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[Behind the wheel] Genesis G80 Sport combines elegance and dynamism

The two previous models of Hyundai’s premium brand Genesis have been popular as corporate cars among executives, but this might change with the launch of the G80 Sport, a speedy luxury sedan unveiled in October.

According to the company, 71.3 percent of the 500 preorders taken between Oct. 6 and 31 were made by those in their 30s and 40s, while 7 percent were by those in their 20s.

The shift in the vehicle’s popularity among younger consumers might be due to its hip design, which drew hordes of younger customers when it was first revealed at the Busan International Auto Show in June.

At a media test drive event Tuesday, Luc Donckerwolke, head of the Genesis design team and a previous Bentley design director, said the design of the G80 Sport is a combination of elegance and dynamism which was achieved through enhancing the athletic aspects of the original G80.

The test drive of 53 kilometers from Mayfield Hotel in western Seoul to an art gallery in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, was not long enough to test every function of the vehicle, but it still allowed drivers to feel the excitement of driving such a powerful luxury sedan. 

Genesis G80 Sport Hyundai
Genesis G80 Sport Hyundai

The G80 Sport is offered in seven colors including rare ones for the South Korean market such as coast blue, turbine red and tan brown. The seven colors, which also include the more common colors of marble white, polar ice, carbon metal and onyx black, can be matched with one of three sets of interior trims: copper black, ice grey and sport blue.

The vehicle has full light-emitting diode headlamps, with sequential direction lamps to emphasize its dynamic drive performance. It comes with a weave grille, 19-inch Continental tires, a tinted rear combination lamp, a dual twin-tip muffler and a black high-glossy rear diffuser.

The interior design of the G80 Sport also has a sport-style 19-inch, three-spoke steering wheel, seats covered in Nappa leather and a highly positioned dashboard.

When in sports mode, the actual hum of the engine, combined with synthetic engine sounds, are piped through 17 Lexicon steel speakers.

The G80 Sport has a 3.3-liter twin turbo engine, the same engine used in Genesis’s EQ900, also known as the G90 overseas, producing 370 horsepower and 52 kilogram-force per meter of torque as well as electronically controlled sport suspension.

The Genesis Smart Sense, an optional feature, offers semiautonomous driving technology with Advanced Smart Cruise Control, lane keeping assistance and a blind spot monitor.

The G80 Sport appears to be a winning combination of Hyundai’s technology and efforts to improve its design competitiveness.

But the G80 Sport might face challenges, as the new Genesis sedan is entering a market which has grown more competitive lately due to the inflow of imported cars.

The launch and success of the G80 Sport is critical for Genesis Motors, which marked on Friday the one-year anniversary of its spin-off from Hyundai.

During the past year, Genesis has expanded its presence as a luxury car brand, particularly in its home country. The company said the Genesis brand occupies 46.6 percent of market share in the luxury car segment. In the first nine months of the year, there were 105,666 luxury cars sold in Korea, up 8 percent from the same period last year. Genesis sold 49,222 vehicles during the period, jumping 58 percent on-year.

The carmaker said that it aims to continue its success overseas. The G80 was launched in August and the G90 was rolled out in October in the US. The brand was also introduced in the Middle East and Russia this year. Genesis aims to launch its models in Europe and China in the coming years. 

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com


Genesis G80 Sport specifications 

Base price: 66.5 million won ($58,000)

Price as tested: 77 million won

Powertrain: Twin turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 Lambda turbo, gasoline direct injection, electronic sport suspension

Horsepower/torque: 365 horsepower and 52 kilogram-force per meter of torque.

Driving modes: comport, echo, sport, snow

Color: marble white, coast blue, turbine red and tan brown, polar ice, carbon metal, onyx black

Length/weight: 4,990 millimeters /2,020 (2WD), 2,090 kilograms (AWD)

Wheelbase: 19-inch light-weight alloy wheels
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