In the beginning there was one Genesis, and it was called a Hyundai.
Now there are three, and the Hyundai name is nowhere to be seen.
South Korea’s automotive giant has introduced a luxury model aimed at the heart of the prestige market: high-riding luxury SUVs. Called the Genesis GV80, it takes on the likes of Audi’s Q7, the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90.
It has everything Hyundai can throw at a car today, except electric or hybrid power, which will come later.
For now, the GV80 is available with a choice of three engines.
Australian customers are expected to choose a new 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel motor using a claimed 8.8L/100km to make 204kW and 588Nm. Other options include a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine using 10.4L/100km of petrol to produce 224kW and 422Nm, or a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 trading 11.7L/100km thirst for 279kW/530Nm punch.
All three engines use more fuel than rival machines. The diesel offers the best balance of thirst and thrust — it’s a smooth performer, with effortless overtaking ability and a good partner in Hyundai’s eight-speed auto.
All three engines drive both axles, though four-cylinder customers can choose a cheaper rear-drive layout if they want to save money.
Priced from about $98,000 drive-away in two-wheel-drive form, the GV80 costs about $103,000 drive-away for all-wheel-drive or about $117,000 drive-away for the twin-turbo V6.
Genesis’ diesel option starts at about $111,500 drive-away, which isn’t much cheaper than Euro alternatives. Audi’s Q7 opens at $113,000 or so, BMW’s X5 starts at about $112,500 and the Mercedes GLE 300d is $114,500 drive-away.
But the Genesis brings a more powerful engine and much more impressive standard features than any of the Germans at that price.
The diesel model we tested comes with 22-inch wheels, adaptive suspension and seven seats as standard. Luxury features include leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, open-pore wood panelling, three-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate.
There’s a 14.5-inch central wide-screen, wireless Apple Car Play and phone charging, plus Android Auto via USB, a 21-speaker stereo, 360-degree camera with animated 3D parking assistance and clever augmented reality satnav that projects directions on a live video feed of the road ahead.
Driver aids include auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alerts.
A $10,000 luxury pack brings a 12.3-inch digital dashboard with a layered 3D effect, plus nappa leather, active noise cancelling, self-parking functions, matrix LED headlights and upgraded seats with heating and cooling for the second row and massaging up front.
You won’t get more gear in a luxury SUV for the cash.
A five-year warranty comes with five years of free servicing, plus concierge services such as pick-up and drop-off arrangements — handy, as Genesis’ dealer network is extremely limited, with no dealerships in Queensland or Victoria, let alone less populated states.
The SUV looks distinctive, with uptown proportions and split front and rear lighting separating it from the herd. Its interior is well-finished and spacious.
However, it lacks the wow-factor of a modern Benz, Volvo or Tesla Model X, which all make a bolder statement than the Genesis’ conventional layout.
It’s a similar story on the road. Impressive enough trundling around town, the Genesis did not stand up to closer scrutiny on the winding roads chosen for its local launch.
The two-tonne wagon heaved, pitched and wallowed through bends. The huge wheels thump on sharp bumps, and the lack of a spare tyre instils little confidence on gravel. Approximate steering doesn’t help the cause and Hyundai’s hardware doesn’t match the air suspension of the best in class.
GENESIS GV80 3.0D VITALS
Price: From about $111,500 drive-away
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo diesel, 204kW/588Nm
Warranty/servicing: 5-yr/u’ltd km, free for 5 yrs
Safety: Not rated, 10 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert
Spare: None (repair kit)
Cargo: 727L (5 seat mode)