+ Excellent interior quality
+ Great infotainment and tech
+ Seven seats available
- Blingy styling
- Fidgety ride around town
- Some rivals more fun to drive
Verdict: The GV80 offers a refreshing alternative to the Audi Q7 and BMW X5, and as a large premium SUV it ticks most of the boxes it should, especially for those who love tech and a mostly comfortable drive. But the breadth in choice of specs and engines from rivals means it has a tough battle on its hands.
We’ve been here before: a new premium brand enters the UK market bristling with determination and ambition to give the German Three premium brands a run for their deutschmarks.
In the case of Genesis, the brand we’re talking about here, it has quite literally been here before, albeit in a far more lacklustre way. In 2015 the Hyundai Genesis saloon went on sale in Britain. It sold just 50 examples before being discontinued.
Now Genesis is a standalone brand, it’s dropped the name of its parent company, and its opening shot in its assault on the premium car sector is this Audi Q7 and BMW X5 rival: the GV80.
Along with the G80 saloon, launched at the same time, the GV80 stands on the road out thanks to its bold and blingy styling, with its US and China-friendly (markets in which Genesis has found success already) chrome grille and signature quad headlamp design.
The interior is much more of a universal crowd pleaser: it’s an open expanse of expensive materials which is laid out thoughtfully and feels extremely solid and well-built. The cabin is on a par with anything from Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW. If you prefer the more clinical design of the Audi Q7 then the GV80 might not be to your taste, but no one can accuse Genesis of skimping on cost.
Part of the pleasing interior is the 14.5-inch infotainment system. It can be a bit of reach for the driver’s fingers but that hurdle is overcome by a rotary dial on the driver console. The graphics are sharp and the response time very good, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard.
The GV80 is a big car, and as such offers plenty of head and legroom throughout the front and back of the cabin. Passengers in the back won’t struggle for space at all, but if you option the extra two seats for £500 you’ll get a fairly cramped third bench. The Audi Q7 offers more room in this area.
Some will like the simplicity of the fact Genesis is only offering two engines of the GV80, others will see it as a drawback as it means there are both faster and more frugal versions of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5. Customers can choose between a 300bhp 2.5-litre petrol unit, or a 247bhp 3.0-litre diesel.
Genesis says it prioritises comfort and serenity on the road over out-and-out performance, but even so both engines offer a decent punch. The diesel is definitely the smoother and makes more sense on a car this size thanks to the extra torque. The GV80 also offers a ‘Road Preview’ system which uses cameras to read the road ahead and adjust the damping in real time, similar to the system found in cars like the Roll-Royce Ghost.
It doesn’t work as well as you would like, especially around town where the ride can feel a little fidgety and flighty. Optioning the 22-inch wheels won’t do you any favours if you want a peaceful cabin, even the active noise cancellation system struggles to block out road rumble, but if you go for the standard 20-inch wheels there is a sense of calm about the GV80.
There’s a lot to like about the GV80, and while it doesn’t beat its German rivals in any one particular area it’s an accomplished premium SUV. Genesis is majoring on its sales experience as a USP, offering personal assistants to each customer and a promise to pick-up and deliver from homes or offices for any servicing or repairs, as well as a courtesy car drop-off.
That could be enough to make those who value their time above everything else think about going Korean instead of German for a change.
The cabin is the highlight of the GV80, and those who deem a premium environment in which to spend hours on the road more important than handling prowess should seriously consider taking a test drive – and remember Genesis will bring the demonstrator car to you.
There’s a wide range of interior colours and material packages to choose from, including multiple real wood suites, as well as black gloss options. Opting for the Luxury Line spec maximises the opulence and offers the option of things like plush quilted Nappa leather seats, but in all specs the seats are electronically adjustable.
It’s not as minimalist and clinical as something like the Audi Q7, and some might not like the bling-effect of the notched bezel of the rotary dial, but the fit and finish is excellent.
The 14.5-inch infotainment system boasts great graphics and the response is quick, but it can be a bit fiddly using the rotary dial to navigate all the menus, which you’ll need to do as the touchscreen is a bit of a reach from the driver’s position. Likewise, the graphics on the 12.3-inch digital driver display are of a high standard and you can configure the information shown in a lot of different ways.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, and it’s worth upgrading to the Lexicon audio system which not only has superb sound quality but also comes with active noise cancellation, which works in a similar way to sound-cancelling headphones by blocking high-frequency sound waves.
The GV80 is a big car which means you won’t struggle for leg or headroom in the cabin – at least not in the front and second row of seats. If you opt for the third row of seats you will get a cramped sixth and seventh perch - the Audi Q7’s third row is certainly roomier.
Even the standard front seats offer a great range of movement, as does the steering wheel, so you’ll find a comfortable driving position without a problem. The Comfort Seat Pack makes the front seats even more, er, comfortable and means the second row of seats can slide backwards and forwards and even recline at the push of a button.
There are plenty of useful storage spaces throughout the cabin, although the glovebox is fairly small, as are the door bins.
The size of the boot depends on whether you have optioned the seven seater version and if those seats are upright or not. With them deployed you get a meagre 328-litres to play with, which is actually a little more than the Audi Q7, but when folded flat that rises to 727-litres. The five seater gets a bit more room at 735-litres.
If you drop the second row of seats you get 2,152-litres of load space in the five-seater and 2,144 in the seven-seater. Overall that’s more generous than the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5, and even a large family shouldn’t struggle for storage.
For now the GV80 comes with the choice of one diesel engine or a single petrol engine, but be in no doubt about the fact that electrified versions will be available further down the line.
Our recommendation is the 3.0-litre diesel unit which produces 247bhp and a meaty 588Nm of torque. It’s actually faster than the more powerful petrol engine, with a 0-62mph of 7.5-seconds and offers 25.3mpg according to WLTP figures.
The 300bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged engine does 0-62mph in 7.7-seconds but returns a more favourable 31.4mpg. Because the diesel is a six-cylinder engine it feels smoother in its power delivery than the four-cylinder petrol.
All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and AWD drive as standard.
As mentioned, the engine of choice is the smoother six-cylinder diesel, which pulls strongly from the get-go and doesn’t rattle or complain at slower speeds. The petrol engine needs a bit more work and can make in-town driving a bit more of an effort.
Despite our test car being fitted with the noise-cancelling system we did notice quite a lot of road rumble from the 22-inch wheels, but that would probably be helped by optioning the 20-inch wheels.
The Road Preview system isn’t as seamless as similar systems found in other cars, when bumbling around town things like speed bumps are a little intrusive, but it must be said that the dampers do a good job of absorbing potholes and other road imperfections at higher speeds.
Genesis says it is going for a calm, comfortable driving experience over handling performance, and on the whole it has pulled this off. The GV80 doesn’t want to corner with the same precision as something like the BMW X5 but neither does it wallow in bends like many SUVs of its size.
In terms of driving tech there is plenty on offer. Adding an Innovation Pack for £3,900 brings front and rear collision avoidance assist, a head-up display, parking assist and a smart cruise control system, which learns your driving style so it can drive in your preferred manner when adaptive cruise control is turned on.
All of these systems work well and help take a lot of the stress out of day-to-day driving.
Prices for the five seat diesel GV80 start at £56,815 and rise to £57,315 for the seven seat version. For the petrol model prices are £56,715 and £57,215 respectively.