Trying to launch a new brand is never easy, especially if you’re doing so with a mix of three sedans in a market absolutely crazy over SUVs. So, you can imagine the relief the folks at Genesis feel now that they’re finally set to launch their first sport-utility vehicle, the 2021 GV80.
We got a first look at the ute during a Miami preview just before the coronavirus pandemic locked us down earlier this year, but the South Korean carmaker is filling in the remaining blanks as it gets ready to roll the GV80 into showrooms, notably including fuel economy numbers for each of the three distinct powertrain packages it will be offering.
As the name might hint, the Genesis GV80 will share the same, all-new platform as the 2021 remake of the marque’s mid-range luxury sedan, the G80. The new architecture is about 55 pounds lighter than the old sedan’s but offers higher torsional rigidity.
“When you’re given a big challenge, the best thing to do is to start from a clean sheet of paper,” said Albert Biermann, president, head of Research & Development Division at Hyundai Motor Group.
“The development of an all-new platform set us up for great success, influencing everything from the expansive space of the interior to the striking design proportions.”
And there is no question that the design of the new GV80 catches the eye. Like the G80 sedan, the SUV features a bold, shield-shaped grille framed by slit-like LED lighting, including twin horizontal running lamps.
The silhouette picks up on the G80’s coupe-like silhouette, as well as the distinctive kick to the chromed frame around the D-pillar window.
In a statement, Genesis notes that, along with the new M3 platform, it has taken numerous additional steps to bring down weight. Traditionally, parent Hyundai has put an emphasis on using steel to do so, utilizing the latest alloys from its own mills. With the GV80, however, it has swapped in aluminum for the doors, saving a collective 220 pounds, as well as the hood and tailgate, reducing mass by another 35 pounds.
Mass is, of course, the enemy of performance and fuel economy. Among the few things Genesis hasn’t revealed are the 0-60 times for the various powertrain configurations, but we can get a sense of how cutting weight has worked. The base, rear-wheel-drive version of the 2.5-liter turbo-four engine will deliver 21 mpg city, 25 highway and 23 combined. The all-wheel-drive package comes in with an almost identical number, the combined mileage down to 22. As for the 3.5-liter turbo six, that manages 18/23/20.
The reality is that those are good numbers but not benchmark by any means, pretty much in line with competitors like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Lexus RX, and a bit better than the similarly sized Audi Q7.
During our visit to Miami for the GV80 unveiling we noted that the new SUV can stand up to comparisons with the best European competitors, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE. There are quilted leather seats and plenty of subtle details like machine-knurled knobs.
As is requisite in a luxury SUV, the Genesis GV80 features plenty of advanced technology. That includes a new take on active noise control that here can cancel out road, as well as engine and road noise.
Those quilted seats can be ordered with what the Korean carmaker calls “active motion” technology. Each contains seven automatically adjusting air cells and, Genesis claims, can help reduce driving fatigue.
There are plenty of advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, such as smart cruise control, blind spot detection and semi-autonomous Highway Driving Assist II. There also are 10 airbags, including one in the center of the front row to reduce the chance passengers will slam into one another during a crash.
Look for the 2021 Genesis GV80 to reach U.S. showrooms this autumn.
It will become the first of several SUVs the Korean luxury brand is developing, incidentally. A smaller model, likely to be dubbed the GV70, will follow a year or so later. And the third is set to become the first all-electric Genesis model and odds suggest it will use a variation of the E-GMP skateboard-like platform that will underpin a new battery-powered Kia coming next year.