No one said building a luxury automotive brand from scratch is an easy feat. Especially when the marketplace is bustling with an assortment of remarkably distinguished marques from Lexus and Audi to Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz. However, the seemingly daunting challenge did not halt the ambitions of Korean executives from Genesis Motor America who are now the latest label to launch a short, but prestigious roster of vehicles with more to come down the pipeline.
The meteoric rise of Genesis began with the G80 luxury midsize sports sedan and the full-size G90 touring sedan which team Automotive Rhythms experienced last year in Canada. To continue the momentum of their newfangled product launches the automaker invited us to St. Helena, California to discover the attributes of the all-new 2018 Genesis G80 Sport. Centered around distinguished hinterlands featuring renowned vineyards and wineries, coastal drive breaks at places like Timber Cove and dinner in the cellar of Brasswood Winery, the vehicle’s lifestyle and targeted consumer profiles were a perfect symbiotic match.
“We are especially excited about adding the new Sport trim to the enhanced 2018 G80 model line,” said Erwin Raphael, general manager of Genesis in the U.S. “The multiple engineering and design enhancements in only its second year make a powerful statement about how the Genesis brand is on a never-ending mission to provide our customers with the best automobile possible, while achieving improved performance capability and competitiveness within the midsize luxury sedan segment.”
From the extended driveway of the immaculate Las Alcobas Hotel my partner I picked out a Caspian Black RWD (MSRP of $55,250) G80 Sport for the morning drive segment and a Polar Ice H-TRAC All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle (MSRP of $57,750) for the return afternoon segment. It certainly isn’t the new BMW 5 Series but does offer a great amount of power, handling, comfort and advanced safety technology. Genesis distinguishes the G80 Sport from the G80 with dark chrome 19”split spoke wheels, Genesis-branded 4-piston front brake calipers, a unique cross-hatched dark chrome grille, sportier bumpers, oval shaped dark chrome exhaust tips (quad) and Copper accents within the LED headlights, grille and rims. You will also find the Copper hued theme in the form of contrast stitching and the center clock background.
The G80 Sport looks sharp and respectfully drives sharp as well. My only critique is that the Rack-Mounted Electric Power Steering could have been tuned for more aggressive handling. Wide open Napa Valley roads were ideal for acceleration from the new and exclusive 3.3-liter Twin Turbo V6 which produces 365-horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. Speed accrual is not electrifying per se, but it does produce enough juice to satisfy the soul. Paired with a sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission with Intelligent Drive Mode Select (Normal, Eco, Snow, Sport) and Downshift Rev-matching, as well as an electronically-controlled Sport Adaptive Suspension I had just enough fun to work up heavy appetites for lunch and dinner. Of course I kept the transmission in “Sport” for the most opportunistic drive experience. Expect 20 combined mpg for both the RWD and AWD models.
Step inside the G80 Sport and witness a Korean landscape ripe with character and strong design definition. The multifunction steering wheel is thick and aggressive, the alloy pedals are sport inspired, the bolstered seats are firm to hold you in place and the interior trim is highlighted by gorgeous carbon fiber panels. Head-up Display keeps track of the G80 Sport’s activities and the 17-speaker Lexicon Quantum Logic Surround Sound is on par with the expectations of premium auto buyers. Its Clari-Fi music restoration technology cures the deterioration of compressed, digital files by improving the quality to its original recording sound. In addition, Apple CarPlay took over my iPhone’s features such as reading out text messages and allowing me to verbally reply while I stayed focused on the road. Also there is wireless device charging for QI based phones. Furthermore, the brains of the cockpit is the AVN 2.0 Navigation system with the 9.2” Touchscreen High-definition Display that houses your Apps, Driving Info, Vehicle Diagnostics, Send to Car with Google and Blue Link Settings. Never again will long rides become mundane and lifeless.
Aside from the G80 Sport’s good looks and traits it also presents an abundance of safety technologies to keep the cabin crew as safe and sound as possible. Genesis instilled the vehicle with standard Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Attention Alert, High Beam Assist and Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start.
As well, the Genesis Experience blesses owners with complimentary services such as valet whereas the dealer picks up your vehicle so you never have to set foot in the service bay for maintenance. This program also includes three years of free Genesis Connected Services which offers a better peace of mind by finding your vehicle, remotely unlocking your doors, recovering your vehicle if stolen and searches destinations using Google. As you see, Genesis ascertains that your 2018 G80 Sport will continue to provide seminal moments.