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2021 Genesis G80 RWD 2.5T - Review by David Colman +VIDEO

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Great looks and priced right

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL

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David Colman
While the 2021 G80 may carry the same nameplate as last year's Genesis mid-size luxury sedan, it is in fact built on a completely new platform, which it shares with the company's first-ever SUV, the GV80. Since the underpinnings of the G80 are newly minted, it follows that the sedan's body shell is also fresh as well. While the outgoing G80 was a decent looker, the new one plays in a different league altogether. If you didn't know what you're looking at, you would think this low-slung beauty might be the latest Aston Martin or Jaguar. It really is that striking, both outside and in.

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The authoritative chrome front grill mimics the shield of the Genesis emblem. The G80's attractive beltline sweeps rearward from grill to tail plane in one compelling sweep. However, the strikingly low stance of the new GV80 is more than just an optical illusion. The 2021 model sits nearly half an inch lower than its predecessor, as well as 2 inches wider. Wheelbase is reduced by half an inch. These seemingly minor tweaks add up to a silhouette that is notably sleeker than the more slab-sided model it replaces. Extensive use of aluminum has enabled Genesis to pare 240 pounds from the curb weight of the previous model.

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Another major shuffle takes place under the hood. It is with some disappointment that I note the wonderful 420hp V8 of the previous G80 has been discontinued in favor of a pair of significantly less powerful engines. The preferable choice is a 3.5 liter turbocharged V6 which replaces the outgoing model's turbo 3.3 liter V6. The new V6's 200cc displacement gain allows it to produce 375hp to the old V6's 365hp. The other new engine, which powered our test car, is a 2.5 liter inline 4, twin turbocharged to make 300hp and 311lb.-ft. of torque. Both motors drive the G80's rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox is controlled by a confusing rotary dial on the center console, augmented by paddles on the steering wheel. Our test model Genesis carried a base price of $47,700. Its Porto Red paint added another $500. You could upgrade this sedan to all-wheel-drive for an additional $3,150. The top level V6 with all-wheel-drive raises the price to $62,250.

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If you've experienced the surge of a G80 powered by the erstwhile V8 or the turbo V6, the newly available turbo 4 will leave you unimpressed. It's not straight line performance that's at issue here, because the 2.5T is plenty quick enough to win a stop light grand prix when you nail the throttle (0-60mph in 6.4 seconds, Standing Start 1/4 mile in 14.8 seconds). What's cause for concern is the lag time of the turbo, which takes one full second to answer your throttle call when the transmission is in Drive and your driving mode selector is in "Comfort." In steady state freeway cruising, the turbo 4 is not only quiet and well behaved but also significantly more fuel conservative than the hungrier V6. But when you need to make a quick lane change, the kick-down shift of the 8-speed gearbox does not mesh well with the turbo 4. As a result, the transition from part throttle to full throttle feels jerky. Also, the GV80 is equipped with auto stop/start technology. This system automatically kills the motor when idling in traffic, then relights it when you subsequently hit the throttle. Unfortunately, the whole car shudders when the restart occurs. These shortcomings are out of keeping with the G80's otherwise discrete and capable performance persona.

In terms of outright sports quality handling, this Genesis encroaches on BMW-level sedan mastery. Genesis does not stint on equipping the G80 with premium 18 inch alloy rims which are shod with twisty road-friendly Michelin Primacy Tour A/S radials (245/50R18) that will give you lots of cornering grip while offering long tread life (TW 580) as well. The nimble four-cylinder G80 is the lightest model you can buy at 4,300 pounds, and it loves to hug curves and strife apexes with precision. This is a surprisingly agile back road bomber, especially when you dial up the "Sport" mode from the available Drive Mode Select button.

The interior treatment Genesis presents, even in this base model, is luxurious, handsome, and comfortable. The leatherette seats do a great job of imitating leather. The standard navigation and infotainment systems play out on a 14.5 inch video screen that seems to stretch from one end of the windshield to the other. Adjustable ambient lighting turns the G80 into your night time party bus, while quad LED headlights turn the night into day. We gave a friend of ours his first look at the exterior and interior of the G80 and asked him to estimate its cost. This friend has been selling Lexus vehicles exclusively for the last 20 years. $55,000 said he. If a specialist like that can miss the boat by more than $5,000, you just know you're getting a great deal on the entry-level G80 for $49,245.

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2021 GENESIS G80 RWD 2.5T

    ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4, DOHC 16 valve, intercooled and turbocharged
    HORSEPOWER: 300hp
    TORQUE: 311lb.-ft.
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23MPG City/32MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $49,245

HYPES: Punches Above Its Weight in Looks and Feel

GRIPES: Turbo 4 Too Crude For this Elegant Package

STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10