I recall when Lexus came to the market in 1990, as the luxury division of Toyota.
The goal from the outset was to challenge the established luxury brands, specifically Audi, BWM and Mercedes. The critics were unanimous – it wouldn’t work.
The Japanese had no hope of playing in that rarified field. Wrong! Sales took off as a new generation of buyers, lacking brand loyalty, showed an awareness of value.
Hyundai Motor Company and the genesis of Genesis Motors
Here we go again. In fewer than four decades, Hyundai has come from vehicles of questionable quality to a full slate of cars and crossovers that consistently top independent quality, reliability and safety surveys. Hyundai now produces more than five million vehicles a year, with large scale production facilities all over the globe, from the world’s largest single automobile plant in South Korea, to others in India, China, Czech Republic, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Alabama.
Along with sister company, Kia, it has established a huge volume of satisfied and loyal owners who return for a second or third vehicle.
Reputation established, design, engineering and manufacturing all first rate. Time for the next move.
Welcome to Genesis, the new luxury division of Hyundai.
Announced in 2015, the first Genesis vehicle, the G90 appeared in 2017.
It was followed by the G80, G70, GV70, GV60, GV80 and electrified version of the G80 and GV70. The V-series models are crossovers. In 2020 J D Power named Genesis the most dependable automotive brand, and in 2021 the most technologically innovative brand.
The Genesis design philosophy has roots dating back to 2006 when Kia Motors lured Peter Schreyer away from Audi as its Chief Design Officer. He was named President Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) in 2012. A few months later he became head of design for all Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
In 2015, HMG poached Albert Biermann from BMW where he was the engineer responsible for that company’s M division.
Biermann was charged with heading up vehicle development and testing for all HMG vehicles, including those from the newly announced Genesis division. The head of design for the new premium brand would be Luc Donckerwolke, fresh from Bentley where he was head of design. Lamborghini director of brand and design Manfred Fitzgerald, Bentley’s head of exterior design, SangYup Lee and Bugatti Chiron’s exterior designer, Alexander Seliponov, followed.
Genesis’ all-star design dream team tackles the old stalwarts of the luxury market
With an all-star design team in place, Biermann turned his attention to platform development, naming Fayez Rahman vice-president of Genesis architecture development in 2017. Rahman had been responsible for development of several BMW models. He was joined a year later by Thomas Schemera, from BMW’s performance and motorsport division in the US.
With this dream team in place, Genesis set about tackling the luxury market.
From the outset, Genesis laid out a unique marketing plan.
There are no showrooms(yet) and no need for a dealership.
The price includes delivery of your new Genesis to your place of residence or work, and concierge service. Your Genesis will be picked up for service, and a loaner left for your use until yours is returned.
Luxury done right at a bargain prices
I just spent more than a week, and more than 2,000 kilometres in a Genesis GV80. This is luxury done right! The quality of assembly, materials, and their application is unmatched by anything within $100,000 of this crossover.
The tester also showcased a vast array of state-of-the-art technologies and features at a price that makes it a screaming bargain when compared to anything similarly equipped on the market.
From the heavily-detailed exterior design, to a rich and lustrous interior, the GV80 fairly shouts luxury and exclusivity. Real wood, quilted, supple Nappa leather seating, a microfibre headliner and knurled satin metal trim, leave little doubt you are in a rarified atmosphere.
Genesis GV80 Prestige has it all – standard
The GV80 is the largest Genesis, and the test vehicle was the top Prestige trim. No options to be had, or necessary, at this level. The $86,000 brings, power sunshades, surround view and blind spot monitors, and an awesome 21-speaker Lexicon audio system.
The driver seat that can be adjusted in 16 ways and every hour, automatically provides a subtle massage.
You can amuse folks by parking your GV80 in tight parking spots from outside using the remote. When it comes time to use the third row of seats, they can be powered into position by the push of a button on the remote.
The infotainment system centres around a slim 37-cm colour screen. The driver faces a large (31-cm) TFT digital instrument cluster. A multi-layer 3D effect shows layers of information atop one another.
Activate the turn signal in either direction, and a full-colour picture appears in the cluster displaying a real-time, wide angle view of what lies beside you in that space – very high-end! Other unexpected touches include fully automatic climate control for the rear occupants, and an electronic suspension that reads and prepares for the road ahead.
What powers the GV80?
At $71,000, the entry point five-passenger GV80 comes with a turbocharged, 300-horsepower, 2.5-litre four-cylinder, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
All others have a third row of seats and a silky-smooth 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 producing 375-horsepower and 391-lb.ft. of torque. This is sufficient to hustle this 2,250 kg vehicle to 100 km/hr from rest in 5.5 seconds.
Power delivery is instant and linear whether starting from rest or pulling out to pass. The transmission has been programmed to select the right ratio for every situation without the hunting or abrupt changes found in some competitors as they search for a gear.
How’s the ride of the 2022 Genesis GV80?
The ride is surprisingly supple for a vehicle equipped with 22-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile rubber.
The intelligent suspension does an excellent job of preparing the shock absorbers for lies ahead. Combine this with a very stiff structure and you have a combination that remains composed and quiet over nasty surfaces. But this did not come at the expense of handling.
The GV80 behaves like a much smaller, and lighter vehicle when hustled through corners.
Kudos as well for an exemplary lighting system. Clean bright LED light with a crisp cut-off allows you to see clearly without bothering oncoming vehicles. If your routine includes night-time driving, this feature alone warrants consideration.
The mid-size Genesis GV80 may be a newcomer, but it is a legitimate rival to well-established competitors.
If you are in the market for a luxury crossover, do yourself and your bank balance a favour. Compare this GV80 to any other luxury brand with a similar level of equipment and features. You can use the tens of thousands of dollars saved, for other purposes.
You will also enjoy explaining to inquisitive friends and others, what a Genesis is!
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Genesis GV 80 Prestige, AWD
As tested: $86,000 including freight
Highway driving assist II, forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, front and rear parking collision avoidance assist, surround view monitor
21-speaker Lexicon premium audio system, seven passenger seating, 37-cm high-res touch-screen navigation system
22-in alloy wheels, electronically-controlled suspension with road preview, smart cruise control, remote smart parking assist, panoramic sunroof, seven passenger seating, two-setting heated steering wheel, Genesis connected services, heated and ventilated front and rear seats covered in fine Napa leather, open pore natural wood trim, heads-up display, soft micro-suede headliner
Twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6, 375-horsepower, 391 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel recommended. Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 12.9/10.4
Length, 4,945 mm; width, 1,975 mm; wheelbase, 2,955 mm; weight, 1,767 kg