Let’s just get this out of the way first: I’m a bit of a Genesis fanboy. As someone who loves a good underdog story, seeing Hyundai launch a new luxury brand into one of today’s most competitive market segments is exciting. It’s great to see a fresh take on luxury, especially from a brand you might not expect. That being said, the team behind Genesis is committed to seeing the brand succeed and their hard work seems to be paying off already.
Now, you might not think the word “Sport” pairs well with Genesis – it certainly wasn’t the first word that came to mind when I drove the regular G80 sedan a few years ago – but with a pair of turbos strapped to the new 3.3-liter GDi V6 producing 365-hp, the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport certainly has some spring in its step. In addition to injecting some well-deserved “oomph” into the G80 Sport, Genesis wanted the car to look the part and to do so, they added more aggressive bumpers front and rear, sporty and beautifully detailed 19-inch wheels. One of its more polarizing featured – the copper accents throughout – gives a touch of flash without appearing garish or overstated.
But there’s much more to the Genesis G80 Sport than just a bit more power and subtle nip-tuck. Inside, the seats are trimmed in buttery soft black leather with perforated centers that let a dash of copper come through while contrasting copper stitching adds a touch of class as well. Real carbon fiber accents throughout the dash and door panels further play into the sporting vibe of the car. To be expected, all of the usual elegance and refinement we’ve come to expect in the Genesis lineup is here in the G80 Sport as well. The G80 Sport has a truly world-class cabin.
From behind the wheel, the Genesis G80 Sport is well-planted and solid. The heavily contoured, leather-wrapped steering wheel doesn’t provide as much feedback from the road as I’d like, but with all of the driver aids such as lane keep assist, it’s no surprise. What is a surprise though, is how accurate the steering is. It makes the G80 very easy to place on narrow streets and easy to maneuver in tight parking lots. Perhaps the shining star of the G80 Sport however, is its suspension. The drive selector switch does a remarkable job of changing the character of the car between Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. While the ride is slightly firmer in Normal mode on this Sport model when compared to the regular G80, the Sport feels less floaty and more composed on bumpy roads, while still remaining comfortable and easy to drive on the highway. Unlike most cars in this class, the Sport mode legitimately changes the character of the car, tightening the suspension, speeding up shifts, and allowing a bit more engine noise into the cabin.
With 365 horsepower on tap from the 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6, the G80 Sport is no slouch. Genesis claims the new turbo GDi engine makes its peak torque from 1,300 RPM, which means that the G80 Sport should always be ready to go whenever you put your foot in it. Perhaps the 8-speed transmission has something to do with it, but I found the 8-speed automatic to be a bit clumsy in Normal or Eco modes when I wanted to accelerate briskly. In Sport mode, however, the transmission does a much better job of sending the power where it’s supposed to go, whether that means the rear wheels or in this case, all four wheels. When you need to get somewhere in a hurry, the G80 Sport is happy to oblige, gently pushing you back in your seat with a surge of torque that never seems to end. The engine feels even stronger than its claimed 365 horsepower, likely because of the 376 lb-ft of torque that trumps even the V8 model in the lineup.
As with most luxury sedans today, the performance isn’t the real headline because it’s almost always overshadowed by the amount of technology on board, and with the Genesis G80 Sport, the same holds true. Not only does the G80 Sport succeed in this area by offering a wide array of radar- and camera-based safety features including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The 9.2-inch infotainment system comes standard with navigation and the four cameras around the car also show a nice bird’s eye view of the car on the high definition screen. The color head-up display also shows plenty of pertinent driving information like speed, blind spot information, turn-by-turn directions and cruise control information. There’s even a wireless charging pad for your phone. Perhaps most impressive from inside the car was the 17-speaker, 7.1-channel surround sound Lexicon audio system which sounds incredible inside the otherwise whisper-quiet cabin.
Of course, all of this technology, power, and poise comes at a price, but unlike many of its competitors, you aren’t paying for options on an a la carte basis. Instead, Genesis includes everything in the $55,250 MSRP. The only big ticket item to choose is between rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, a $2,500 option. Beyond that, all there is to decide is which of the five exterior colors and two interior colors suit your fancy, and you’re good to go. Regardless of your personal preference in color, you really can’t go wrong with the Genesis G80 Sport. It’s an incredibly competent, well-rounded, sporty sedan. For under $60,000, you’d be hard-pressed to find another sedan in this class that can do everything the G80 Sport does this well.