Car Review: 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Test Drive

April 27, 2021


Immediately after the folks at Genesis dropped off the 2021 G80 in my driveway for a test drive, I took it on a quick lap for some groceries. On the way out of the store, a gentleman stopped me with a ‘Hey, that’s a nice car, man!’ As I popped the shopping cart to the stall, he pointed to his Lexus ES and said, ‘That’s mine. But this is really sweet.’

 

 

On the ride home, the G80 turned a few more heads. A pair of yoga-pant-clad-stroller-pushing moms in my suburban New Jersey town eyed the car as I approached, and with a glance to the mirror I could still see their faces as I cruised down the road.

This happened time and time again during my week behind the wheel. I watched people in oncoming cars, sidewalks, and parking lots look up and down the G80 as I passed by, which was not the sort of attention I expected to get driving a “Savile Silver” sedan.

It’s certainly a stunning car on the exterior: Curvaceous lines, a chrome fishnet grill, and bifurcated headlights make it eye-catching to be sure, though perhaps a bit polarizing. The next morning, my neighbor who spotted me pulling into my driveway popped over to check the car out. He said he found the front end rather gaudy and too reminiscent of a Bentley, though confessed the previous G80 was on his short list before he bought his American muscle car.

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder—and, personally I quite appreciate that in this age of automotive homogeneity, the G80 looks like few other cars on the road today.

Interior close-up of the 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD car
A close-up of the 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD’s interior. Courtesy Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love or hate the look, the G80 is inarguably a fun drive. Though in its soul this sedan is more of a lux cruiser than sports car, the G80 3.5T packs enough power to shuffle when the time comes. The 3.5 liter twin-turbo-charged V6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and puts out 375 HP and 391 ft.-lbs. of torque. That’s 10 more hp than the previous generation, making it slightly quicker when you mash the pedal to the floor.

Find a curvy road for some spirited driving, slap it in sport mode and use the paddle shifters to embrace your inner Lewis Hamilton. The G80 could be a touch tighter, there’s some under steer and a bit of roll, but for a car that weighs more than 4,200, it’s still quite nice to play with through the twists and turns.

In more subdued conditions, like a mini-road trip down to the shore on the Garden State Parkway, the ride is soft enough to put three passengers to sleep, while a bevy of driving aides—heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and blind spot monitoring—reduce any stress for the one behind the wheel.

Inside, Genesis has created an oasis. The 2021 model offers an elegantly appointed interior with more space than the previous generation and features a vastly simplified driver interface. In the Prestige package tested, the G80 gets a three-dimensional digital instrument cluster, which is too clever by half and needs to be seen to be believed.

The 14.5-inch touchscreen serves as the command center for the infotainment-navigation system, which comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a circular controller on the center console the driver, or the passenger, can use to make navigation changes or music selections. Of course, the driver also gets some of that functionality through buttons on the wheel, though I was flummoxed for a bit as the controller counterintuitively requires a press down to advance the track; the opposite of other cars. Not necessarily a criticism, but the massive nav screen’s integration gives the impression it could retract into the dash, but it doesn’t.

Though the G80 already has a couple under the seats, the 21-speaker Lexicon sound system has enough power to turn your chest cavity into an extra subwoofer, for when you’re really kicking out the jams.

The car shares a platform with Genesis’s recently launched mid-sized SUV, the GV80, and is in fact nearly two inches longer. So, the back seat boasts ample room for full-sized adults and the trunk is massive enough for a couple of sets of golf clubs, plus luggage.

Price at tested, $68,000; genesis.com

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