One glance at the Genesis GV80 and most won’t mistake it for a German, Swedish or Japanese premium large SUV.
Some have thought it looked a little like a Bentley. Regardless, it’s bold, distinctive and attention-grabbing, and quick poll of a good number of onlookers reveals most like the Korean family hauler’s styling. Few, however, have seen these on Aussie roads as its still something of a rare bird.
Yours truly lucked into the international launch of the GV80 in its native South Korea a few years back. Over there it’s an absolute rock star.
The paparazzi fervour of bystanders with phone cameras rolling, especially in the big wagon’s blind spots along Seoul’s motorways, was a bit over the top – but letting foreign journos loose on road literally hours after its global unveiling certainly ignited the local lollygagging.
These days the angular behemoth is being spotted a little more frequently and has been updated for 2022.
The changes aren’t big, more like spec fiddling; for example there’s little change in the high-spec 3.5T Luxury model tested here other than a new 6-Seat Luxury configuration option with a $13,500 upcharge. This is $3500 more than the regular Luxury expansion bundle offered in the ‘off-the-rack’ seven-seat version.
Disclosure: this review was supposed to be that six-pew example, but some technical difficulties – a broken windshield – landed the seven-seat 3.5T AWD Luxury substitute in the CarExpert garage instead. A review of the six-seater, with its lavish first-class second-row accommodation is coming soon.
Not that our test subject is a downgrade. Indeed, it’s our first steer of the big 3.5T AWD petrol configuration since its late-2020 Aussie launch, and in full-fruit Luxo guise at that.
At $109,500 plus on-road costs, the 3.5T AWD is the tree-topper of the four-core-variant GV80 range. It’s up $1024 on 2021 pricing.
The range enters with a five-seat 2.5T RWD at $92k, with seven-seats and AWD ($97k) adding five grand. From there, it’s a step up to the 3.0D AWD diesel ($105k) which mirrors the features of the 3.5T AWD if at a bit of a discount for the oiler format.
From here, you can add the Luxury Package, at $10,500, and matte paint work, at $2000, to any variant you like. Meanwhile, the new-for-2022 6-Seat Luxury Package, mostly comprised of the regular Luxury pack’s goodies, is only available for the AWD variants for an extra $13,500 over base pricing.
Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a bit to the Luxury Package experience – more details below – which in essence, could be considered a standalone high-spec trim level for each engine variant. Sans fancy matte paint, our Adriatic Blue Luxo-packaged tester lists at a neat $120k before on-roads.
On finishes, Genesis offers some of the tastiest hues and combinations on the premium map. There are seven regular paint colours and three matte hues.
These can be mixed and matched to four different interior themes, three of which are two-tone and all of which offer a choice of two different wood highlight trims. Stumping for the Luxury Package ‘unlocks’ a particular Smoky Green look with black ash or olive ash wood detailing.
Rivals for the GV80 3.5T AWD Luxury as high-spec, petrol-six-powered contenders include Audi Q7 55 TFSI quattro S line ($128,300), BMW X5 xDrive40i ($127,900), Jaguar F-Pace P400 HSE, Maserati Levante Modena ($149,990), Mercedes-Benz GLE450 ($128,372), Range Rover Velar P400 R-Dynamic HSE ($133,404) and Porsche Cayenne ($128,100).
Opting out of the Luxury Package brings the GV80 3.5T AWD closer to the likes of petrol-electric hybrids such as the (V6) Lexus RX450h Sports Luxury ($110,460) and the (four-pot) Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid ($121.990). There’s also Volkswagen’s quite upmarket Touareg 210TDI Elegance ($106,990), though that’s diesel only.
The upper-large, V8-powered Bentley Bentayga – if one is merely curious – starts from $378,600 in base guise…
If the flagship GV80’s exterior is making high-class promises, its interior (particularly in Luxury trim) delivers in grandiose style.
From design to material usage to the more adventurous available cabin colours and trim combinations, Genesis did not hold back on their interiors.
The richness in appointments is palpable. This unique-for-segment design is also shared with the G80 sedan, but for both cars it’s a clever and fetching blend of clean minimalism and fancy excess. All of it pretty much in the right areas.
For such a distinctive look and vibe, it offers quite a natural and intuitive layout, right down to stacked dual-dial configuration for the centre console transmission selector and multimedia controls, the latter countersunk so as to not to confuse one for the other whilst on the move.
From the climate control array, with its touch-capacitive glass effect, to the fancy digital instrumentation, with its subtle 3D visual effect, the GV80 is both slickly modern and still downright conventional, logical and legible.
It’s really only the two-spoke wheel design that gets a bit adventurous, but it’s more natural in the hands than you might expect and, as a key focal point of difference, makes a helluva neat statement.
The sense of craft is fantastic. In execution, from the switchgear to the stitching, the GV80 genuinely feels five-star and wonderfully made and executed. The dash, console and door trims are finished in leather (or synthetic stuff that feels very much like it) and there’s virtually no ‘workmanlike’ plastics to be seen.
There’s not a whiff of Hyundai about it and that’s no offence intended. There is a clean airy ambience and sense of front row roominess to the GV80 and the tactility of the soft Nappa seat trim a real highlight that further enhances this appeal.
Unsurprisingly, the seats very comfy. If there’s a slight grumble, it’s that it’s easy to inadvertently activate the seat massaging with the seat adjustment controls and knock the user preset buttons (just below the door latches) when you climb out. In reviews past I grumbled about the lack of front passenger seat massage function – for 2022, it’s now fitted.
The broad 14.5-inch multimedia screen is sharp, its functionality is quick and there’s ample distinction in its look and the choice of skin design to separate it from a Hyundai system.
The home screen is fetchingly subtle, the navigation display is crisp and the 360-degree camera display work is fantastic.
There are some screen annoyances though. It’s located too far from the driver for natural touchscreen control and after restarting the system won’t continue streaming your phone apps without physical prompting.
General storage is decent, bolstered by the neat second-tier tray under the centre console, and the usual oddment stowage cubbies are useful enough.
The inductive phone charging pad is huge, though the available USB ports are the older A type rather than the C type which is increasingly commonplace in premium motoring.
Row two brings full-monty electric outboard seat adjustment with ventilation and heating in Luxury spec, and the dedicated third zone climate controls in the rear of the centre console is fitting for an SUV this ambitiously upmarket.
Some of my taller colleagues have noted in GV80 reviews past that the long-legged get a bit of ‘knees up’ effect, though for an average five-ten bloke such as I the accommodation seems tailor-fit.
Head and knee room in the second row is good and the glass roof contributes to the airy ambience. The roof shade also seems thick enough to suppress the summer heat from penetrating into the cabin excessively.
Outboard ISOFIX anchor points and top-tether mounts make for plenty of family friendliness and there’s certainly enough comfort facility to make for pleasant long hauling for kids of all ages.
Row three really is a kid zone only, or emergency short-haul seating for adults.
Climbing in and out is tricky even though the row two seatbacks stow quite flat and both legroom and headroom is more restrictive than the row ahead of it, particularly with how close the rear seat headrests are positioned in relation to the rearmost ceiling and tailgate glass area.
As we’ve remarked in reviews past, it’s realistically a 5+2 layout for most practical purposes. Ignore row three, especially if you rarely need it, and the seven-pew GV80 makes for a commodious and compromise free five-seater. The rear seating is power-folding, too, which is befitting for the extra coin the Luxury Pack commands.
The AWD versions offer 727 litres of boot space with row three stowed, which is marginally smaller (by just eight litres) than the five-seater RWD version. This expands to 2144L as a two-seater.
The 3.5T, as the name suggests, brings 3.5 litres of twin-turbocharged V6 power to the tune of 279kW (5800rpm). The torque peak is 530Nm (1300-4500rpm).
Opting for the 3.0D instead fits a 3.0-litre inline-six turbo-diesel outputting a lower 204kW but with a superior 588Nm. Meanwhile, the entry turbo 2.5L four-cylinder petrol produces 224kW and 422Nm.
All are offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission and on-demand all-wheel drive, though the four-pot GV80 in its most basic guise is rear-driven.
At 11.7L/100km, the 3.5T is unsurprisingly the thirstiest. Though at a swift 5.5 seconds from 0-100km/h, it’s the quickest by a fair measure.
The petrol fours return 9.8L/100km (RWD) to 10.4L/100km (AWD) claimed, while the 3.0D AWD is a thriftier 8.8L/100km. Expectedly, performance is quite up there with the 3.5T, the 2.5Ts with a claim of 6.9s to 100km/h and the 3.0D at 6.8s.
The 3.5T runs on a 95 RON minimum, though it’s also E10 compatible. Its fuel tank measures 80 litres.
Towing capacity is 2722kg braked and 750kg unbraked.
The trio of engines for the GV80 fit the bill well. From experience, the 2.5T is surprisingly willing and far from under-baked, while the personal pick of the litter is the silky smooth straight-six diesel, with its polite nature and the torque that fills the large luxury SUV bill impressively well.
It’s reasonable to expect great things from the big petrol six that promises significantly superior performance, and on balance, it delivers a commanding performance.
The one thing the 3.5T has over the other engines in its range is character. There’s real aural gusto when you dig in and solid, if not necessarily heady, thrust once you do. That said, the breadth of flexibility is such that in most driving situations it instead defaults to a quiet operator of refined dignity.
On the whole, it feels quite effortless and under-stressed. Genesis is doing an impressive job of reducing noise, vibration and anything like harshness to the holistic driving experience – and it extends through to the powertrain. Well, to a point.
The home-spun eight-speed automatic is wholly silken for 98 per cent of the driving experience. But point it uphill at low speed, particularly just after a cold start, and it’s little notchy in upshifting. It’s a minor quibble and one perhaps exacerbated by the auto’s utterly smooth operation anytime anywhere else.
Sport mode ups the powertrain responses and enthusiasm of course, though it does start unravelling some of the nicely rounded polish of the general on-road experience. But it’s good to have the option, right?
The underpinnings have much going for them, with a fit, so-called ‘rear drive’ platform shared with the G80 and the marque’s tricky, camera-based Road Preview ride control that adapts damping to proactively respond to road imperfections on the fly. It also benefits from localised tuning.
In its default Comfort setting, the suspension is cushy and pliant to the point of being wallowy at low speed across rough road acne, though much of that is a necessary by-product of tuning compliance into a heavy SUV sat on huge 22-inch wheels.
At higher velocities, the chassis settles nicely, with solid body control and the right amount of compliance, though the large wheels can slap a little across road joints and the like. Those broad Michelins, at 265mm wide apiece, do drum up some noise at pace, though the trade-off is that they also have a huge amount of grip as a measure of safety.
That said, the active noise cancellation that comes with the Luxury Package seems to do it job very well. The GV80 is, on balance, a downright soothing place to spend clocking up long seat time, be it in peak-hour traffic or out on the open road.
Sport brings a firmer character that’s perhaps only really best served on smooth backroads and when the inertia of the SUV is challenged by carving through corners, but only because Comfort really does fit as a do-most-anything mode.
A real highlight to the GV80 driving experience is the 360-degree camera system; its huge crisp display leaving nothing to the imagination in any direction and making parking such a large unit a doddle.
A proper lowlight, though, is the attention warning system intent on coercing the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road ahead – it triggers excessively when you’re cruising around a carpark trying to look for empty car spaces.
- 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (AI)
- Satellite navigation with augmented reality (AR)
- DAB+ digital radio
- 12.0-inch head-up display
- 12-way power front seats with four-way adjustable lumbar
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- 21-speaker 1050W Lexicon premium sound system
- Adjustable ambient lighting
- Qi wireless phone charging
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Power tailgate
- Adaptive high beam
- 360-degree cameras with 3D surround view
- Adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go
- Panoramic sunroof
- Leather upholstery
- Leather dash, console and door trim
- Open-pore real wood trim
- Dual-zone climate control
- LED headlights
- Keyless entry and start
- 40:20:40 split-fold sliding and reclining rear seat
- Power tilt and telescoping steering wheel
GV80 3.0D and 3.5T AWD add:
- 22-inch alloy wheels
- Adaptive suspension
The Luxury Package ($10,500, all models) adds:
- Reverse parking collision avoidance
- Remote Smart Parking Assist
- Quilted Nappa leather upholstery
- Suede headliner
- Matrix LED headlights
- 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument cluster
- Active noise control
- Remote parking assist
- Tri-zone climate control
- Soft-close doors
- 18-way power front seats with massaging
- Heated steering wheel
- Heated and ventilated second-row seats
- Power-adjustable second-row seats
- Power-adjustable third-row seats (AWD models only)
The 6-seat Luxury Package ($13,500, AWD models) adds:
- Luxury Package
- Second-row bucket seats
- Dual 9.2-inch second-row touchscreens
- Dual 3.5mm headphone jacks and USB video/audio input
- Rear wireless phone charger
- Fixed second-row console with controls and storage
The Genesis GV80 has a five-star ANCAP safety based on testing conducted by Euro NCAP in 2021.
However, the rating only applies to two of the four available variants: the 2.5T AWD and the 3.0D AWD. Thus, our flagship 3.5T AWD review version remains unrated. Ditto the 2.5T rear-driver. Part of this is because the 3.5T AWD and 2.5T RWD weren’t offered in the European market at the time of testing.
The GV80 scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 66 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and 79 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- incl. Pedestrian and Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Forward collision warning
- Evasive steering assist
- Blind-spot assist
- Blind Spot View Monitor
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Driver attention warning
- Lane Following Assist
- Lane-keep assist
- Safe Exit Assist
- 10 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
A premium ownership experience is high on the Genesis agenda, and it starts with a decent five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assistance. So far so good.
The real sweetener; though, is five years of complimentary servicing with an annual/10,000km schedule for 2.5T and 3.5T models, saving thousands against some European rivals. Diesels have longer 15,000km intervals.
Further, the marque’s valet service can collect and return your GV80 when it’s being serviced provided you live within 70 kilometres of a Genesis Studio.
First owners also get access to a courtesy vehicle while their own Genesis is being serviced.
While some may be unsure of the styling, it’s hard not to be smitten by the execution of the thing, particularly in full-fat Luxury form.
And, while the oiler version would be your author’s ideal pick, the twin-turbo petrol six should more than satisfy expectations of that particular powertrain format.
The machine itself stacks up impressively well on singular merit, particularly the lap of luxury vibe the cabin brings to the experience. The sheer opulence minted in its distinctive Genesis guise is a big drawcard.
Pricing, and fixed pricing at that, is bullish, though perhaps it has to be in order to be considered as a bona-fide rival to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Is the five-figure Luxury Package warranted? As fitted, the GV80 does ply a level of goodness and excess higher than its Euro competition can offer for roughly similar money.
Omitted from the formula, and the GV80 does undercut key segment movers and shakers by enough to feel value-laden without robbing too much from the upmarket cachet Genesis is fighting hard to build.
It’s easy to dismiss the Genesis proposition. Its unconventional methods around its buying and ownership experience, and all of the usual questions that naturally come with engaging with a fledgling challenger brand, such as resale and dealer network support, will be enough to turn some away.
But there’s really nothing unpalatable about the broader Genesis pitch and there’s plenty in wider Genesis experience that will appeal to those who become early adopters.
In some ways, being different is a Genesis strength rather than a weakness, and is central to all things likeable about the GV80. The logical alternative – to largely ape a German premium experience – was never going to cut it with where the Korean luxury upstart wants and needs to be.
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