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PICKING UP THE SLACK: 2023 GENESIS G80 SPORT PRESITGE

When it came to the mid-size premium sedan, the Lexus GS 350 and Infiniti M37 were the iconic, understated performance sedans that stood up to the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class road warriors. But now that they have been discontinued and the smaller Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 are not quite cutting the cheese that is demanded from a premium brand. The Genesis G80 on the other hand has no problem picking up where those brands trailed off.

As someone who works in Architecture, there is a sight of beauty when it comes to the Genesis design elements. Very rarely do we see a car as a form of art and when we do, it is more-so expressed on the super/hyper car design level. The beauty is all in the details and Genesis certainly doesn’t hold back from its signature diamond cut chrome grille, body hugging LED split headlights and perfectly parallel indicators that surround the vehicle. And it is not just the exterior that generates presence but the interior as well with its industry marvel 3-D instrument cluster display, knurled crystal-like rotary gear shifter and touch sensitive rotating knurled infotainment controller.

The Genesis G80 starts things off right from the start being offered in a rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configuration with the choice of a 300-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a heart throbbing 375-horsepower, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6. Our example had our emotions skipping a beat with the latter engine option that manages to pull out a 0-60 mph in just over 5.0-seconds, setting the pace for the German rivals and their 3.0-liter turbo engines to keep up.

Despite Sport being written into the name of our examples Sport Prestige, the G80 isn’t exactly one we would contest as a sporty vehicle – not like the M Sport of BMW or AMG Line to Mercedes-Benz. There is no denying the sure-fire quickness of the G80; however, paired with its 8-speed automatic transmission, it is not nearly as refined as its German enterprisers. But let’s face that reality, it’s unlikely that we’ll be anywhere near a circuit track with a checker flag. But should one find themselves glaring down the don’t walk crosswalk count down sign, sport mode does the G80 plenty of justice amping up its throttle and transmission responsiveness.

Speaking of sport mode; around town the G80 feels like perhaps it was taken out of the oven too soon and the chassis is a little under baked. With its default Comfort mode engaged, the adaptive dampers cannot seem to keep up with the harsh pavement imperfections. Making sharp turns generates unwarranted body lean and the braking does not feel as firm as it should be. However, all of our gripes are resolved by simply engaging that aforementioned sport mode where the G80 starts to feel more welcoming of a premium product. Under sport mode, the suspension set up and adaptive dampers are more on par to providing an engaging experience manages to work out more of the road’s pavement issues.

Inside, the G80 is a marvelous place to be. It almost gives the sensation of what we would expect of Mercedes-Benz today, had they not gone down a rabbit hole of screens and minimalism. The nappa leather is urbane and soft to the touch, the wood finish is actual real wood, the metal trim is real metal, the roof is covered in suede the metal knobs are knurled for added dexterity. Every surface feels every bit of quality as you would find in a six-figure vehicle. There is no denying the seat comfortability from all four points and rear passengers get elevated comfort with a three-zone climate control system and heated rear seats.

Genesis is taking technology to a new level with their 3-D illuminated gauges, only available in the Prestige models. Through a unique, complicated process, the new Continentals autostereoscopic 12.3-inch digital display uses layers of pixels based on how each left and right eye can observe different depths.  The 14.5-inch infotainment screen suits the overall interior design without feeling like it is the center of attention – using a rotary knob with touch & swiping abilities, it does start to feel a cumbersome trying to navigate a large screen and having to sort through multiple menus. Ultimately something that is easily resolved by just using the voice command system.

The G80 is sourced with all sorts of the latest technology including wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Connectivity. But when it comes to safety features, Genesis is top notch in our opinion. It feels like it is one of the better systems on the market with one of the smoothest adaptive cruise control systems that utilizes Highway Driving Assist that always for smooth stop and go traffic, speed limit change adjustments, curve assist and lane following with lane change assist.

Starting at $49,500 for a 2.5-turbo rear-wheel drive G80 marks quite the bargain compared to the BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi’s all starting around $55,000. Our 3.5-turbo V-6 in its Sport Prestige and all-wheel drive only came in just short of $72,000, putting it on par to the German rivalry.

Now with Lexus and Infiniti out of the premium mid-size executive sedan picture, we are glad to see Genesis is here to pick up the slack and shake things up with a fun-to-drive, well-equipped, premium product that is sure to age well and make for suitable alternative over the Germans.  

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