Genesis is launching in Europe with its G80 saloon and this, the GV80 SUV. It won't be sold in Ireland in this guise, but the Hyundai's luxury brand could arrive here as early as 2022. Does the big SUV have what it takes to compete against established rivals such as the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90?
In the metal
It could be the massive grille, or the high bonnet, but the new Genesis GV80 looks huge. Our first thought was that it belongs in the wide streets of Dubai due to it being fractionally longer than a Toyota Land Cruiser, although it is a bit smaller than a Bentley Bentayga. So yes, it's a big SUV, which becomes even more apparent when you drive it through narrow European country lanes.
It's also got some unique looks, with what Genesis calls the "two lines" design, namely two lines across the front, sides and rear. The style is certainly different, which for some will be its appeal, for others a reason to look elsewhere.
Available in both five- and seven-seat variants, another big thing about the GV80 is its interior, which is spacious and luxurious in equal measure. It feels well built, with high quality materials that range from soft-touch plastic to open-pore wood and sumptuous Nappa leather. There's a good mix of old and new school thanks to traditional materials and features combined with the latest technology, such as the digital instrument cluster, augmented reality infotainment and a long list of driver assistance systems. It's all rather opulent, too, which is even more impressive given that the other big thing about Genesis is that it's promising value for money in the premium segment.
The GV80 is big, heavy and powered by a three-litre turbodiesel engine that feels engineered more for long distance cruising than zipping around town. It's responsive enough, but you feel the weight and lack of power very quickly. This is of course fine if you really just want to relax and enjoy the excellent level of comfort that comes from electronically controlled suspension.
Genesis has even taken a leaf out of the Mercedes S-Class book and included something called Road Preview, a technology that scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension to cope with bumps. It's rather clever and works well, ensuring the kids don't spill their juice all over the nice leather upholstery.
The driving position is high and visibility excellent, plus it has remote parking and loads of sensors to make town driving fairly easy, barring the size issue. Another clever aspect is the Blind Spot View Monitor, which displays a video feed of the blind spots in the digital instrument cluster when you engage an indicator (as we've already seen on the Kia Sorento).
What you get for your money
Genesis hasn't yet confirmed when it will launch in Ireland as a brand, and when it does so, it's highly unlikely that the GV80 will be offered for sale in this guise, but we do know pricing in the UK and Europe and the company is really committed to providing excellent value in the premium segment. This means you get lots of standard equipment across one of two main trim lines: Premium or Luxury. Then there are options like the Comfort or Innovation Pack.
Beyond the packages, there really isn't much on the options list, although strangely, you will have to pay more if you want a compact spare wheel.
Also, Genesis is all about value in the ownership experience. It won't have traditional dealerships, but Genesis Studios staffed by Personal Assistants. These people aren't there to sell you a car, no sir, but rather to answer your questions, make you a cup of tea and be there for you when you need a hug. Okay maybe not that last one, but they are definitely there to help. They can also advise you on the superb Genesis Five Year Care Plan. Standard on all models it includes warranty, servicing, roadside assistance, courtesy car, map data and over-the-air updates. It all looks like being rather good value then, and it will be interesting to see if this carries over to the Irish market introduction of the Genesis brand.
Genesis is not pinning its hopes on the GV80, having high expectations instead for the GV70 when it comes along, together with its upcoming electric models. However, the GV80 is a very luxurious SUV that offers tremendous value for money in a segment that can take a huge chunk out of your budget. It might seem more suitable for Dubai than Dublin, but few SUVs will give you as much luxury or as much presence.