By Eric Peters
Small things now come in big packages.
The Genesis G80, which is a big sedan, used to be available with a big V-8. It now comes standard with a small four. The same is true of its main rivals: the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans.
The good news — in the case of the G80 — is that not all the news is small. A bigger V-6 is now optional, and it has two turbochargers and makes more power than last year’s optionally available V-6.
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What It Is
The G80 is the second biggest sedan offered by Hyundai’s luxury division, Genesis, slotting in just behind the flagship G90. It is about the same size as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedans. And, like them, it is based on a rear-wheel-drive layout with all-wheel drive available optionally.
At a price of $47,700, it comes equipped with a 300-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. At $50,850, the optional all-wheel-drive system becomes available.
You can upgrade the G’s boiler room to a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 375 horsepower.
The rear-drive G80 so equipped costs $59,100; with the optional all-wheel-drive system, the price rises to $62,250.
In addition to its new engines, the ’21 G80 also gets an updated look and new technology, including Evasive Steering Assist: a system that one-ups the more common “hit the brakes” automated collision avoidance systems that try to stop the car before it hits something. This helps the driver steer around what it may otherwise be about to hit.
It has a larger, stronger standard engine than those that come standard in more expensive rivals such as the BMW 5 and Benz E.
It has generous rear-seat legroom (38.7 inches) versus those rivals.
It has standard heated rear seats and steering wheel in all-wheel-drive-equipped versions.
What’s Not So Good
It has a much smaller (and a bit less powerful) standard engine than before.
The larger, much stronger optional V-6 bumps the price up by more than $11,000.
The safety technology can be overly peremptory.
Under the Hood
The G80’s formerly standard 3.8-liter V-6 has been replaced by a 2.5-liter four — with a turbo — to boost the power to 300, which is almost as much power as the previously standard 3.8-liter V-6 made.
If you want more cylinders — and much more power — the G80 is available with a new 3.5-liter V-6 with two turbos. It replaces the previously available 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6, which made 365 horsepower. This new V-6 makes 375 horsepower.
Both of the G80’s engines are paired with the same eight-speed automatic transmission.
On the Road
There is nothing bad to say about the power — or the performance — of the G80’s new standard four. Its boosted 300 horsepower is enough to make it move like a $50,000 luxury-sport sedan ought to move. It gets to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds.
But it doesn’t sound like a six — and that could be a problem for this $50,000 luxury-badged sedan.
It has been a problem for BMW, which has had to resort to artificial sound enhancement to make its four sound less like one.
The optional six needs no enhancement. It sounds appropriate and performs even more appropriately. So equipped, the G80 almost breaches the five second barrier to 60.
The G80 also feels like a $50,000 car.
It is solid like a safe in a Pullman car.
It also sounds like a $50,000 car inside in that you hear little, except what’s on the excellent (and standard) 12-speaker audio rig. Or if you prefer the sounds of gentle rain or crackling fire, you can dial those sounds up (literally) using the rotary/push control knob on the center console.
At the Curb
The new G80 looks a lot like the G90: the biggest car Genesis offers. They both get a more dramatic-looking front end anchored by an inverted trapezoid-themed grille, flanked by tiered LED slit headlights. A Bentley-looking winged badge is pressed into the hood just behind the leading edge of the grill.
Though the same size as its main rivals, the G80 is a bit bigger where it counts. On the inside . Particularly in the back seat area where there’s 38.7 inches of legroom for passengers versus 36.2 in the Benz E-Class sedan and 36.5 inches in the BMW 5 sedan.
The G also comes standard with bigger amenities — including the previously mentioned 12-speaker audio system and the 14.5-inch LCD touch screen, which is bigger than the 12.3-inch touch screens that come in the BMW 5 and Benz E.
The Bottom Line
Other than the small trunk — and the smallness under the hood — it’s hard to come up with much to fault about this car. It’s sad the six is now optional, but it’s impressive that the G80’s new four retains the power of a six, which is something its main rivals haven’t been able to do.
At least, not without charging you more.
And even then, not giving you as much.
Eric’s latest book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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