Luxury sedans certainly aren't what they used to be in the automotive pantheon, largely supplanted in the buying public's eyes by SUVs. However, a sleek and elegant sedan can still turn heads, and with the 2021 Genesis G80, we think that some swiveling is bound to occur. Though its shape is certainly evocative of the Audi A7, that's not really a bad thing, and there are more than enough unique details to make it something other than a copycat. It's also the first G80 you can't describe as bland, as it presents more reasons than just a low price and long warranty for folks to consider it instead of established segments entries like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.
That's particularly the case inside, where Genesis has really stepped things up in terms of quality, technology and a unique design that should definitely stand out during back-to-back test drives of various luxury sedans. It looks and feels special inside. The huge, standard 14.5-inch touchscreen with iPod-like secondary controller stands out in particular for being feature-rich and user-friendly, which is a rarity in luxury cars. There's also tons of space in the comfy back seat, which is a big part of buying a big luxury sedan like the G80.
How it drives is obviously a big part, but to this point, we've only taken a glorified trip around the block in it. The suspension feels as sophisticated behind the wheel as it looks when taking a peek behind the wheels, and the engine specs suggest plenty of oomph, but we'll have to reserve full judgment for later. Still, our brief taste suggests a sedan that should definitely be taken seriously.
What's new for 2021?
The G80 is completely redesigned for 2021 and represents the third generation of a car that began life as the Hyundai Genesis.
What's the interior and in-car technology like?
Admittedly, the G80 we've experienced was a top-of-the-line 3.5T Prestige model with deep blue leather accented in chocolate brown and rich matte-finish wood trim. It really looks sensational. Unique, too, which is definitely something that matters in this high-priced segment. Lower trims are available with different two-tone schemes (see photo gallery below), which may not be as distinctive, but are still quite classy and memorable. In general, we don't anticipate a considerable dropoff in interior quality or ambience between trim levels.
Quality throughout is excellent, with many surfaces covered in a convincing leather substitute, plus that opulent stretch of wood across the dash and on the center console. New switchgear is exclusive to Genesis (no more Hyundai bits and pieces) and everything looks and feels like it belongs in a proper luxury car.
Standard is the new Genesis infotainment system that consists of an immense 14.5-inch touchscreen supported by a center console controller that basically acts like an old iPod thumbwheel. This combination of new-and-old Apple-style control interfaces sure seemed to make sense in our brief, static sampling – touch is great for many functions, but the wheel makes scrolling through songs, contacts or radio stations much easier. We also like that Genesis maintains physical controls for volume, tuning and various menu shortcuts.
As for what it all controls, the feature content is immense but the layout is simple. If there was any area where the G80 is clearly related to a Hyundai it's here, and it's a good thing. Though a tad fancier in appearance (a defused image of nighttime Seoul sits in the background of menus, for instance), its functionality is just as excellent as what you get in the top-of-the-line Sonata. Actually, it's just a bit better due to its two extra inches of screen width.
How big is it?
Genesis has not released dimensions for the 2021 G80, but we've seen the car in person, sat inside and even stuffed luggage in its trunk. In short, it's a big sedan. If it's longer than a BMW 5 Series, we wouldn't be surprised. There is plenty of backseat legroom, as your 6-foot-3 author was able to comfortably sit behind his own driving position. There was also sufficient headroom despite that sloping roofline.
As for the seats themselves, they are surprisingly contoured and decidedly un-bench-like. You should be able to ride comfortably back there for long stretches of time. The front seats, meanwhile, can be heated, ventilated and offer a range of adjustments, including a power cushion extender and adjustable side bolsters that can automatic push in and out depending on drive mode.
We don't have an official cargo number, but we managed to bring along our luggage test bags for our first look of the 2021 G80. We could fit everything except the biggest roller bag inside, but there was still plenty of space left over. In total, it's not quite as good as a midsize sedan like a Hyundai Sonata, but that's actually normal for this luxury segment that sacrifices space for styling and rear-wheel-drive architecture.
What's the performance and fuel economy?
The 2021 G80 comes standard with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four that produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is standard, and there'll be a choice of standard rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.
The upgrade engine is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that produces 375 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. It has the same transmission and drivetrain options as the 2.5T. No fuel economy or 0-60 performance data were provided at the time of this writing.
What's it like to drive?
We were really only able to drive the G80 slowly around a parking lot, as it was unlicensed. We know its adaptive suspension pitches ever-so-slightly in turns like a Mercedes does, and the steering has a linear, natural feel to its weighting, but that's about it. Stay tuned.
What features are available and what's the price?
Usually, pricing is the last thing to be announced when a new car is introduced, but in the case of the 2021 Genesis G80, it's one of the first. Things start at $47,700, including the $1,025 destination charge, for the base, rear-wheel-drive G80 2.5T. The all-wheel-drive 2.5T starts at $51,875.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, an advanced adaptive cruise control and a full suite of driver assist tech (see Safety section below), heated eight-way power front seats, leatherette upholstery, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the 14.5-inch touchscreen.
The Advanced package ($4,600) adds 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a power trunk, three-zone auto climate control, ventilated front seats, matte finish wood trim, rear sunshades and a 21-speaker Lexicon sound system.
The 3.5T starts at $60,125 for RWD and $63,275 for AWD. It basically comes standard with the Advanced package but adds upgraded brakes and an adaptive suspension that anticipates road imperfections, plus leather upholstery, wireless charging, soft-close doors and a near-field communication digital key.
Those interior extras are also added in the 2.5T's Prestige package ($8,300) along with extra driver assistance systems (see below) and an enhanced driver seat. The 3.5T Prestige package ($6,000) goes even further by adding Nappa leather seats, a microfiber suede headliner, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a head-up display and an upgraded all-digital instrument panel.
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
Every 2021 Genesis G80 comes with the latest and greatest in Hyundai Group's substantial safety system arsenal. The standard forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking not only detects pedestrians, but traffic coming from the left and right at intersections. Lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and a driver inattention warning system are all standard, as is an advanced adaptive cruise control system with automated lane changes, highway steering assist and a unique AI-based system that apparently learns the driver's driving characteristics and adapts its automated driving to be similar. We're very curious to test that.
Optional systems include Hyundai's Smart Park assist, a surround-view parking camera and an enhanced blind-spot warning system with cameras that send images from each side of the car into the digital instrument cluster. The latter is an enhanced version of Autoblog's 2020 Tech of the Year.
The G80 has not been crash tested by a third party.