2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 10
2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 10

Genesis GV80: Because less is more

Riley Riley

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 2

What is it?

Launched late last year, the Genesis GV80 is the luxury Korean car maker’s first SUV.

Since then the smaller GV70 and GV60 have been added in rapid succession, as the brand continues to evolve.

As the most expensive model in a range that now comprises two sedans and three SUVs,  GV80 assumes the mantle of flagship of the range.

It’s designed to go head to head with the likes of Lexus and Volvo as well as lower echelon offerings from the Germans.

Although it carries a three-figure price, it’s targeted at buyers from the big end of town, many of whom will recognise the name — but know little or nothing about the brand.

The important thing, however, is that Genesis is at least on their radar.

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 3

What’s it cost?

GV80 is offered in four variants, with three powertrains, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, five or seven seats, with a somgasboard optional Luxury Package for $10,000.

Entry five-seat GV80 2.5T RWD is powered by a 2.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 224kW of power and 422Nm of torque, with drive to the rear wheels.

GV80 2.5T AWD adds all-wheel drive and a third-row of seats.

GV80 3.0D AWD introduces a refined, all-new, 3.0-litre straight six turbo diesel with 204kW of power and hefty 588Nm of torque.

The flagship GV80 3.5T AWD is headlined by the all-new, powerhouse 3.5-litre turbo petrol V6 that produces an impressive 279kW and 530Nm.

An eight-speed automatic transmission with change paddles is standard across the range.

The seven-seat 3.0D AWD and 3.5T AWD deliver the enhanced ride and refinement of Road Preview Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension (GACS) and heightened dynamic capability, courtesy of an electro-mechanical limited slip differential (e-LSD), together with 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped in bespoke 265/40 Michelin rubber.

Our test vehicle was the seven-seater 3.0D AWD, priced from $103,476, or $113,000 driveaway (prices varies slightly depending on where you are located).

Standard luxury appointments include a mood-lit cabin with leather and real wood trim, a huge 14.5-inch HD touchscreen, 12.0-inch Head Up Display (HUD), panoramic, dual-pane sunroof and a power-operated tailgate — not forgetting 21-speaker Lexicon audio.

The aforementioned Luxury Pack is available across all four variants and adds Nappa leather, 12.3-inch full screen instrument cluster, three-zone climate control, soft close doors, plus a 18-way power adjustable driver’s seat with ‘Ergo Motion’ massage function, along with heating and ventilation for second row passengers.

The safety list is a long one and includes 10 airbags and the Genesis Active Safety Control suite of technologies, including multi-function Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance-Assist (BCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go and Machine Learning functions, and a Surround View Monitor (SVM) with 3D function.

GV80 is a big, impressive-looking machine, at just under five metres in length with a kerb weight of about 2300kg.

The styling is tasteful, chiselled and eye-catching, but not overly busy like some offerings from Lexus.

The front is defined by an imposing, almost heraldic, crest-shaped, mesh radiator grille, flanked by twin-strip LED headlights.

These motifs are repeated at the rear of the vehicle, with twin-strip tail lights and concealed exhaust tail pipes.

A winged Genesis badge adorns the bonnet while the Genesis name is emblazoned across the tailgate.

As history shows, wings are a safe choice when it comes to the luxury car segment.

Linking the front and rear is a bright, reflective, scalloped chrome strip, with decorative gills for the front guards and intricately styled 22-inch alloys capping off the look.

Inside the cabin is an exercise in understatement. 

It’s all there, but presented in a way that is not overwhelming like some German cars.

The vibe is a cross between Lexus and Volvo, with a deep, wide sweeping dash that provides the platform for the large, low profile touchscreen.

It’s underpinned by an unusually long, thin air vent that extends from one side of the dash to the other.

A broad centre console has been de-cluttered, with a tempered glass rotary knob replacing the usual transmission lever.

There’s another circular control that supplements the touchscreen, along with handwriting recognition — does anyone actually use this stuff?

The 12-way power-adjustable leather front seats are wide and comfortable, with heating and cooling.

The second row offers oodles of room for adults, while the third row seats are average in size and earmarked only for occasional use.

A 1050 watt, 21-speaker Lexicon premium sound system delivers crisp, concert hall stereophonics.

The 14.5-inch infotainment screen is not just wide, it’s also nice and easy to read in virtually any light.

There’s DAB digital radio, with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, 6 x Sounds of Nature background soundtracks, the ability to record up to 70 minutes of voice memo along with augmented-reality satellite navigation.

Using the front camera the latter takes vision of the road ahead and overlays navigation instructions for what is a neat party trick, but could make some people carsick.

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 5

What’s it go like?

In the absence of a hybrid or some other wallet-friendly option, the diesel is our prefered option.

It provides an impressive 588Nm of heavy hitting torque but uses just 8.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Torque is the low-end grunt that big V8s are so good at producing.

Diesel achieves the same result, it just does it in a more leisurely fashion and uses less fuel in the process.

There’s two petrol options — a 2.5-litre four cylinder turbo at $95,476 ($8000 less), or 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 at $108,476 ($5000 more) — but why bother?

The diesel is exclusive to the Genesis range and we’re told will not find its way into any Kia or Hyundai vehicles, but as they say — never say never.

The well-insulated diesel provides quiet, effortless performance, with maximum torque available between 1500 and 3000 revs.

The eight-speed traditional style auto is smooth and refined, with only the occasional hiccup.

GV80 has four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom, along with superfluous multi-terrain settings (I mean, who’s going to take one off road).

Custom allows you to set a more responsive throttle, but keep a softer ride — as opposed to often jarring sport settings.

Punch the accelerator and the GV80 gets moving, more quickly than it actually feels, with effortless roll-on acceleration.

Genesis quotes 6.8 seconds for the dash from 0 to 100km/h, with an overtaking-friendly 80-120km/h taking 5.3 seconds. 

To help achieve these figures and to lower fuel consumption, the doors, hood, and tailgate are made of weight-saving aluminium.

Widely spaced wheels and big meaty tyres, reduce body roll and provide plenty of grip in corners.

While it’s perhaps not quite as sharp or agile as an X5 or Q7 when driven enthusiastically, it’s in no way disappointing.

Active noise cancelling, like that found in headphones, and a well insulated cabin reduce engine and road noise to a minimum, and unless you’re getting up it — you wouldn’t know it was a diesel.

While the interior lacks the ambience of a Lexus, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Rated at 8.8L/100km, we were getting 9.1L with a long term average of 9.8L/100km.

Instead of a spare tyre of any description, a tyre repair kit is supplied with a pressurised cylinder of goo to get you going again.

And, in case you’re wondering, the diesel is rated to tow a 2722kg brake load, with a maximum towball weight of 182kg.

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 6

What we like?

  • Looks expensive
  • Finished to high standard
  • Lots of things to play with
  • Dash not overwhelming in complexity

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 12

What we don’t like?

  • It’s all good
  • Tow rating a little low
  • Touchscreen sits too far back
  • Could do with some more legroom for third row

2021 Genesis GV80 30D AWD 4

The bottom line?

You could pay more for a Benz, BMW or Audi, but seriously — why bother?

GV80 is cheaper, does everything these cars do and comes with five years of free servicing as icing on the cake.

That makes it a very attractive test drive at the very least, while choosing a Genesis will  demonstrate you’re not one of the sheep.

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CHECKOUT: Genesis G80: What’s not to like?

CHECKOUT: Genesis G70: Twin turbo the real deal

Genesis GV80 Diesel 3.0D AWD, priced from $112,000 driveaway
  • Looks - 8.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8.5/10
  • Value - 8/10

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