|Genesis G80 2.5T auto|
|The story: New (to the UK) brand Genesis, from the Hyundai, is aiming to take on established premium brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Volvo in the executive sector with the G80 saloon.|
|Key rival:||Volvo S90|
Launching a new car brand without either a plug-in-hybrid or full EV means company car drivers will only form a tiny part of the mix for Genesis.
Factor in Genesis’s ban on discounts to lease companies – so that pricing for fleet and retail will be identical – and the case for choosing a Genesis as a company car diminishes further.
However, there may be a few drivers who take the cash and want something different from the established rivals.
The G80 is certainly different, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.
Styling will split opinion, but it’s certainly noticeable – particularly thanks to the huge, brash, front grille. Head further along the car and the lines become more classic and less challenging.
Get seated inside and two things are immediately apparent. Firstly, even on its lowest setting the driver’s seat is set so high that anyone over six-feet tall will worry about headroom. Odd in any class of car these days, let alone an executive motor.
The second point is a positive. The cabin is incredibly well-built and uses some high-quality materials. The control screens both for the driver and the larger central screen are clear and of high resolution. However, the software running Apple Carplay needs to be tweaked so that controls are on the right not the far left. Genesis says this may happen by the time the cars go on sale this summer. There’s also a control wheel near the gearlever to select what’s on the screen. It looks classy, but because it sits flush with the panel it’s trickier to operate that those in rival cars.
We drove the all-wheel drive 304hp 2.5-litre petrol version, but there will also be a 210hp rear-drive 2.2-litre diesel. Engine refinement is excellent with little noise entering the cabin except an odd piped-in engine noise under hard acceleration.
With many rivals aiming for a precise, sportier driving character, Genesis has set up the G80 for a softer, more comfortable ride. And on smoother surfaces such as on motorway journeys it’s got it spot on. However, around town on typically non-smooth UK roads the soft ride is interrupted by harder jolts – possibly a result of the optional 20-inch wheels and lower profile tyres.
The softer suspension coupled to minimal steering feedback also means that more spirited driving on A- and B-roads is not the G80’s core skill either.
The G80 wins back points for rear leg room, so you’d think that perhaps it would pick up sales with the chauffeur and private hire markets – especially given the five-year warranty and first 50,000 miles servicing included in the price. However, the counter to that is the boot space which at 424 litres is smaller than all its main rivals.
If you really want something different that’s also good for comfy motorway work, the diesel may be worth a look. However, a Mercedes E-class or Volvo S90 would be just as good for motorway work and better in most others.