- Photos: Kurt Bradley

The Genesis G80 Puts German Luxury Sedans On Notice

This Korean luxury car is going toe-to-toe with the best from Germany.

5w ago

Genesis has been rebuilding its entire brand over the past year, not so quietly stepping up its game to compete with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Up until this new effort was made, Genesis was barely more than a nicer model of Hyundai to most people, sold alongside its more basic affordable cars. The Korean marque is on another level now, selling some seriously good cars.

In the past year, I have had the chance to check out the new SUV and crossover entries from Genesis, with the three-row GV80 and smart-sized GV70. Both of those models performed brilliantly, while offering a ton of value against their rivals. I wanted to get a taste of Genesis' new sedan contenders, and recently had a chance to take the new G80 for a spin over a week in Los Angeles. Would it measure up against the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series, and Audi A6?

The Key Figures

For 2022, the Genesis G80 gets a completely new look inside and out to employ the brand's new design language, and to make it more attractive and better-equipped to compete with the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Audi A6. As a midsized luxury sedan, the Genesis G80 has two engine options. The standard 2.5-liter turbocharged four produces 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Genesis also offers a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that cranks out 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. All Genesis G80 models are equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and have rear-wheel-drive standard, with all-wheel-drive available.

To attract buyers away from its German foes, Genesis is still making a solid value play. Base price for the Genesis G80 starts at $48,000 for the four-cylinder with rear-wheel-drive, which is a lot less than the comparable Mercedes-Benz E350 I reviewed this summer. V6 G80s start at a tick under $60,000. Genesis is also smart to make options simple with the G80, with a few loaded packages that increase equipment and luxury or sportiness at modest price bumps with each upgrade.

The Black Forest painted G80 I tested was equipped with the V6 and rear-wheel-drive, and added the Prestige Package which includes 20-inch wheels and all-season tires, Nappa leather seats, heated steering wheel and rear seats, a bigger 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster with a heads-up display, microfiber suede headliner, a massaging driver seat, surround view monitor, and a few extra safety features. In this configuration, the Genesis G80 hit a total MSRP of $66,645 after destination, which is several thousand less than its German competitors.

Nicely Refined Yet Great To Drive

My test in Los Angeles involved a lot of freeway miles being covered, and I loved how well the Genesis G80 kept me cruising along in absolute comfort. Without being disconnected from the pavement, the G80 glides along as you'd expect from a flagship sedan, but still providing just the right amount of suspension and steering feedback. The Genesis' comfort drive mode makes cracks in concrete pavement much more subtle, but I set up the custom drive mode to give the dampers and steering a bit more weight. Even with this combination, the G80 was a joy on LA's horrendous streets.

Having reviewed a Mercedes E350 this summer, the Genesis G80 provides a very similar overall driving experience with much more power on-tap. Don't doubt the V6 stuffed under the hood of the G80, as this Genesis has no trouble accelerating smoothly, with a smooth grumble from the exhaust. Mid-range torque is plentiful from the 3.5-liter turbocharged powerplant, making for a more fun driving experience when escaping the city.

I took the Genesis G80 for a spin in the Angeles National Forest while I was out on another fun assignment, and was blown away with how well this luxury-focused trim level and spec handled on the most demanding test route I frequent. It's not a performance sedan, and the softer suspension paired with all-season Pirelli P Zero tires allow for a hint of body roll and understeer, but I'll find out how the sportier trim level of the G80 that's equipped with the all-wheel-drive option plays very soon.

The front seats have the usual heated and ventilated features you expect from a luxury sedan, in addition to massaging modes. I wish the front passenger also got to have a massage as they rode along, but at this price point, Genesis gives the G80 a great stack of features. Rear occupants get seat heating controls in the center armrest, while enjoying a massive amount of legroom, and can adjust the front passenger seat from its side panel to allow for even more space. Trunk space is huge, easily swallowing four roller bags and two backpacks, with a passthrough in between the rear seats.

I appreciate the revised steering wheel design that looks much better than the pill-shaped one found inside the Genesis' G80's GV80 SUV sibling. Where the Mercedes E-Class cockpit I liked is a cool blend of stylish and luxurious, and the BMW 5 Series setup I reviewed (in the form of the M5 Competition) is a bit more tame, the Genesis goes fully after the sort of appointments and fitment you'd expect in an upper Lexus model.

Exceptionally Styled Body And Cabin

Genesis' new design language is fantastic, now boasting a more luxurious appearance throughout its lineup, and the G80 looks great. The overall profile is long and demonstrates a smoothly swept roofline, with clean lines from nose to tail. The front grille and Genesis badge might be a bit too much of a Bentley knock-off, but the G80 is still one massively attractive car you'd think costs significantly more if you didn't recognize the badge and nameplate.

The split headlights and taillights are met with a similar design for the turn markers in the front fenders, and I think they look great. 20-inch five-spoke wheels look just cool enough, while maintaining the appearance of a nicer luxury sedan. Plenty of second looks were earned as I drove the Genesis G80 around LA during my week of testing.

I praised the Genesis GV80 SUV for its interior treatments, and the G80 sedan is nearly identical inside. Seats are cushy and wrapped with soft perforated leather, and give the right balance of bolstering and long drive comfort. One hidden seat function in the G80 is a posture and comfort setting that helps you keep from stiffening up as you drive, which also lets you know how bad of form you typically employ when configuring your seat.

Genesis has a big digital instrument cluster, which has a 3D view option, but I couldn't deal with that through my polarized sunglasses. The simpler gauges are much more classy and functional, and I like how the G80's cluster turns either the speedometer or tachometer into a side view display when you indicate to change lanes on either side. Touch points in the G80 are exceptional, with nicely grooved metal controls that have the perfect detent. Open pore wood is another nice touch inside the G80's cabin.

The Value Luxury Sedan Happens To Be A Fantastic One

Genesis has declared that it is picking a fight with its more-established German foes. When I tested the GV80 earlier this year, I thought Genesis produced the best luxury SUV for under $100,000, and after I drove the GV70 this summer, I considered it better at being a performance luxury crossover than the Audi SQ5 I reviewed just before it. I'll have a go in the smaller G70 sedan and the flagship G90 in the coming months, to see how they stack up versus their rivals, but have no doubt they'll be exceptional. Having driven a few Genesis models, I'm convinced that the rebuilt Korean lineup is a force to be reckoned with.

The Genesis G80 steps up against the more popular E-Class and 5 Series, and is remarkable on your commute or along a fun road while encompassing you in a cabin that's as appointed and polished as the Germans at a far better price. Yes, the performance sedans from Munich, Ingolstadt, and Stuttgart are damn good, but Genesis has a modestly fun option (which I'll be testing soon) to satisfy that urge too. If you're looking at an E-Class, 5 Series, or A6, swing by the Genesis dealer to examine the G80.

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Comments (13)

  • Is Genesis finally a proper contender to the Germans? @tribe

      1 month ago
  • Honestly I'd buy this over an s class 100%

      1 month ago
    • The Genesis G90 would be a more direct comparison to the S-Class. This car, the G80, competes with the E-Class.

        1 month ago
    • Ohh yes thaat,

        1 month ago
  • Genesis as I see it has taken a page out of China's book on car manufacturing and gave it its own twist. They've taken elements of well-established German brands and refined them to match their own standards of quality. What they have created is truly spectacular. I believe the brand reputation Mercedes, Audi and BMW have will protect them from a majority of their customers switching to Genesis but Genesis is surely becoming the proper contender of competition.

      1 month ago
  • No one is going to buy it in Europe,

      29 days ago
  • Lets see in three or four years if the car is still running or if the tranny and other mechanical bits are still in one piece.

    Same with the electrics/electronics.

    Right now and for the last few years, German cars have huge reliability issues.

    Not to even speak of keeping their value on the used vehicle market. They are just bloody awful!

      1 month ago