The new Genesis GV80 clads its cooling air opening with a grille that is at least as opulent as the established competition BMW X5 and VW Touareg. We check how the neatly dressed Koreans in the upper-class trill of almost five meters long and around 280 hp strong diesel SUV proposes.
Nissan's noble offshoot Infiniti and the GM brand Cadillac are the most prominent examples of manufacturers who have recently targeted the European premium brands with new combustion models. That was around ten years ago. Infiniti has long since withdrawn here, Cadillac currently only offers the compact SUV XT4.
Despite these not very encouraging examples, the Hyundai Group is now tackling this venture with the still young Genesis brand. Like Infiniti and Cadillac, the Koreans want to get involved with sedans and SUVs in the middle and upper classes. They also announce an electric version of the five-meter-long G80 sedan and a shooting brake of the more compact G70 in the format of the C-Class and Co.
So there's a lot going on at Genesis, and the white GV80 test car has an extremely helpful feature for newcomers: With a 278 hp straight six-cylinder diesel, it costs a lot less than the equally powerful competition. Compared to the basic variants, it offers more equipment for 63,400 euros, although the VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI costs 5,095 euros more and the BMW X5 xDrive30d even 11,400 euros.
If we adjust the test car variants to an equipment level, the Volkswagen costs around 12,000 euros and the BMW even 19,000 euros more than the GV80, which is available as a seven-seater for only 500 euros more. It is currently only on display in Munich, but you should be able to test drive it anywhere. It is picked up for maintenance and brought to independent partner workshops.
Genesis with noble flair
In the GV80 with the Bentley-like brand logo, the noble flair goes with the service: Nappa leather seats (2,580 euros), plus real wood paneling and high-quality leather look everywhere else, which only the price list reveals to be synthetic.
On the center console there is a silver plastic ring for the infotainment control, which, in addition to the rotating function, can be pressed like a directional pad to jump to other menu levels. Functionally, it corresponds to the rotary pushbutton on the BMW, which you don't press for further menu levels, but tilt it. This works better because you can grab the iDrive switch while rotating the ring with your fingertips, iPod-style.
As soon as you get used to the handling, the rotary ring makes it considerably easier to use while driving, just like the direct selection buttons (e.g. Home, Back, Navi). There are also two rotating rollers for the volume and the map zoom as well as a well-assorted selection of steering wheel buttons.
Voice control requires practice because it only understands certain phrases. If you use it, it works decently - if not, it confusingly often complains about too loud background noise even when stationary.
It would also be nice if the speed level wasn't selected using a rotary switch. The eight-speed automatic transmission developed by Genesis shifts smoothly and makes sense in sport mode, but never nearly as quickly as the equally smooth eight-speed converters of the others, especially when compared to the ZF-8 box in the BMW.
Despite the comfortable transmission, the 2.3-tonne truck drives off sharply and powerfully at the traffic light, and you only notice a short turbo lag when you start it at full throttle. Otherwise, the diesel always responds quickly, and the speakers can amplify its restrained sound a little if desired - without disguising the comparatively sluggish sprints.
The slightly firm but overall comfortable chassis of the Genesis gambles away the great first impression initially on a section of motorway, which even on the left lane is marked by numerous transverse joints that are only visible at second glance. You hardly notice it in the air-sprung competitors, but the adaptive dampers of the conventionally sprung GV80 can't cope with it at all. Although the front camera scans the road and the data flows into the damper control, the structure on the section constantly shakes minimally, which is extremely annoying. It even looks as if the bonnet is shaking slightly, but this is not confirmed on smoother roads. The GV80 drives much more comfortably on it, but remains a good distance away from the deeply relaxed comfort of the others in every situation.
At high speeds, this also applies to the wind noise that is not too loud. In addition, the strongest chassis noises arise with him away from the motorways over coarse patchwork rugs. The Lexicon music system cannot hide this, even with opposite frequencies (noise canceling).
Over land, it reacts rather solidly to steering commands with slightly increased rolling movements. The low-feedback steering also prevents a rapid build-up of trust, because the steering wheel receives no information about the lateral forces present. Nevertheless, after a period of getting used to it, you can take reasonable turns in the Genesis, even though its regulated multi-plate limited slip differential hardly brings any momentum into the handling. In the 18-meter slalom he delivers presentable values, but when changing lanes twice he shows that the others are much more sporty.
Although the backrest bolsters tense in sport mode, the lateral support is rather poor; In addition, the seat belts often pull tight when the lateral dynamics increase. The seats are comfortable, although the headrests come a little too close despite the longitudinal adjustment. Depending on the equipment, there are fully electric seat cushion and backrest adjustments at the rear, and even the backrests of the third row fold in and out at the push of a button.Climbing up there is hardly dignified for adults, but the headroom is only enough for children anyway.
Comfort artist Touareg
A third row of seats is otherwise only available in the X5, for which BMW charges 1,700 euros - linked to the single-chamber air springs all around. For 5,900 euros, the VW ignites the complete technical firework with two-chamber air springs, which can not only change the height, but also the spring strength. The rear wheels also steer, and electric motors are attached to the stabilizers for active roll stabilization. It doesn't drive as directly as the X5, which does without active stabilizers in the test car configuration. Nevertheless, the VW leans little in sporty corners, drives cleanly on the articulated line and communicates the load conditions to the steering in a way that is easy to understand.
Above all, it always bounces wonderfully comfortably everywhere. Although you can already feel road damage, but only gently, and the structure always remains pleasantly quiet. These are qualities that the X5 also delivers, but not quite with the same finesse, especially for the rear passengers.
The comfort of the Touareg is limited only by its 286 hp V6. It delivers an incredible punch and outclasses the Genesis when accelerating from 100 to 200 km/h by more than eight seconds and still reaches the speed 1.4 seconds ahead of the BMW. But it starts annoyingly sluggishly from the start, so that in stop-and-go traffic there is a gap in front of you. Even when turning at city speed, you always have to step on the gas a little earlier to keep going smoothly.
In the interior, the VW impresses with a huge touchscreen, which is equivalent to a typical business laptop. That's mighty cool and useful, for example with the large display of the 360-degree parking cameras or in the full-screen mode of the navigation map. This can also be raised in the digital speedometer. In contrast, the display on the BMW instruments is tiny, and the Genesis can pack up with the arrow display on its speedometer with a barely perceptible 3D effect.
Although the well-structured touch infotainment in the VW mainly offers large graphic buttons and you can set up the main menu sensibly, operating it while driving is not as easy as with the competitors, also because you are looking at a lower-positioned monitor.
You also have to be in the correct speedometer or infotainment menu to end a phone call, because there is no separate button on the steering wheel for this. Strictly speaking, there are no longer any real buttons, because the less user-friendly VW touch surfaces have now overtaken the Touareg - with the result that the steering wheel heating is sometimes unintentionally activated in curves.
The voice control, on the other hand, works well, but under the same premise as with the Genesis: Anyone who says "navigate to" instead of "navigate to" will fail.The rear passengers, on the other hand, operate their two climate zones with proven buttons. As in all test participants, this allows a sufficiently powerful airflow to be set at the rear, which also flows out of the B-pillars, as in the BMW.
At the back, it's the most comfortable with the greatest footroom under the front seats and the most ample legroom on the rear bench seat, which can be tilted and moved as standard. The second favorite is sitting in the Genesis, which is the only one on the outer rear seats that can be equipped with seat ventilation.
The BMW can do everything
Although the back seat in the five-seater X5 test car cannot be adjusted, even for a surcharge, it is easy to bear there. In common with the VW, it has buttons in the trunk for lowering the body and mounting points for a partition net on the B and C pillars. Unlike the Touareg, the blind can be stowed under the loading floor, as in the Genesis. The trunk lid, which opens in two parts, is one of the highlights, because two people can sit on it.
In the cockpit, the BMW warns the driver if he is approaching a red traffic light or a stop sign too quickly. However, in contrast to the Genesis, it dispenses with additional video mirrors for the blind spot, the images of which are faded into the digital speedometer when blinking.
Otherwise nobody can beat the X5 technologically, especially in terms of operation. The excellent basis is provided by the iDrive switch plus direct selection buttons, plus eight freely configurable favorite buttons. The language assistant complements all of this excellently, because it doesn't just work, it can also do a lot more than the others: head-up display on/off, sound settings or read out from the operating instructions - everything is included. In addition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available here without a cable connection, which is why the inductive charging station in the BMW offers the greatest added value. Touch operation is also possible, but not at the high level of the VW.
Another highlight is in the form of the cultivated inline six under the hood. Because it responds even better than the one in the GV80 and accelerates at the high level of the Touareg V6. The BMW is also satisfied with around 9.5 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers, only the Genesis (10.0 liters) is slightly higher.
The rear-axle steered X5 and the Touareg drive around the same speed, but the BMW delivers livelier handling. It feels more agile, transmits information to the steering just as diligently and reacts faster to steering inputs. In addition, there is a rear-heavy four-wheel drive design, which is aimed more at longer neutral than oversteering driving behavior. Occasionally, however, the M limited-slip differential pushes the rear axle outwards a little.
For the two of them, the overall assessment of driving behavior ends in a tie because the VW turns much more compactly.All other categories were won by the clear test winner, the BMW X5. Genesis presents the GV80 as a promising brand, even if it remains just behind the Touareg despite the lavish price and guarantee advantages. Because it loses points from 130 km/h mainly because of its mediocre braking performance.
With the most driving fun, the best motor and the simplest operation, the comfortable X5 wins the test despite its high price.
Huge display, excellent suspension comfort, good handling, but sometimes weak brakes. The starting weakness of the V6 power pack bothers.
Genesis combines the luxury flair and decent driving characteristics with a five-year guarantee at a much lower price than the German competition.