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Can the Genesis G80 Sport Compete With European and Japanese Luxury Rivals?

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author photo by William Byrd November 2017

The Genesis G80 Sport is an important car for the relatively new Hyundai spin-off. Can Genesis pull off the same feat Lexus accomplished several decades earlier and start to steal buyers from the established luxury automakers? The segment is as competitive as ever, but my time in the new G80 Sport was surprising in quite a few different ways, most of them good.

I wrote a column almost four years ago postulating that Hyundai should split off the Genesis lineup into its own brand. That wasn't a rocket science-level assessment, but it turns out they did it! That must have been like quitting your job to go out on your own. Or quitting your cushy job at Porsche to become a writer. However, Hyundai is no small business venture, so it's not like Genesis didn't have a backer. In fact, the Hyundai Motor Group, which, as of a few years ago, became the world's fourth-largest vehicle manufacturer (behind Toyota, Volkswagen Group and General Motors), posted something like $217 billion in revenue in 2015. It is also part of an even larger Hyundai conglomerate, which oddly enough includes a department store group!

So the spin-off of Genesis was no surprise -- and it's well-funded, at least in theory. So how does all this relate to their new G80? Well Genesis technically only has two models, and the G80 is one of them. The larger G90 comes standard with a 365 horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 and starts around $68,350. The G80 has a more pedestrian 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6 with 311 hp as the standard engine. Oddly enough, BOTH cars are available with a 420 hp V8, which is pretty cool. The tester that we sampled at the Washington Auto Press Association Rally was the G80 Sport, which Genesis bills as a third car on its home page -- even though it really just links to an anchor tag within the G80's section. So is this just a sport package for a G80?

Sort of, but it's a very solid sport package for the G80. The car you see here on video came in at only $56,225, which is a lot of car for the money any way you look at it. It's not slow, either, as I managed to get the rear tires loose without even trying. Later, my co-host, Ike from the Untitled Car Show, was able to get them loose by trying. Good fun, especially in something this big, as rivals include the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS.

Speaking of big, we played up the "VIP riding in the back" angle in this "film," and, as you can see, it does pretty solid duty as an executive car. This brings me to the question: Who buys this thing? I'm not totally sure, but definitely not someone who's brand-conscious, as they'll buy something German (or possibly Japanese). But for the buyer who has $60,000 budgeted for a luxury, sporty sedan -- yet doesn't care what badge is up front -- it's quite good. And now that it has the slightly more anonymous Genesis wings up front, it may just fool some people into believing it's even fancier than it is. Hey, it worked for Lexus.

Driving a 2018 Genesis G80 Sport

Based in Northern Virginia, William is professional writer and editor and acts as the Editor-in-Chief of Right Foot Down. He misspent most of his youth on tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as killing cones in parking lots, and he once taught at a teen performance driving school.

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Can the Genesis G80 Sport Compete With European and Japanese Luxury Rivals? - Autotrader