It’s been roughly thirty years since Carl Sewell, a young(ish) scion of a Cadillac family, opened a nice store in Southern Dallas for a new Korean franchise, Hyundai. With a contemporary design and an advertised base of $4,995, the Korean brand’s entry-level Excel was absolutely gonna’ kill its Japanese and American competition at – of course – the low end of the food chain. And if the seeming disconnect between Hyundai’s approach and that of Cadillac might have been disconcerting to observers, it didn’t seem to have bothered Mr. Sewell. Until, of course, the Hyundai Excel started breaking.
Within relatively short order, Sewell’s Hyundai store became Sewell Buick-GMC, and within the next decade – now late ‘90s – Hyundai started to get its automotive act together, with a 10-year powertrain warranty signaling the introduction of reliability to its otherwise competitive designs. And twenty years after that, we have an all-new brand – Genesis – propelling the Korean carmaker into the sometimes murky marketing waters of luxury and near-luxury. The opening salvo is the Genesis G80, and while we’ve looked at the base, V6-powered G80 recently, today’s discussion will revolve around the 3.3T Sport.
The basic premise of the Genesis G80 is time-proven. Product planners spend many, many hours dissecting all that is good in BMW’s 5 Series and Benz’s E-Class, while also noting those areas which prove problematic. Although German luxury is inherently reliable when new, smart money wouldn’t include a 10-year warranty on a German luxury car. And in our limited experience, the ventilation, audio and infotainment controls can all seem somewhat overthought on a BMW or Benz; if we were working at Hyundai HQ, we’d work to simplify same.
So, create a footprint that overlaps the 5 Series and E-Class almost exactly, enclose it in sheetmetal looking – we think – more Euro than Asian, and design an interior that is fully contemporary, but with no details a consumer will find off-putting. And finally, give it a window sticker that will both surprise and delight those accustomed to paying $60K for their BMWs and Benzes.
Our first G80, tested earlier this year, came with Hyundai’s 3.8 liter V6. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these six cylinders and this displacement, real men – and their women – would inevitably spec the G80 with the available V8. And we’d have no argument with eight cylinders (we absolutely love ‘em in the family’s Grand Cherokee), but eight cylinders on any automotive menu can quickly make that menu read like something from the last century. Better – most think – to offer a turbocharged six if you want to ‘man’ that menu up.
And the Genesis team has. In addition to the still available V6 and V8, you can now spec your G80 with a 3.3 liter twin-turbocharged V6, driving to either the rear wheels or all wheels through an updated 8-speed automatic. The specs – 365 horsepower (@6000 rpm) and 376 pound-feet of torque (between 1300 and 4500 rpm) tell one side of the story, while the driving experience itself tells another.
The duality of this 3.3 liter turbocharged V6 is nothing short of amazing. To be sure, it ain’t the duality of a Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, but this 4-door can be as docile as you want it while errand running – we do errands every fifteen minutes – or as rabid as you want while merging onto a freeway or negotiating an off-ramp. It’s putt around in stop-and-go driving, or Katy-bar-the-door as the turbos fully engage and you have the benefit of real horsepower, mucho torque and a balanced platform with direct – and relatively communicative – steering. The G80 feels smaller and lighter than its 118-inch wheelbase and 4500 pounds imply, and we can’t wait for Genesis to introduce its smaller sedan in the 3 Series segment.
At a base price of around $42K the lesser-equipped G80 is a screaming deal on a good car. Opt for the 3.3T and your very well-equipped ‘Sport’ sits in the mid-$50s, making it a good deal on a screaming car. And while the Genesis retail experience is not yet established, with Genesis signs sitting beside Hyundai signs in the same facilities, you’re buying the car and not – remember – the coffee, bagels or well-appointed sales rep. In short, before buying that 5 Series or E-Class drive a Genesis. And then, of course, decide.