Hyundai and Kia have made serious inroads into the world of affordable transport with cars that equal and sometimes beat offerings from more established brands. The group also wants to do the same with the luxury sector by introducing Genesis to the European market – We recently tried the G80 and GV80 to find out if they’ve done enough to take on BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus.
Genesis aren’t exactly a new brand as they have been around since 2015 but they are new to the European market. Think of them like a Korean Lexus. In the same way that Toyota wanted to break into the luxury market by creating a whole new brand, the group behind Kia and Hyundai want to do the same with Genesis. They aren’t rebadged versions of their normal cars. They are ground up designs but utilising their well-established technology and build quality. They’ve entered the market with the G80 Saloon, GV80 SUV and the just announced G70 Shooting Brake.
Genesis also want to change the way you buy cars. They won’t be installing dealerships across the UK. Instead Genesis will come to you. If you are interested in a car, they will drive over to you with a customer representative, not a sales person. No sales targets, no pushy tactics. They want the product to sell itself. Once you’ve bought the car, they’ll pick up and drop off the car if it needs a service or repair and leave with a car of the same type. Not a 1l shopping trolley that you somehow have to squeeze your Tibetan Mastiff into. It’s a bold move that only the likes of Tesla have tried but this seems to have more emphasis on the customer rather than trying to reduce overheads. In fact, at launch, Genesis expect the logistics of moving cars around the country to be just as expensive as the traditional dealer model.
The first car I drove from the new Genesis range was the G80. It is a BMW 5 Series sized saloon but with a more coupe-esqe design language. The first thing that greets you is the big grille. Nothing new these days but somehow the Genesis makes it feel classy. It has more than a wiff of Bentley about the styling without looking like a clone.
Inside, the upmarket British luxury feel continues. Rather than chase a modern aesthetic, Genesis have decided to go for a more traditional luxury feel. It’s both traditional and refreshing at the same time. Personally I feel luxury should be more about how something makes you feel, not how many screens and buttons you can play with. But the Genesis still has an impressive array of tech. The main central screen is large and clear. The dials almost look real but are actually digital. Far better than the often confusing Star Trek-esqe displays seen in rival cars. The climate controls are real buttons too.
Another refreshing feature of the G80 is the fact that they haven’t chased a ‘sporty’ driving experience. They have correctly identified that luxury cars should be comfortable, not exhilarating. The cars are more about getting from point and A to point B with the minimum of fuss rather than delivering a driving experience that is neither fun or relaxing. The engines are easily powerful enough to deliver the sort of performance befitting of a large barge but thankfully won’t spill your latte on full-bore acceleration.
The GV80 is Genesis’ big SUV. Think full-size Range Rover and you won’t be far off size-wise. Again, it has more than a wiff of Bentley about it, especially in this lovely dark green colour (the best colour). It eschews dark sporty accents in favour of chrome-like details. This all helps to make it look expensive. Which it isn’t.
Like the G80, the GV80 feels very upmarket inside. Possibly more-so than its smaller stablemate. It has the same basic layout but with everything a touch larger. You get the same infotainment that can easily rival most of the big brands with lashings of quilted leather and wood (unsure if the wood is real or not but either way it looks great). I especially liked the implementation of cameras in the wing mirrors to help with blind spots. Put either indicator on and one of the dials changes to a clear view down the side of the vehicle meaning you never be caught out by a sneaky cyclist or aggressive man in a white van.
The GV80 does nor quite have the smoothest ride in the business but it is far from harsh. It handles rough surfaces well and all-but-glides over the motorway surfaces. It’s far from the silkiest in the business but it also does not crash and bang like some other major brands. You could call in a happy compromise.
Is Genesis a worthy rival to the establishment?
In short; yes. Not only do they feel like they compete on quality but the G80 starts at just £37,460 and the GV80 at £56,715. Bargain prices for the sector they operate in. When you factor in the Bentley-light feel, they become quite appealing. I think if you like the way they look and dig the interior styling then you should certainly give them a look when choosing your next car. They feel unlike any of the competition yet they feel like they can compete.