G. Chambers Williams

Genesis ramps up the G80 sedan line with an all-new Sport model for 2018

The Genesis G80 Sport is a new model for 2018, expanding the G80 lineup. It comes with a 3.3-liter, 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine, connected to sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual operation.
The Genesis G80 Sport is a new model for 2018, expanding the G80 lineup. It comes with a 3.3-liter, 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine, connected to sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual operation.

Hyundai’s first luxury model, the midsize Genesis sedan, became part of a separate brand called Genesis for 2017, and was renamed the Genesis G80. This is a new luxury brand in the same vein as Toyota's Lexus, Nissan's Infiniti and Honda's Acura.

Now added for 2018 is the G80 Sport model, which starts at $55,250 for the rear-drive version, and $57,750 for the all-wheel-drive model.

Exclusive to the G80 Sport is a new 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine, rated at 365 horsepower and 376 foot-pounds of torque (using premium fuel; performance is slightly less with regular gas).

As with the other G80 models, the Sport comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. But the Sport also gets some unique sport-performance modifications, along with exclusive exterior styling cues.

The G80, which two years ago got a complete makeover as the Genesis, is a good first effort in the luxury realm for the South Korean automaker. It’s not flashy; styling is rather sedate, but in line with many others in this class.

For 2018, there are five trim levels, with prices starting at $41,750 (plus $975 freight) for the 311-horsepower front-drive V-6 model or $44,250 for the all-wheel-drive V-6, and range as high as $59,500 for the 420-horsepower V-8 Ultimate model with all-wheel drive.

Genesis also has a new higher-end model that arrived for 2017, the G90. It’s a full-size sedan with a starting price of $68,100. It replaced the Hyundai Equus, and has some of the same components, including the optional 420-horsepower V-8 engine also available in the G80, but it’s billed as an entirely new vehicle.

The G80 line comes with an array of standard features and technology, and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. All models have Shiftronic paddle shifters to allow the driver to manually change gears, and intelligent drive mode select with eco/normal/snow/sport modes.

The G80’s exterior continues Hyundai's "Fluidic" in-motion design aesthetics, adding a single-frame hexagonal grille and hi-tech, sculptured rear design. The design features semi-gloss chrome and three-dimensional sections front and rear. The sculptured full LED taillight design gives the rear end a wide visual stance.

Base engine for the G80 is a 3.8-liter V-6, with 311 horsepower and 293 foot-pounds of torque. While rear-wheel drive is standard across the line, all trim levels are available with all-wheel drive, which adds $2,500 to any rear-drive model’s price.

Besides the new Sport and the base 3.8 model, the other trims are the 3.8 premium RWD ($46,750), which just adds the $5,000 premium package to the base model; the 3.8 ultimate RWD ($51,850, which includes the premium package and the $5,100 ultimate package); and the 5.0 ultimate RWD ($57,000). Add the $2,500 to any of these trims to get the all-wheel-drive price.

Among special features of the G80 Sport are 19-inch dark-alloy wheels with all-season tires, a sport suspension, a special grille and front fascia, and a sport-tuned transmission, with lower shift points for more-spirited acceleration.

There are stiffer springs in the sport suspension, which also includes continuous damping control, with settings for comfort and sport-performance driving.

The Sport is available in five exterior colors: casablanca white, himalayan gray, caspian black and the exclusive polar ice and sevilla red.

Premium leather seats are standard in the Sport, in black or gray.

For this report, we tested the G80 Sport with the caspian black exterior and black interior, with a suede micro-fiber headliner, sport front seats with contrast stitching, heated and ventilated front seats and heated power tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

The auto-dimming rearview mirror included a digital compass readout and universal garage/gate opener. The driver’s seat was 16-way power-adjustable, and the passenger seat 12-way power.

We also had dual automatic climate control with CO2 sensor, power rear and manual rear-side sunshades to provide more comfort for rear passengers, and a wireless phone-charging pad in a center console tray in front of the shifter, which also included dual USB ports that connected to the audio system, which was Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

There was a great-sounding 17-speaker Lexicon audio system with Quantum Logic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi technology, which included navigation and satellite radio, and a 9.2-inch color display in the middle of the dash.

Also standard were a seven-inch color driver-information display in the instrument panel above the steering wheel, and a head-up display that projected speed and other information onto the bottom of the windshield in front of the driver.

We had carbon-fiber and aluminum interior trim, a proximity key system with pushbutton start, a power tilt/slide panoramic sunroof, and automatic headlights with high-beam assist.

The exterior included Sport-exclusive dark-chrome trim on the windows, outside mirrors, headlight housings, door handles and taillight covers, as well as some copper highlights in the grille and headlight bezels.

Other exterior features included LED headlights with dynamic bending light, LED daytime running lights, and Sport chrome quad exhaust tips.

Our Sport also had a hands-free smart power trunk lid, which is unusual for a sedan. This is something we’re commonly seeing on SUV tailgates, but rarely on trunk lids. In this version, the trunk opens automatically when the key fob is within three feet of the rear for several seconds. The trunk has 15.3 cubic feet of space.

The outside mirrors came with approach lights that automatically activate when the person carrying the key fob nears the vehicle. This was a nice feature for my dark driveway at night. These lights project the Genesis logo onto the ground beside the car.

Other interior touches included an analog clock in the dash (think Infiniti); alloy sport pedals; power driver’s seat extension and side bolsters; heated rear outboard seats; LED reading lights front and rear, along with LED door handle and glovebox lights; and illuminated ignition surround and door-sill plates.

Among the G80 Sport’s safety features is the multi-view camera system, which is similar to Infiniti’s around view system. There’s also a regular backup camera. All of this shows up on the navigation/audio system screen. There are four exterior cameras providing the complete view around the car.

High-tech safety features standard on the G80 Sport included automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention alert, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, smart cruise control with stop/start, front and rear parking sensors, and a haptic-feedback steering wheel.

Other safety features on all G80 models include electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and nine air bags, including one for the driver’s knee.

Also standard are structural safety features such as an energy-absorbing steering column, front and rear crumple zones, five-mph bumpers, hood-buckling creases and safety stops, and body-side reinforcements.

Our car also had the Genesis Connected Services, which bring Destination Search powered by Google, Car Finder, enhanced roadside assistance, stolen vehicle recovery, SOS emergency and automatic collision notification, remote start with climate control, and remote door lock/unlock features. some of the connected services can be accessed from a smartphone app or through an Amazon Alexa device.

This car rides and drives like a similarly priced Lexus or other premium brand, with some sporty driving touches that are like those you’d expect on an Infiniti or Jaguar sedan.

Front and outboard rear seating positions were quite comfortable, and even an adult riding to dinner in the middle of the rear seat had no complaints, although the middle position is better left empty or used for a child, especially on a long drive.

The 3-3-liter engine provided excellent acceleration, both from a stop and while pulling out to pass on some two-lane country roads with limited passing zones. The automatic transmission shifted smoothly and at mostly the right times, even during some spirited driving. We really didn’t need the paddle shifters.

There were no options on our G80 Sport AWD, so the total sticker price was $58,725, which included just the base price and $975 freight charge.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2018 Genesis G80 Sport sedan

The package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, rear- or all-wheel-drive, twin-turbo V-6, gasoline-powered, premium sport sedan.

Highlights: Added to the Genesis G80 lineup for 2018, the Sport model comes with a more-powerful turbocharged V-6 engine than that found in the base G80. It has special exterior and interior styling touches, as well as sport suspension and other extras. It’s a fun-to-drive premium sedan with a decent price for a luxury brand, and includes lots of high-tech safety features.

Negatives: Rear seat better suited for two people than three.

Engine: 3.3-liter V-6, twin-turbocharged.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 365 HP./376 foot-pounds.

Length: 196.5 inches.

Curb weight: 4,519 pounds (RWD), 4,674 pounds (AWD).

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Electronic stability/traction control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front/rear seat-mounted; side-curtain for both rows.

Trunk capacity: 15.3 cubic feet.

EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/25 highway/20 combined (RWD); 17/24/20 (AWD).

Fuel capacity/type: 20.3 gallons/unleaded premium recommended for best performance; regular acceptable.

Base price: $55,250 (RWD), $57,750 (AWD), plus $975 freight.

Price as tested: $58,725, including freight (no options).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.