First Drive: 2021 Genesis G80

To say that the Genesis brand has come a long way would be a huge understatement.
To say that the Genesis brand has come a long way would be a huge understatement.

by Jon Pangindian | November 23, 2020


MUSKOKA, ONTARIO – Genesis Motors Canada invited a handful of media to the picturesque Muskoka region for a first drive of the all-new 2021 Genesis G80. Some fresh snowfall and twisty roads provided a great testing environment for this very relevant and important luxury sedan. The all-new GV80 will undoubtedly be the brand’s bestseller, but it’s the predecessor to the G80 that introduced the “Genesis” name to the luxury market just over a decade ago.

While Japanese and American luxury manufacturers have put their focus on sport utility vehicles, they have neglected the sedans, which largely remain on platforms that are several years old. Genesis has completely turned a new page over the last few years and have brought forward the award winning G70, the aggressively priced G90 and today, the all new G80. This new G80 brings many firsts to the brand and that includes two fantastic engines never seen before.

A common complaint for Genesis has been the “me too” design language that took cues from various competitors and produced derivative-looking cars, up until now. Genesis has finally come into their own with a new design, and as a result the G80 looks like nothing else on the road. Parabolic character lines along with Quad Design Lamps that extend to the side markers and taillights bring a new and dynamic design. The G-Matrix design that is pronounced on the front grill is carried throughout the exterior and onto the interior of the G80.

Compared to the previous G80, this 2021 model is lower, longer and wider. This provides a hunkered and more elegant stance that seems to hug the road and grab attention from anyone that is lucky enough to see one in person. Driving around Muskoka had other drivers and pedestrians doing a double take more times than we can count, and the reactions were all extremely positive.

The interior is actually more impressive than the interior and in a similar fashion, it looks like nothing else on the market. Everything from the materials used on the G80’s dash, doors, lower trim, center console, dashboard and seats is simply first rate and should give executives at Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln and BMW something to worry about.

A best-in-class 14.5 inch infotainment screen is standard on all models.  Users can choose to scroll using the touchscreen or elegant multimedia controller on the console. In addition, the G80 3.5 uses a 12.3 inch digital gauge cluster that shows off 3D capabilities. The effect can be reduced or shut off entirely, another first. And yes, let’s not forget the 12-inch colour heads up display, also the largest in its segment.

Knurled controls are everywhere and provide a tactile feel and level of quality missing in many of the G80’s competitors. The Nappa leather on the seats is buttery smooth and the seats are immensely comfortable. They’re supportive in the corners and just dreamy to sit in for the daily commute. The air vents run across the dash and blend seamlessly between the upper and lower dash for a clean and minimalist design that Genesis has aimed for.

Quiet as a tomb is a good description of what it’s like to sit inside the 2021 Genesis G80.  Acoustic laminated glass is used throughout, with dual-paned windows. All of the doors are triple sealed with weatherstripping to reduce wind noise, and resonant sound reducing wheels were created specifically for this large sedan. It’s Lexus levels of quiet, and that’s no easy feat. If things get too quiet, turn up the 1050-watt Lexicon stereo, with 21 speakers and subwoofers under the seats.

You won’t find the typical stark grey or black interior in any G80, because Genesis has committed to bringing some of the boldest and striking interiors around. Two tone combinations are the norm and there are five choices for Canadian buyers to pick from. The Forest Blue and Maroon Brown with real wood Ash Color Gradation is stunning to say the least. Seriously, a blue leather interior that is nothing like a 1995 Ford Taurus. This is the next level of luxury.

Two brand new engines are available on the G80, and are also shared with the new GV80 and upcoming GV70. The base engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, with 300 horsepower at 5,800RPM and 311 lb-ft. of torque at just 1,650RPM. It’s surprisingly peppy for such a large vehicle, and those coming out of the previous model’s naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 won’t be disappointed. It’s matched well to an eight-speed automatic and with lighter weight than the six cylinder, the G80 2.5 Advanced felt quick and nimble through the twisty back roads on our test loop.

The outgoing car’s 3.3-liter boosted V6 was a sweetheart, so the new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 has proven to be a willing performer as well. With 375 horsepower at 5,800RPM and 390 lb-ft. of torque at 1,300RPM, it’s seriously quick and buttery smooth in its power delivery. This is the engine to opt for if you can spend the extra cash, because a G80 with the 3.5T is an exceptional car to eat up the miles in.

Fuel efficiency for the four-cylinder 2.5T comes in at 10.8L/100km city and 7.9L/100km highway for a combined 9.5L/100km. Step up to the 3.5T and the V6’s efficiency is 12.9L/100km city and 9.0L/100km highway, and a 11.2L/100km combined rating. Consumption was a weak point on the outgoing G80 and even the G70 with the V6, so this is a pleasant number. We’ll be conducting a weeklong test with both engines to see what real world consumption is like.

All of the advanced safety features that are expected in today’s cars are on board. All models come with Highway Drive Assist, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, Surround View camera system, and rear cross traffic alert. The V6 adds Forward Attention Warning, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist Rear and Remote Smart Parking Assist.

While other luxury manufacturers offer various packages that will run up the price of the vehicle, Genesis G80 only comes one way, fully loaded. The only choice buyers get is the powertrain. Pricing for the 2.5T Advanced comes in at $66,000 and the 3.5T Prestige comes in at $76,000, right in line with four and six-cylinder versions of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-series.

To say that the Genesis brand has come a long way in a short amount of time would be a huge understatement. The new G80 is further proof of what this relatively new player to the industry is capable of as it gets into its stride. The 2021 Genesis G80 is exactly what Genesis needed to showcase what they are capable of. With the G80 and the GV80, other luxury car makers need to look over their shoulders and in some cases, in front of them.

See Also:

First Drive: 2021 Genesis GV80

2020 Genesis G70 3.3T Prestige

2020 BMW M550i xDrive

Vehicle Specs
Engine Size
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
The Podcast

About Jon Pangindian

Staff Writer

An experienced detailer and diehard car guy, Jon brings a creative eye to his new vehicle road tests. Aside from writing, Jon spends most of his time tinkering with new detailing products and experimenting with ceramic coatings.

Current Toy: ’13 650i Gran Coupé