suit.
In the oft chance that you don’t speak turbo, the G80 can be equipped with either a 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 or a 311 horsepower 3.8-liter V6.
The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport includes nearly every item on the Genesis options list except for the available winter-oriented AWD system, which comes with a heated steering wheel and a $2,500 price tag. A huge standard panoramic sunroof lets enough UV light in to insure your dermatologist is able to send all four of his children to college. One thing we would love to see in the Genesis lineup is an alignment with a major watchmaker for an added sense of caché. Mercedes-Benz dances with IWC. Bentley rides with Breitling. Ferrari shuffles with Panerai. It goes a long way to help boost a car’s bonafides, especially in this luxury segment, where attention to detail is everything.
The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport is a real charmer, but it’s not without a few minor quibbles. We found at various times the volume on the stellar Lexicon (by Harman) audio system with Clari-Fi would creep up prompting us to reach towards the centerstack for a quick readjustment. Soon we discovered we were riding along with the air conditioning blowing a balmy 85-degrees. That’s’ a result of Genesis designers placing the climate control dials where the volume and tuning knobs of the audio system are traditionally located.
Secondly, and this might be a bit more subjective, and perhaps a result of not being gifted with an adequately padded gluteus, but to our bottoms, the Genesis interior designers apparently received their degrees from the Major League Baseball College of Seating Design. The seat cushions in the Genesis are as hard as a bench in the dugouts of Chicago’s Wrigley Field (Home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs).
But does it go?
Power from the 3.3T spooled up rather quickly, putting out almost V8 power with the mileage of something you would expect in a Hyundai Accent. Not really, but you get our drift. While the Comfort settings did the job for the most part, we found the Sport gate to be much more engaging on backroads where we had a chance to see this Genesis unwind. When you hit the Drive Dynamics button to go from Eco to Comfort to Sport, things firm up in the steering and throttle departments. The suspension, whether it actually does or not, felt like it firmed up, too.
Critics commented how audacious it was that a South Korean econo-car company felt like it was time to compete with the big boys. Along the way, there have been fits and starts but they seemed to get fixed quickly as the Genesis brand does not seem content to work things out over the long term.
We find their rate of progress to be part of a plan that includes punching above that weight class, and making a name for themselves in relatively short order. With the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport, they are on a fast track.
Story and photos by Mark Elias
2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Base MSRP: $55,250 As tested: $56,225.
Includes: Destination fee, $975.
Power: 365 hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Drive Type Rear Wheel Drive
Gearbox: 8-Speed Shiftronic Automatic Transmission
Tire Size: 245/40R19 F 275/35/19 R
Unladen Weight: 4,519-pounds
Cargo Volume: 15.3 cubic feet