2022 Genesis G80 Sport review by The Road Beat.
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman
What is it?
The mid-size (though it's quite big) sedan from South Korean brand Genesis, the luxury arm of Hyundai. This G80 Sport now has the potent 3.5L twin-turbo V6 under the hood with all-wheel drive. Should be pretty capable, no? Not to mention quite good considering how fond I was of the entry four-cylinder model a year prior.
The G80 is a tremendous car in general. Built to compete against the Germans, it compromises next to nothing while undercutting them in price. This example will run you a remorseful $72,170 with every option box ticked to your indulgent desire, but that still is less than a comparably equipped Mercedes or BMW. And yes, as you can surely see for yourself, this is a beautiful car inside and out and also intricately well-made, with all-star luxury quality oozing out of every corner and crevice. Artful and soulful, I'd call it. This certainly meets and exceeds any requirements to be considered a luxury car.
Like the cheaper model before it, the G80 Sport is mightily fine on the road. On highways, the cabin is hushed to keep you and any occupants relaxed; The plush ride quality and comfortable seats help there, too. Yet, the steering has actual weight to it, and when you dig deep into the throttle and approach corners at very non-luxurious speeds, the G80 doesn't as much submit as it charges on with enthusiasm. Despite the soft suspension, the G80 is a car that likes being driven hard, showcasing a deft balance that is reminiscent of old BMWs, and that's about the highest possible compliment you can give to a saloon car. The luxury softness at each corner allows you to really lean on each spring and tire, instilling confidence in you behind the wheel. Outright lateral grip is really only average, but it's the way it goes about its business, being more charismatic and personal than what a BMW 540i gives you, which is a robotic experience to say the least.
Performance has been raised to respectable heights, as this is a naughtily quick car with 375 horsepower. 0-60 MPH needs 4.8 seconds, just about matching that same offering from Bavaria. Of course, your neighbor with their Model S Tesla will obliterate it, but let's not get dragged down in numbers; there's more to a car than just numbers.
What's isn't good...
Unfortunately, despite the praise I just gave, I didn't warm up to this G80 nearly as much as I expected. And really, there's only one explanation for that: the G80. Confused? Let me put it this way: this G80 costs significantly more ($20,000!) than the complete strippy base model of a G80 I tested a year ago, and the truth is that it just isn't worth the upgrades. That car had zero options, with a fake leather interior, but all the essentials I would want were present. The fake leather was even fantastic, besting real leather from many other cars. A four-cylinder it may have had with only 300 horsepower, but it was still plenty quick. Honestly, the numbers say this is a speedy machine, but it never really felt that fast to me. When driving around and trying to exploit the midrange punch of the twin-turbo engine, I never got the wallop I was wishing for. So, faster it may be, but it didn't ever feel that impressive to me behind the wheel.
The fuel economy is also appalling. With gas becoming over $6.00 a gallon here in California, averaging only 20 MPG hurts, and that's because that's all I could muster from this in several days of pretty sedate driving. On the highway, that number will stretch to 28, but the 2.5L four-banger model averaged an impressive 28 MPG in my hands and did 39 MPG on the highway.
While this is an issue for all Genesis models and not just this particular G80, the rotating wheel for the entertainment inside the cabin is still awkward to use. Reason for this is the user has to grip it from the inside rather than from the outside like a traditional knob. It's shaped like a plate, and while low-profile and unobtrusive to make it pretty, usability is lacking. A few other ergonomics are questionable such as the placement of the volume knob for example. Once you recall where things are it's better, but there is a learning curve for sure. It's not hard to use, just different.
Skip it for the cheaper model
Genesis' G80 Sport is mighty, but it just doesn't impress the way the affordable base model does. Once you add this engine and options, it's still good value against rivals, but that price does creep up fast and is not worth the upgrade over the standard four-cylinder. Combine that with dreadful fuel mileage, and then it seems like bad value even. Make no mistake, the interior is basically a luxury art installation; sumptuous, adventurous, and original. However, it remains that the cheaper car is also the better package and value in this case. For this much money, you might as well even step up to the ultra-luxurious G90.
2022 Genesis G80 AWD 3.5T Sport Prestige
As-tested price: $72,170
Pros: Beautiful inside and out, well-made, driving dynamics
Cons: Expensive, poor economy, the four-cylinder is already so good
Verdict: A great vehicle that is undermined by its price and cheaper sibling