First impressions count, and new kid on the car-block Genesis makes an impression with its GV80 sports utility vehicle, which I’ve been test driving on UK roads this week.
Catch a fleeting glance and you might even mistake it for a Bentley Bentayga SUV, costing up to three times as much.
Purely coincidental, I’m sure, that the Genesis chief designer is Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, who was previously design director at Bentley. Set up five years ago, Genesis is the luxury vehicle division of the South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai and Kia brands.
Order books open officially from July 1, with first deliveries later that month. Available as a five and seven-seater configuration, the GV80 line-up starts at £56,715 for the Premium Line.
Double-take: The new Genesis GV80 could be mistaken for a Bentley Bentayga
I drove a seven-seater version of the Luxury Line priced from £62,315, but loaded with £15,000 of added extra kit including innovation packs and Nappa leather seats that raised it to a cool £77,485. Still, that’s around half the price of a Bentley Bentayga (from about £150,000).
Visually, you can’t miss the GV80’s bold crest grille, winged badge, solid stance and double-lined LED quad lamps.
The interior is impressive, too. Sophisticated with a large dashboard infotainment touch-screen, 12-inch head-up display, cossetting seats and a premium feel.
Riding on 22in wheels (20in as standard), the willing turbocharged 3.0-litre, 278hp, straight six-cylinder diesel engine linked to an eight- speed automatic gearbox provides spirited acceleration, particularly in Sport mode.
It achieves rest to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds up to a top speed of 143 mph. Also on offer is a turbocharged, 304hp, 2.5 -litre 4-cylinder petrol engine.
For long trips, it’s a smooth cruiser in Comfort mode, and you can choose Eco if you are prioritising fuel conservation.
I even did a bit of unplanned and impromptu grass and gravel off-roading in ‘Terrain’ mode – courtesy of a sat-nav short-cut – and its all-wheel drive coped fine.
You navigate your way around the drive modes via a circular dial. There’s another just above it to find your way around the infotainment system.
It’s practical with flexible folding seats, and buttons which allow you to do it from the rear boot when loading.
Tech features include remote smart parking assist (which lets you control the car out of tight spots while you stand and watch), augmented reality sat-nav, a 3D instrument cluster and head up display, a clever blind-spot monitor that gives a video feed on the dashboard of what’s behind, and a system to detect potholes and speedbumps ahead and tweak the suspension ahead of time to to cope.
Both the GV80 and G80 saloon (on the road from £37,460) – which I also drove and which shares many of the same attributes apart from the specialist SUV elements – have been specially tuned for UK and continental roads, with tens of thousands of miles covered across 15 countries on some of the toughest and most challenging roads, as well as on the Nürburgring circuit.
More models- including electric – will follow soon.
The GV80 is also the car in which golfer Tiger Woods had a recent spectacular and well-publicised prang in the US – so good job it has a top five-star safety rating.
With its first ‘studio’ showroom in West London’s Westfield Shopping Centre now open, order books open officially from July 1, with first deliveries later that month.
Genesis promises a ‘no pressure, no stress’ sales approach, a largely female staff of ‘personal assistants’ with travel industry service and luxury goods experience, a ‘we come to you’ sales policy and five-year care plan with home or office delivery and collection, transparent pricing, no haggling or discounting, that ‘removes the need to visit a dealer ever again’.
Engines for the G80 saloon in the UK are the 2.5 litre 4-cylinder 304 horse-power single turbo petrol and a frugal 2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel.
A 3.5 litre 375hp V6 petrol engine – offered in some markets – is not planned for the UK market for either model.
Also coming down the line is G70 shooting-brake designed specifically for Europe and expected later this year.
Three electric cars will also arrive within the first year. The first will be an electric version of the G80 which had its world premiere at the Auto Shanghai with prices estimated at around £60,000.
A further two battery electric cars – one built on a dedicated electric platform – will also be launched within the first year in Europe as part of the product roll-out.
Imitation?: The real deal Bentley Bentayga is a league beyond the new Genesis GV80 in terms of luxurious quality and performance
So is this a Korean copycat ‘Bootleg Bentley’?
To be fair, the real deal Bentley Bentayga is a league beyond the new Genesis GV80 in terms of luxurious quality and performance.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Bentley chaps in Crewe should feel flattered by the Genesis GV80’s impressive homage to their skills.
‘Rusty’ driving ability concerns 75% of motorists
Three-quarters of motorists are nervous about other people’s ‘rusty’ driving ability after many stopped driving during lockdown, says a poll by comparethemarket.com.
More than a third (36 per cent) are even nervous about their own ability after a long period of absence behind the wheel.
Driven to distraction: More than a third of drivers are nervous about their own ability after a long period of absence behind the wheel
Younger motorists are the most worried about returning to driving, with more than eight in ten (84 per cent) of those under 25 concerned about other drivers and more than half (55 per cent) nervous about their own driving ability.
Londoner Grace Gausden, who’d not driven for five years since passing her test, took a two-hour refresher course offered by NFU Mutual with specialists Drive Doctors.
RED, AA and BSM also offer courses.
Encouraging news for women in motor industry
The motor industry needs more women in senior roles, but here’s some encouraging news: Alison Jones, UK manager and a global senior vice-president for new mega group Stellantis, has just been recognised as an Outstanding UK Leader in Autocar’s annual awards.
‘Decisive leadership’: Alison Jones is the UK manager and a global senior vice-president for new mega group Stellantis
She took up the role in March, overseeing the operation of brands such as DS, Peugeot, Citroen, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep.
The magazine praised her ‘decisive leadership…through the challenges of Brexit, Covid and the merger with FCA to form Stellantis’.
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.