It's time to start taking the South Korean luxury automaker for real.
Hyundai’s Genesis luxury sub-brand launched with more of a whimper than a bang. That’s not to say the G90 and G80 are bad cars. It’s just that they haven’t really grabbed too much attention. That may all change with the release of the G80 Sport, a new performance trim launched the night before the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new G80 packs a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 making 365 horsepower. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic which Genesis says has been given a sport-tune and feature shift-by-wire technology.
The G80 Sport also features an upgraded suspension system with continuous damping control. Other new performance goodies include ventilated rear disc brakes to help bring all those horses to a halt when needed. As you’d expect with a sport model the new go-fast G80 has been given a makeover. The front end has been completely redesigned with beefy air intakes and a revised grille design. The alloy wheels measure 19 inches and have a dark finish because darkness equals aggressiveness. Inside the cabin there are sport pedals and a thick sport steering wheel. The front seats are bolstered like it’s going out of style and can be had in black or gray leather. And in case you were wondering, yes, that’s real carbon fiber on the dash.
Genesis didn’t release pricing details for the G80 Sport but did say that it’d go on sale in the spring of 2017. The base G80 with a V6 and rear-wheel drive starts at $41,400. The top-tier V8, which is RWD-only, checks in at $54,500. We obviously expect the G80 Sport to fall somewhere in that pricing chasm. The AWD V6 G80 starts at $43,900, so a couple thousand north of that sounds fair. If the G80 Sport sells for around $48,000 it could prove to be one of the best deals in the segment. For that money you’re going to have trouble getting a mid-size sedan that looks this sporty and makes 365 horsepower. The all-new BMW 5 Series starts at $50,200 and offers less power (240 hp) and tamer looks. The Audi A6 starts at $47,600, has 252 hp and is FWD.
Genesis still has a long way to go before people seriously start cross shopping its models among Germany’s heavyweights. Here’s hoping the G80 Sport will be both a good deal and the attention-grabber the infant South Korean luxury brand so desperately needs. Editor's note: A previous version of this article featured photos of the updated Genesis G80. The red G80 is actually the G80 Sport model.