Genesis is killing it. I know a lot of people can't see beyond the fact this new brand is the luxury arm of Hyundai. But those people are missing out because Genesis vehicles have a high level of attention to detail, incredible driving dynamics and a lot of standard technology - for a fraction of the German luxury cost.
All you have to do is take a closer look at the 2022 Genesis G80
to see what I'm talking about.
If you're looking at a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, I'd challenge you to take this midsize sedan for a spin. While brand purists won't be swayed, those who have more flexible loyalties might make the switch.
Let's start with the biggest barrier to entry. German car owners tend to be snobby when it comes to driving dynamics (myself included). There's a certain tightness to the suspension and steering that is hard to duplicate - but Genesis has started doing a darn good job.
I'll admit the first vehicles out of the Genesis stable were decent but a little sloppy in the driving dynamics arena. But that started to change with the first iteration of the Genesis G70, the brand's compact sedan. With lessons learned from that sporty model, the G80 benefitted.
The up-level 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine is both refined and a little bit dirty - especially when you flip the vehicle over into sport mode. With 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque, the G80 is well-powered for highway merges and has just the right amount of fun for some of the more aggressive passing maneuvers. It has smooth and seamless acceleration without creating a disconnect with the driving experience.
Attention to detail
I challenge you to find any ulta-luxury vehicle - from Maybach to Maserati - that has a better attention to tiny details. Everywhere you look on the Genesis G80 is a visual delight. Simple details like reverse stitching and quilted patterning on the seats is expected. But it's things like the plaid-patterned carbon fiber inserts and metal accents on the cup holder prongs that are extra. Every detail is well thought out, and surfaces and touchpoints most automakers scrimp on receive specific and special attention.
Don't believe me? Go look at the enclosure for the rear-seat LED reading light. Yep, it has a textured pattern that adds depth and visual interest.
Silly cool tech
These days things like Apple CarPlay, blind-spot monitoring and lane keep assist are de riguer. It's rare if a vehicle doesn't have these things. So, sticking with the theme of "extra," the Genesis G80 is next level. Yes, you have the Hyundai-exclusive blind-view monitoring on the digital cluster as well as the smart park functionality.
But the G80 adds a little panache with an adjustable 3D digital cluster and an infotainment home screen that reflects the weather. If it's snowing, little snowflakes fall on display. Cloudy day? The screen fills with gray clouds. Got a little rain? Water drops drip realistically on the other "side" of the screen like they would down a windshield. These two features serve no purpose other than being stupid cool.
All the standard safety
One thing that irks me about most luxury brands is they consider safety to be an option. So, thinks like lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking are pricey options.
Genesis doesn't play that game.
Standard safety features across the G80 lineup include adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, forward collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, blind spot avoidance and 10 airbags - including one between the front passengers to avoid occupant contact in the event of a side crash.
Oh, and the Genesis G80 wins the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick + award with "Good" ratings in all crash tests and "Superior" ratings for crash prevention systems.
The bottom line
The Genesis G80 has a base price of $49,345 and includes a lot of up-level amenities and standard safety. The test vehicle had the top-tier 375-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine and tops out at $64,795 - with all the luxury amenities you could possibly want. That. Is. A. Steal.
You won't get a comparably equipped German luxury vehicle for a fraction of that price. And the 2022 G80 has power and driving dynamics that can battle with the best of the BMWs, Mercedes and Audis.
I've talked more than one person out of their BMW and into a Genesis, and all it took was a test drive. So, if you can get over the brand name, try it, you'll like it.