by Jay Traugott
In order to be a fully-fledged member of the luxury automaker club, having at least one SUV is a requirement. Genesis, the up and coming South Korean luxury brand owned by Hyundai, has officially unveiled its all-new GV80. The 2021 Genesis GV80 not only takes the brand in a new direction but also proves once and for all that Genesis is the real deal. The typical luxury players, such as Audi and BMW, have taken notice. And because Genesis already has an excellent track record with its luxury sedans, it knew exactly how to go about developing an SUV.
With its unique exterior styling and many new technologies inside, the GV80 could very well be the mid-size luxury SUV segment disruptor we've been waiting for. Although exact US market details have yet to be announced, Genesis revealed the GV80 in its home market of South Korea, where manufacturing will also take place. The SUV you see and read about here will be making its way to North America's shores in the very near future.
Genesis calls its latest design language "Athletic Elegance," a name that couldn't be more appropriate. The company has embarked on an aggressive strategy to win the luxury market design contest and the 2021 GV80 is no exception. Perhaps its most noticeable feature is the large signature crest front grille. On either side are quad lamps featuring "sophisticated lighting technology." Look closely and you'll see a G-Matrix pattern that appears in light fixtures throughout the exterior. Genesis claims this was inspired by orchids seen when diamonds are illuminated by light. This design can also be seen on the optional 22-inch wheels (19-inch wheels are standard).
The rest of the SUV's body is enhanced with hot-stamped, high-strength steel, while lightweight aluminum is the material of choice for the doors, hood, and tailgate. Why does the GV80 look this good? Because Luc Donckerwolke, whose past work includes the Lamborghini Murcielago and Bentley Flying Spur, now serves as Chief Designer Officer of the Hyundai Motor Group.
If you're going to compete against big names like BMW and Audi, you need to bring extra fuel to the fight.
Because the luxury SUV segment is quite crowded, Genesis knew early on only the best interior would do. And then it raised the bar even further. The result is a styling theme described as "luxury in space" thanks to its open and airy feel (both two- and three-rows are offered), and yet technology is in abundance. For starters, there's the design of the sleek air vents that run across the passenger compartment. A 14.5-inch, split-screen infotainment display is located atop the dashboard. Designers went to great lengths to avoid the use of hard buttons and switches as much as possible for both aesthetic and user-friendly purposes. It's a minimalistic style that continues to the center console where the transmission shift dial is located.
Additional technologies include an augmented reality navigation system and the Genesis Integrated Controller. The latter is particularly interesting because it has a handwriting recognition feature. Users simply set a destination or enter other data without having to even physically touch the keyboard or nav screen. Genesis also gave the GV80 a noise-canceling system, capable of monitoring road noises in real-time and generating sound waves to counter them.
Genesis has yet to announce what will power the GV80 in the US but we can make some very good guesses based on one vital fact: the GV80 rides on the same rear-wheel-drive platform (all-wheel drive will be optional) as the Genesis G80 and Genesis G90 sedans.
The base engine could very well be the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 304 horsepower. A 3.5-liter V6 could also be an option. There's also the possibility Genesis will opt for the familiar 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft, an engine used in the Kia Stinger GT. Those who opt for AWD will also receive a limited-slip differential.
Genesis is equipping the GV80 with "an unmatched level of standard active and passive safety systems." Some of these include Smart Cruise Control with Machine Learning, Highway Driving Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Avoidance Assist, and a Driver Attention Warning system. A total of 10 airbags come as standard.
The Genesis GV80 is aimed directly at the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, Volvo XC90, and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport. All four have recently been redesigned or given a significant refresh, so the GV80 has some challenges ahead. But like the rest of the sedan lineup, Genesis knows how to undermine these established brands with not only style and technology but also value and pricing.
Genesis hasn't announced official pricing, but expect the GV80's base price to be somewhat similar (if not less) than the X5's starting MSRP of $61,695. Sales in the US are set to get underway later this year.