Road tests

New Genesis GV80 review: a cut price Bentley Bentayga?

Genesis’s flagship SUV looks great and oozes quality, but it can’t quite see off the established competition

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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Verdict

If you’re after a luxury six-seater, then it’s possible to view the GV80 as a cut price Bentley Bentayga. The interior is superb, the middle row seats are sumptuous and even the third row feels plush. However, compared to similarly priced SUVs, the GV80 can’t compete dynamically. Genesis quietly dropped a smooth, refined six-cylinder diesel from the range, and the only remaining petrol option isn’t up to the standards we’d hope for in a £75,000-plus car.

In its relatively short tenure in the UK, Genesis has kicked out some impressive hits. The GV60 is a smart EV that can stand toe-to-toe with the best of the competition. The GV70 SUV looks fantastic and has the cabin quality to match rivals like the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC.

Unfortunately, the Hyundai group’s fledgling premium brand can’t hit the mark in the same way with its flagship SUV, particularly in the GV80’s poshest Luxury Plus spec. It’s priced from £75,825, and it struggles to live up to that figure.

That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to like, though. The 4.9-metre long SUV has its sights set on the BMW X5 and, thanks to the availability of third row seating, the Audi Q7, yet the striking styling and tasteful detailing lend it more than a hint of Bentely Bentayga. The intrigue of the Luxury Plus comes in the middle of its three rows, because in place of a centre seat, there’s a large console splitting a pair of captain’s chairs. 

That console houses an array of controls from which each occupant can access their own touchscreen, with entertainment, video and even trip functions available. Wireless smartphone charging and extra USB ports can keep all of the devices topped up, while a pair of deep cup holders cap off the console’s features. Either side, the seats are wonderfully comfortable. They’re heated, cooled, and can recline electrically (into their full airline-style mode if you prod the ‘relax’ button), so it really gives a first class feel.  

The GV80 is even reasonably accommodating in the third row, too. Access to the back is fairly easy, because the middle row seat slides forward electrically (be careful though, as if the front seats are quite far back, the headrest can squish those middle row touchscreens as they meet in the middle.) The third row seats are almost as soft and as comfy as those captain’s chairs, but headroom is a little tight and the floor is high so your upper legs are lifted off the seat base. Still, it’s competitive compared to other SUVs this size, and kids will love it back there.

Head to the front, and it’s just as impressive. The cabin quality and sense of occasion is comfortably on a par with any of the German class leaders, and it’s loaded with equipment, too. A set of fantastic LED headlights, 22-inch alloy wheels, laminated front glass, an 18-speaker Lexicon sound system, a 3D digital instrument panel and level 2 autonomous driving all feature. There’s even a Remote Smart Parking Assistant, which allows the car to be remotely driven out of a tight parking space, as standard. 

The ergonomics aren’t perfect, though. The huge 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system is quite a stretch from the driver’s seat, and while a workaround comes in the form of a click wheel on the centre console, this is pretty fiddly to use, because it sits flush with the console and is hard to grip. The infotainment system itself isn’t as sharp or fast as the setup in a BMW X5, either.

While there have only been minor gripes so far, the main way that the GV80 falls short of the competition is the way it drives. Genesis says that the GV80 has been developed on European roads, but most of those must've been a long distance from a pockmarked British A-road, because the ride has a level of firmness and constant fidget that means that it’s not particularly smooth at any speed. Both a BMW X5 and Audi Q7 are significantly more soothing, yet they feel better tied down in the corners, too. The GV80’s handling isn’t bad for a car like this - and the steering’s weighting and precision is great - but it doesn’t feel as sharp as you’d hope considering the trade-off in ride quality.

The biggest let-down, however, comes under the bonnet. At this price point many rivals offer either six cylinders or plenty of hybrid assistance, and sometimes both. The Genesis doesn't have either. Instead, you get a 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit with 300bhp. That sounds fine on paper, but with well over two tonnes to shift, performance is only ever decent - and for the best part of eighty grand after options, that isn’t really good enough. 

It’s not just the outright power, but the torque that’s the issue here. With all of that mass and a bluff nose to push through the air at motorway speeds, the gearbox has to kick down more than you’d find in similarly sized rivals, which isn’t ideal when the shifts themselves are a little clunky and unresponsive.

The other downside is the fact that with the GV80’s engine needing to work so hard, it proves to be rather thirsty. Even on a motorway run, you'll be grateful to get over 30mpg - around town, it'll be closer to 20. Genesis used to offer a six-cylinder diesel in the GV80, which by almost any measure - efficiency, refinement or performance - was better suited to this car. Diesel has fallen out of favour as a fuel, but it was definitely the one we’d rather have had here.

Model:Genesis GV80 Luxury Plus
Price:£75,825
Engine:2.5-litre 4cyl turbo
Transmission:Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power:300bhp/422Nm
0-62mph:7.7 seconds
Top speed:144mph
Economy:25.3mpg
CO2:248g/km
On sale:Now
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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