Friday, December 9, 2022

Genesis Electrified G80 review: an unconventional cruise missile

Genesis is on a roll of late. With an increasing percentage of its upcoming portfolio driven by electric powertrains, the quirky Korean luxury brand looks set to just keep expanding its presence in a luxury segment that’s too long been dominated by too few choices.

Now, Genesis has electrified one of its earliest hallmark models—the Electrified G80, an aptly named, battery-powered flavor of the G80 sedan that helped establish the Genesis brand as a true contender and not a mere curiosity. But does this emissions-free version stand on its own?

Genesis managed to stuff 87.2 kWh worth of batteries in the car.
Picture: Tim Stevens

Brute force electrification

What does electrification mean for the G80? Well, some thorough reworking on the existing car’s platform, for one thing. Genesis managed to stuff 87.2 kWh worth of batteries in the car, much of it going beneath and behind the luxurious rear seats.

Compromises had to be made, unfortunately and a sizable percentage of that pack protrudes up into the trunk. Cargo space is necessarily down, then, from 13.1 cubic feet in the regular G80 to 10.7 here. That’s a big decrease in the form of a large hump, but unless you’re hauling luggage for a month-long European vacation it shouldn’t be an issue.

Compromises had to be made, unfortunately and a sizable percentage of that pack protrudes up into the trunk.

Under the hood, where once an either 2.5- or 3.5-liter engine sat, it’s all inverters and chargers plus all the requisite, bright-orange cabling to connect the lot. Genesis interestingly thing to cover all that with a plastic vanity shroud, giving everything a familiar, internal combustion look. Regardless, there’s no token storage to be found up here. Sorry, frunk lovers.

So what is powering the car, then? Two 136-kilowatt electric motors, providing the equivalent of 182 horsepower each. With one motor per axle, all-wheel-drive is standard. Genesis rates the Electrified G80 at 365 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That’s comparable power and about 25 percent more torque than the quickest of the non-electrified G80s, and you’ll feel it as soon as you dip into the accelerator.

Well, assuming you’re not in Eco mode, anyway, which flattens the throttle curve dramatically in pursuit of maximum range. Go for Comfort mode and the G80 surges forward with every dab at the throttle. In Sport, it’s positively rarer to go, charging out of tight corners harder than its 245/45 RE19 Michelin Primacy Tour A/S tires can grip.

This is no sports car, but it accelerates like one in that delightful EV way. Torque and throttle response are best at low speed, exactly where you want them to zip away from lights or around slower traffic on a two-lane road. It’s only at higher speeds, on the highway, where acceleration feels less immediate. Still, there’s plenty of power for highway overtakes and all the high-speed motoring you could ever want.

Genesis Electrified G80

There’s plenty of power for highway overtakes and all the high-speed motoring you could ever want.
Picture: Tim Stevens

Silent running

The normal, non-electrified G80’s suspension is soft to begin with, but the extra 500 pounds of mass on the Electrified means handling is necessarily compromised. The car wallows through corners and is easily upset on large bumps, the rear end in particular taking a long while to settle. Rougher surfaces send an unfortunate amount of road noise through the suspension, but on the highway, when cruising, the G80 is a delight.

And that’s really how you should be driving this car. Pushing hard just compromises range, which is EPA-rated at 282 miles. In my testing, much of which was spent at highway speed, I averaged consumption of 3.4 mi/kWh. Multiply that by the 87.2-kWh battery pack and you have a theoretical range of 296 miles. That’s inline with the 290-odd miles of estimated range the car would show me on a dash after a full charge.

On the highway, when cruising, the G80 is a delight.

All the more reason, then, to set the cruise control (which also helps maximize EV range) and let the Highway Driving Assist do its thing. HDA does a fine job of keeping the G80 centered in the lane at an appropriate distance from traffic ahead. This is the earlier flavor of HDA, not capable of handling automated lane changes or the like, but it’s still quite good at looking ahead and smoothly maintaining speed even in tight traffic. It does, however, leave a generous gap between the car ahead, which may mean getting cut off a bit more than you might like.

In my time stuck in traffic I wasn’t terribly bothered by that, especially when the car’s Ergo Motion seats kicked in. This isn’t a full-featured massage as such, but drive long enough and the G80 will decide it’s time for you to get a bit of adjustment. The car will inflate and deflate the lumbar support to maximum while also raising and lowering the seat cushion below. It’s nothing compared to the invigorating massages you can get in something like a Mercedes-Benz EQS, but then this car costs $20,000 less.

Rear seats are rather more basic, unadjustable but comfortable, with separate HVAC controls and sun shades on the sides and the back glass. Rear-seat headroom is a little limited, but tolerable, a necessary compromise to facilitate that sloping roofline.

Genesis Electrified G80 interior

The overall interior design is clean and bright and works very well.
Picture: Tim Stevens

Distinctive design

When talking about the exterior design, it’s not hard to know where to start. That massive, chromed crosshatch of the G80’s schnoz is utterly impossible to miss from clear across the biggest of parking lots. It makes one hell of a statement and frankly I think it’s a good one – a strong one at least.

Lighting is sandwiched in a pair of slits that seem too slender for the task at hand, a design cue echoed in the fender vents just aft of the front wheels and again at the back, where the brake lights are similarly bisected. The rear of the Electrified G80 is positively tame compared to the nose, and in fact the entirety of the rest of the exterior is similarly mild, excepting the massive, 19-inch wheels that are so bright they blew out the exposure on my Sony A7 III whenever the sun poked through the clouds.

Back on the inside, my test car had the white interior, paired with the recycled, “forged wood” dash inserts that promise to be good for the environment while providing an interesting visual treat. The overall interior design is clean and bright and works very well. From the driver’s seat, materials are generally good, with carpet extending up the sides of the transmission tunnel. Even the fabric headliner is pleasant to the touch, but poke around and you’ll find plenty of hard plastics within reach, including the door lowers and the ceiling-mounted handles.

Genesis’ distinct steering wheel, four spokes creating two horizontal bars, looks odd but feels good and all the necessary controls are right under your thumbs. Cruise and driver assist settings are on the right while the left handles volume, voice, and media toggles. Paddles on the back adjust the rate of regenerative braking. Sadly there’s no one-pedal mode as such, but hold down the left paddle and the car will automatically bring itself to a stop.

Genesis Electrified G80 interior

The infotainment experience leaves a lot to be desired.
Picture: Tim Stevens

BYO infotainment

The interior design overall is great, but I’m less keen on the Genesis infotainment experience. A shiny, chrome and white rotary knob sits in the center console, which spins left or right and angles in four directions to navigate through the many, many menus.

That’s all fine. The problem is the car’s rotary shifter, which sits all of two inches away, is roughly the same size and similarly covered in shiny chrome. Despite spending plenty of time in various Genesis cars over the years, I inevitably spin the infotainment knob when I’m trying to shift into D.

Ahead of that lies a Qi wireless charging pad, which also features NFC pairing if your phone is suitably equipped. Two USB-A ports are there too for charging the wired way. There’s a 12-volt charger situated in the center armrest, with two USB-A ports for rear passengers hidden in their armrest.

The infotainment experience is the same basic Hyundai experience we’ve been seeing for years, here with a sleek, Genesis-specific skin on it. That doesn’t change the functionality, though. Mapping is basic but functional, while voice-recognition is borderline unusable for anything but the most simple of tasks. Thankfully, you have your choice of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but don’t forget your cable. It’s not wireless.

Overall equipment is comprehensive; options are effectively nil.

Overall equipment is comprehensive; options are effectively nil. The car you see here had a single option, the Capri Blue paint for $575. In fact, beyond interior color, paint is the only option, with the most expensive choice being the matte Verbier White, which looks stunning and is well worth the $1,500 cost.

That means the Genesis Electrified G80’s MSRP of $79,825 isn’t far off from what you’ll likely spend. This car, with the paint and a $1,095 destination charge, stickered at $81,495 total.

This is a lot of car for that amount of money. Sure, it lacks some premium niceties you’ll find on a Mercedes-Benz EQS and has none of the engagement of a Porsche Taycan, but again, you’re going to spend way more to get into either of those with this level of equipment .

More disappointingly, the Electrified G80 lacks some of the more advanced tech features found on the Genesis GV60, like biometric security and Highway Drive Assist 2, which adds automatic lane-changing. But, there’s still plenty of quirkiness about this car to make sure it stands out in any crowd. Most importantly, when you get sick of the crowd, the G80 will smoothly and comfortably waft you away to wherever you want to go.

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