With the spring auto show season scrubbed due to the coronavirus pandemic, automakers are looking for creative ways to introduce their latest products, and for Genesis, the solution was a global webcast to pull the wraps of the next-generation G80.
To no surprise, the new sedan picks up on some of the key styling details that were first seen on the bigger G90 launched last year – as well as the GV80, the Korean carmaker’s first SUV. That starts with the distinctive split-quad headlamps that frame an enlarged version of the Genesis crest grille.
Under the long hood, however, is where some of the most significant updates can be found. Gone are the two V-6 powertrains offered on the prior-generation Genesis G80, the new sedan now offering a choice of a torquey turbo-four, a new V-6 or, for markets outside the U.S., a diesel.
Though the new GV80 is expected to become the volume seller for the Korean brand, the G80 is the marque’s foundation. It first appeared a dozen years ago as the Hyundai Genesis, challenging the traditional image of the automaker as a bargain-basement option, and winning kudos as the North American Car of the Year.
Eventually, when the Hyundai Motor Group decided it was time to launch a true luxury brand, the sedan was renamed the G80.
“The core of our brand lies within the G80,” said William Lee, Executive Vice President and Global Head of the Genesis Brand. “This segment represents where we started and we’re pleased that our newest offering achieves a perfect balance of discerning luxury and inspiring performance for our customers.”
The 2021 Genesis G80’s long hood flows into a sweeping, coupe-like roofline and fastback rear that brings to mind the latest Audi A7. The split/quad headlamps are echoed by market lights on the front quarter-panel and, again, in the taillights. A single “parabolic” accent line flows from nose to tail – a design cue also found on the GV80. Bulging arches frame the sedan’s 20-inch chromed wheels.
Inside, the 2021 sedan gets upgraded details that align it closer to the top-line G90 model. The instrument panel flows low and wide, with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.5-inchbroad infotainment screen atop the IP.
There’s plenty of technology onboard, including both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an optional head-up display. The plushly upholstered front “motion seats” feature seven air cells that subtly change shape while driving, Genesis says, to improve comfort and reduce fatigue on long trips.
A smartphone app allows a driver to monitor and control vehicle functions, such as locking and unlocking doors, remotely. The digital key, meanwhile, allows a driver to push a button and have the G80 remotely park itself.
Automatic emergency braking and blind-spot collision avoidance are among the many advanced driver assistance features. Genesis also notes a “Machine Learning” feature allows the sedan to learn and mimic a motorist’s driving style, while the “Highway Driving Assist II” feature automatically changes lanes with a tap of the turn signal.
The G80 also features a preemptive diagnostic system that monitors an array of vehicle functions and can warn of an impending problem.
With the departure of the old 3.3-liter V-6, the new “base” engine become a turbo-four displacing 2.5 liters and making 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade is a 3.5-liter turbo-V-6 punching that up to 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. There are no plans to bring the 2.2-liter diesel to the U.S.
With parent Hyundai also operating its own mills, prior Genesis products made extensive use of standard and high-strength steels. This time, however, there’s a significant amount of lightweight aluminum which Hyundai’s global product chief Albert Bierman says means a lower center of gravity and improved agility.
The new G80 is about 110 pounds lighter than the outgoing sedan, Genesis says, which should mean improved mileage. Precise EPA numbers haven’t been released yet, nor has pricing. And, oddly enough, Genesis didn’t reveal anything about the new sedan’s transmission, though it did note it will be available in either rear- or all-wheel-drive.
The 2021 Genesis G80 will go on sale in South Korea today, with other markets, starting with the U.S., getting the sedan during the second-half of 2020.