Is the new Genesis G80 a worthy competitor in the executive saloon segment?
4.0 out of 5
We’re surprised how close to the class-leading BMW 5 Series Genesis has got first time out. The G80 matches its German rival on quality and class, and offers a unique buying and owning experience and some tech that’s yet to filter through to BMW. Ultimately, the BMW is better to drive, not that the G80 is bad. We’d like a slightly more forgiving ride and a slightly bigger boot, but the G80 is already the best non-German model in the executive saloon sector.
Although SUVs are all the rage, if you really want to compete in the premium car market, you’ve still got to have an executive saloon in your line-up. BMW’s 5 Series has long been the standard others are measured by, so how close can newcomer Genesis get with its new G80?
To start with, the G80 looks premium – probably more so than another recent arrival in this class, the DS 9. A striking combination of the over-sized G-Matrix grille flanked by slim quad headlamps marks out the front, while in profile and at the back there are hints of Aston Martin Rapide. There’s just the right amount of chrome and a high-quality paint finish that make it look as posh as any rival.
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In spite of the coupé look, it’s a saloon with a 424-litre boot – quite a bit smaller than a 5 Series, A6 or E-Class. Space inside is okay, though, although the £640 sunroof option left the header rail a bit too close to our six-foot tall driver’s head, and robbed a bit of headroom in the back, too.
As with the GV80 SUV, the G80’s cabin is a classy affair with a big 14.5-inch screen with excellent connectivity plus easy-to-find and nice-to-touch controls. Build quality is spot-on – in fact the best compliment we can pay the car is that it feels very Germanic.
That applies to the way it drives, too. Our car came with the 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, although there’s also a 2.2-litre diesel available now and an all-electric version good for over 310 miles coming later this year.
Performance is good and you can choose to dial up or down the engine noise – we’d suggest the latter with noise cancelling and double glazing making the G80 a hushed cruiser. The eight-speed auto is quick to respond, while handling is best described as tidy rather than spirited – the car feels quite big and heavy, which actually adds to the quality feel.
The G80 has been developed at the Nürburgring in Germany, but not with lap times in mind – this is a more comfort-orientated model than the 5 Series. However, in spite of Ride Preview tech – a camera that reads the road and adjusts the dampers – the ride was a little firm around town at lower speeds. The 19-inch wheels of the Premium Line models might make that a bit better rather than the 20s fitted to our Luxury Line car. However, the lesser car does without leather seats, instead offering a leather alternative Genesis bravely calls Leatherette – a nod to the 1970s, perhaps.
You can get into a G80 diesel from £36,100, which sounds very appealing. Our car costs either £41,000 or £45,800 depending on the trim level you opt for, which makes the car look like decent value, especially when the impressive tech spec is taken into account.
We’ll have to wait to see how the market sees resale values – we’d say they could be stronger than some rivals to the big three German saloons, but not yet up there with the likes of the 5 Series. However, we do like the sound of Genesis’ five-year care plan with warranty, servicing, roadside assistance and more to look after you for the full term. We also like the fact that you don’t have to visit a dealer to buy or for servicing – you can visit a Genesis Studio in a posh shopping mall, do it all online, or leave it all to your Genesis Personal Assistant.
Genesis G80 2.5T Luxury Line
|Engine:||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
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