In recent years, the Genesis brand has become synonymous with luxury and high-performance motoring in the United States. Finely tuned vehicles and industry-leading after purchase support have redefined the owning and driving experience for individuals seeking a luxury, yet exhilarating experience. After just two years in production, their new Genesis G80 Sport will take to the roads in 2018 with a number of key engineering and feature improvements.
The Genesis team courteously invited Destination Luxury to Napa Valley for a driving excursion across Pacific Coast Highway. We stayed a couple of nights at the beautiful Las Alcobas in St. Helena. Driving over rough terrain, mountaintops, and curvy roads that spiraled up the Pacific Coast Highway, we journeyed through the far-reaching canyons of Napa Valley. We traveled over 150 miles and got a full driving experience of the car.
While the 5.0 liter G80, along with its 3.8-liter little brother, has become a benchmark for quality and comfort in the sedan class, the G80 Sport has captured the imagination of those seeking a little something extra. Powered by a 3.3 liter, direct-injected and twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the Sport certainly lives up to its moniker. Coupled with a sport-tuned, 8-speed automatic transmission and Genesis’ signature ‘shift by wire’ technology, this is truly a driver’s car.
Even upon first glance, the raw pulsating energy of the vehicle is impossible to deny. Supremely elegant and with stylish lines that would leave any Italian fashion house in awe, the G80 Sport exudes a sense of luxury, quality and ultimately, excitement. The design team set themselves the task of creating a car that was ‘athletically elegant’, and with its low profile, short front overhang, and sharply angled rear window, the car is a credit to the team’s efforts. Add to this an enlarged front grill, imposing lower air intakes and darkened chrome work, and you truly have an exceptional looking vehicle. Bold, precision engineered 18-inch alloy wheels come as standard across all of the G80 variants, and are finished in the same dark tones as the rest of the bodywork.
Stepping inside, you are greeted with all of the modern features you would expect of a premium sports saloon. The dark copper exterior trim theme is continued subtly inside with copper contrast stitching, genuine carbon fiber paneling, and well-defined gunmetal gray upholstery. A generously sized armrest provides ample storage for the front passenger and driver, while the center console is built around a 9.2-inch touch-screen interface supporting the entertainment, climate and navigation systems.
For those seeking a more ‘earthy’ vibe, genuine matte wood finishes are also available in either Paldao or Sapele. To ensure the G80 blends perfectly with modern lifestyles, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are installed as standard, and Genesis includes a USB charging port for convenience. For music lovers, the G80 Sport boasts a Lexicon Premium Sound System with no less than 17 individual speakers and Clari-Fi music restoration technology.
Given the sleek and slender profile, the rear cabin is a triumph of design. Class-leading legroom and headspace, well-crafted seats, and a fold-down central armrest make long journeys for up to five people both possible and positively enjoyable. Individual climate controls for rear passengers along with clever light management enhance the luxury experience without ever detracting from the raw, sporty feeling that the Sports edition lives for.
In line with Genesis’ commitment to driver and passenger safety, all G80 models are equipped with a comprehensive standard set of advanced safety features, including Pedestrian Protection with Automatic Emergency Braking, and Driver Attention Alert systems. For longer journeys, Lane Keep Assist and Smart Cruise Control ensure a safe and stress-free ride, while pre-active seatbelts and 9 standard airbags provide peace of mind for those who like to push their ride a little further. Optional extras include front and rear parking sensors, full LED headlights and a full-color Heads-Up Display, meaning you will never miss a moment of the action.
As you would expect, ignition is keyless and the dashboard has been redesigned for the Sports model to enhance the sense of power and energy that radiates from the pulsing V6. At the touch of a button, the twin-turbocharged 3.3 liter V6 springs to life and purrs gently, giving little indication of the 365 brake horsepower that it delivers. The design of the engine has been kept as lightweight as possible, and given the forward position of the front wheels, has a profound impact on the handling performance and directly contributes to the supremely sporty feel.
Upon setting off, the driver has a choice of three driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. Given we were test driving the Sports model, it seemed only fitting to select sports mode. The firming up of the suspension was immediately noticeable, and the automobile handled the curves and bends of California’s Napa Valley like a car half of its size, while never compromising the ride quality. Above all, it was the comfort and genuine sense of security and opulence which left the most lasting impression on us.
Using the built-in features was a breeze thanks to the user-friendly interface, and at no point did the passenger feel in the slightest uncomfortable. To the contrary, when we reluctantly returned to base we all felt more as if we had spent the night in a high-class hotel, rather than putting this magnificent powerhouse through its paces on some seriously challenging stretches of tarmac.
If you’re familiar with Genesis as a brand, then you will know all too well that their focus on quality and service goes well beyond the physical vehicle. Complimentary Servicing, map updates and Traffic data for three years come as standard, along with a best-in-industry warranty program including enhanced roadside assurance. As a package, this makes the G80 Sport truly a possession to be treasured and loved, rather than a mere car to be driven.
Reflecting on our short yet sweet encounter with their car struck me that many automakers deliver impressive acceleration and handling, but very few do it with such poise, grace, and refinement. Athletic? Most certainly. Elegant? Without a doubt.