- Feels special in and out
- Sublime fit and finish
- Distinctive design in and out
- 2.5L turbo engine lacks character
- Luxury Pack should be standard
- Short 10,000km service intervals
It may surprise you but Australia is one of the toughest new car markets in the world to break into. A mix of far away location, high buyer expectations such as lengthy standard equipment, ludicrous taxes such as the Luxury Car Tax, high safety standards thanks to ANCAP and yet, a love for low starting prices means that the Australian new car market is hard yakka with strong competition. Brands that don’t make the cut are chewed up and spat out – just ask Infiniti, Opel, Seat and so on. But there are still brands that want to try their luck here, including a certain Korean luxury brand that’s had a recent influx of new and distinctive product. The 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T is the latest example of that. What’s it like? Let’s find out.
What is Genesis, you ask? It’s the luxury brand of Hyundai – the Lexus to Toyota, if you will – and it’s been making waves thus far in the luxury arena with its distinctive design, excellent quality and good value for money. Australian sales are not huge just yet, but unlike Infiniti, Genesis has a great range of cars that’s only increasing – the mid-size GV70 SUV is about to launch, the mid-size G70 has just been facelifted and the new G80 sedan has an electric version launching soon as well. The GV80 SUV that we tested sits on top of the Genesis tree for now, and it competes with cars such as the Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q7 and BMW X5. No pressure to perform, then…
Price & Equipment: 8/10
Priced from $90,600 plus on-road costs ($99,410 drive away), the 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T comfortably undercuts its main rivals on pricing – and yet, it also features a massive amount of standard equipment as well.
Standard GV80 2.5T fare includes 20-inch alloy wheels, all-LED lighting, auto lights and wipers, leather upholstery, a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start with remote start, a 40:20:40-split rear seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated, auto-dimming and auto-folding mirrors, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats with memory functionality, selectable driving modes, a panoramic glass sunroof and a 1,050W 21-speaker Lexicon sound system.
Standard safety kit is also extensive with 10 airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, intersection assist, front and rear cross-traffic alert, evasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention monitoring, lane keep assist with lane follow assist, safe exit assist, a heads-up display, a 360-degree parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitoring camera, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality and tyre pressure monitoring.
Optionally available on every GV80 model is the $10,000 Luxury Package, which includes reverse auto braking, Nappa leather upholstery, a suede headliner, Matrix headlights, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, active noise control, remote parking, tri-zone climate control, soft-close doors, 18-way power driver’s seat with massaging, a heated steering wheel, powered, heated and ventilated second row seats and power adjustable third-row seating. We think the Luxury Package – or at least most of its contents – should be standard equipment as that would give the GV80 an even larger equipment advantage over rivals.
Above the GV80 2.5T RWD sits the 2.5T AWD ($95,600 +ORC), which adds a third row of seats with air vents and a fan speed controller, while the V6-powered 3.0D ($103,600) and 3.5T ($108,600) also add 22-inch alloy wheels with suspension that previews the road ahead for a better ride.
Genesis has an excellent range of colours and good news for those who like colour: they’re all free-of-charge, aside from optional matte paint. Metallic options include ‘Uyuni White’, ‘Savile Silver’, ‘Gold Coast Silver’, ‘Lima Red’, ‘Himalayan Grey’, ‘Cardiff Green’, ‘Adriatic Blue’ and ‘Vik Black’. Matte options ($2,000) include ‘Matterhorn White’, ‘Melbourne Grey’ and ‘Brunswick Green’. Interior colour options include black, beige, brown and blue/tan.
We consider chief competition to the entry-level GV80 to be the Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI (from $89,226 drive away or $105,922 fully optioned) and the Lexus RX300 Sports Luxury (from $98,066 drive away). It’s worth noting that for the price of an optioned base model Touareg, the GV80 offers seven seats and buyers can choose the slightly longer RX-L if seven seats are needed (though it’s priced from $95,000 drive away as an RX350L in lesser Luxury spec – to match the Genesis for kit, you’re looking at almost $115,000).
Performance & Fuel Economy: 7/10
Under the bonnet of the GV80 2.5T is a 224kW/422Nm turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that’s matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The GV80 2.5T is rear-wheel drive as standard, while all-wheel drive is optional (which also includes two extra seats). Using a turbo-four is not unique in the luxury segment – the Lexus also uses one – though the Touareg is solely available with a turbo-diesel V6 engine that features higher up in the GV80 range.
The engine itself is used in Australia in the Sonata N Line – albeit detuned in the Sonata – and it’s a peppy engine with a 0-100km/h claim of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 237km/h. But speed is not the point of the GV80 and the engine is capable of propelling it along quietly without fuss. Push it and it’s not overly special though, with little in the way of noise, but those wanting more speed from their GV80 can choose the grunty V6 diesel or petrol. The eight-speed automatic has really nothing much to say about it, aside from that it’s pretty well perfect.
“But speed is not the point of the GV80 and the engine is capable of propelling it along quietly without fuss.”
Genesis claims that the GV80 2.5T RWD will use 9.8L/100km on a combined cycle, though in our testing, we achieved a lacklustre 12.2L/100km – around 4L/100km more than the Touareg in our testing. It does weigh 2,073kg (tare) though, so it’s no lightweight. The GV80 uses minimum 95RON fuel and features a large 80-litre fuel tank.
The 175kW/350Nm 2.0L turbo petrol engine in the Lexus RX300 is down a whole 50kW/70Nm on the GV80 2.5T, and its fuel consumption claim is only 1.7L/100km thriftier. But choosing the Touareg will give you claimed consumption of just 6.8L/100km from its 170kW/500Nm 3.0L turbo diesel. It would be nice to see the GV80 with stop-start functionality though, which would help fuel consumption and emissions.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
Based on Hyundai Kia’s ‘M3’ platform, the GV80 feels fresh behind the wheel. It’s not sporty for the sake of being sporty, but nor is it soft and wallowy either. It’s very comfortable despite fixed steel springs – there’s no air suspension here – and even on Sydney’s rubbish roads, the GV80 rides with a level of polish. Unlike its rivals, the GV80 is tuned for Australian roads and it shows with excellent body control – unlike the G80 sedan.
“Unlike its rivals, the GV80 is tuned for Australian roads and it shows with excellent body control – unlike the G80 sedan.”
Unlike the all-wheel drive Lexus and four-wheel drive Touareg, the base GV80 is rear-wheel drive. Those imagining entering a drift contest in this car need not apply as that is so not the target market for this hefty SUV. With 2,073kg (tare) of mass to shuffle, the GV80 is no sports car. But show it some corners and it drives confidently and – almost – sportily. There are a few different driving modes such as eco and sport that change parameters of the GV80, including steering weight and throttle response, though we left it in comfort mode as it best suits the car’s character.
“Those imagining entering a drift contest in this car need not apply as that is so not the target market for this hefty SUV.”
The steering is fairly light but offers some feel, though the steering wheel’s diameter is quite thick. Noise suppression is excellent with very little road noise and overall, driving the GV80 is a convincingly luxurious experience, which is not something you often say about a product from a fairly new luxury brand. Unlike the RX300 as well, it’s definitely enjoyable to drive.
Interior & Practicality: 9/10
While there are a number of ways for a luxury car to pluck at your heart strings, the interior is arguably the most important part and can make or break a luxury brand. Thankfully for Genesis, the interior of the GV80 is excellent its design and execution. It’s high in quality, it’s – like the exterior – distinctive, it’s very comfortable and it’s packed with technology that is intuitive to use.
Centre of the cabin is a 14.5-inch touchscreen that can also be controlled with a rotary dial. Unlike the Touareg, the infotainment system isn’t shared with a $30,000 hatchback and it’s well laid out with a nicely integrated horizontal screen. It’s feature packed too with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, satellite navigation with live traffic and even features such as the ‘sounds of nature’ that plays sounds such as a fire burning or snow falling. The thumping 21-speaker Lexicon sound system is excellent as well – it’s immersive and easy to tune.
“Unlike the Touareg, the infotainment system isn’t shared with a $30,000 hatchback…”
The quality inside the 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T is excellent – certainly better than the Lexus and Touareg. Sumptuous leather covers the seats and steering wheel, while the switchgear all feels positive in its operation and feedback. The dashboard and door materials are nice and soft too, with detailed stitching adorning most surfaces. There are features, such as wireless phone charging and a huge heads-up display, that mix a traditionally luxurious ambience with modern technology.
“There are features, such as wireless phone charging and a huge heads-up display, that mix a traditionally luxurious ambience with modern technology.”
It’s a spacious and practical cabin as well with plenty of storage options. Big door bins, a set of large cupholders, a huge under-console tray, a big centre console box and a large glovebox feature with plenty of options for storage. Space for occupants is great as well – six+ footers will be more than comfortable sitting behind each other. The seats are very comfortable with lovely leather quality, and the rear seat is supportive as well.
Bootspace in the 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T is huge with 735-litres on offer with the seats up and 2,152L with them folded. The boot offers features such as hooks, a 12V socket and underfloor storage as well, plus a full-size alloy spare wheel.
Service & Warranty: 9/10
Part of the Genesis ownership experience is a Lexus-like service with complimentary picking up and dropping off of your car for servicing (if you’re within 70km of a service centre), as well as a loan car while it’s being serviced. Genesis goes a step further with five years/50,000km (whichever comes first) of servicing included in the cost of the car. A solid five-year/unlimited km warranty with five years of roadside assistance rounds out the aftersales package.
Lexus’ warranty is a lesser four-year/100,000km term – though that’s still more than Audi and BMW – with three years/45,000km of servicing for $1,785 ($595 per service). Volkswagen features a five-year/unlimited km like the Genesis, though it doesn’t offer picking up of your car or concierge services. Three years/45,000km of servicing costs $1,867 but that can be pre-purchased with the car for slightly less at $1,600.
The 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T RWD DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.4/10
We started this review asking what the 2021 Genesis GV80 2.5T RWD is like: special. It feels special. Why? It’s a great first-time effort from Genesis, which is making its name in producing distinctive products that don’t follow the herd by looking different, feeling great with plush interiors, driving well with Australian-tuned suspension and offering good value for money, especially with five years of complimentary servicing.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Genesis brand will succeed in Australia. Offering only a handful of ‘stores’ – the brand doesn’t feature traditional dealerships, instead using stores in shopping centres – and only in Sydney and Melbourne won’t help sales. Establishing a new name, especially in the luxury segment, is tough but with Hyundai’s backing and soon-to-be two new SUVs, we think the Genesis brand will do well. Genesis sales are slowly increasing and its presence is starting to be felt on our roads. And with products as good as the GV80, the winner is the customer as more choice can only be a good thing.