With the reveal of the 2021 GV80, Genesis is setting into motion its plan for North American luxury dominance. The Korean automaker is promising that old luxury is being put on notice with the debut of its new SUV and there’s a lot to talk about. Here’s what you need to know:
Where it sits in lineup
Currently, Genesis is a sedan-only automaker, a puzzling strategy for an automaker in 2020 where crossovers and SUVs reign supreme.
“Sedans … tell consumers what our brand DNA is,” said Richard Trevisan, Brand Director for Genesis Canada.
The GV80 is expected to double Genesis' audience by finally bringing an SUV, a body style that's extremely hot right now.
“The GV80 will the brand ambassador,” said Trevisan. This is a flagship SUV and comes with several world firsts to fulfill that mission and bring more buyers to the brand. Currently, pricing isn’t known but they are looking to share that information closer to launch later this year.
The flagship SUV boasts a few unique features that not yet seen in other vehicles. These include a centre side airbag, which is mounted on the console side of the driver’s seat. This is designed to help prevent injuries in a collision, caused by passengers hitting each other or interior panels.
Another world-first feature is the advancement of the forward collision avoidance assistance system. Many systems can prevent forward collisions with other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and even large animals, but the GV80 has a feature that will help prevent accidents at intersections with oncoming and perpendicular traffic. Imagine that you’re in a left-turning lane, but another vehicle is set up to do the same opposite from you, leaving you with limited visibility of oncoming traffic. The GV80s exterior sensors will be able to see beyond that vehicle, warning you of incoming traffic that you can’t see and allowing you to stay safe. The accident prevention also extends to perpendicular traffic, like if someone runs a stop sign or red light. The sensors can also tell if you and another vehicle are changing into the same lane and will warn you of an impending collision. Finally, the vehicle has an evasive steering assistance system to automatically steer the vehicle around an accident ahead.
Another impressive feature is that the smart cruise control will adapt to your driving style, meaning the mannerisms of the adaptive cruise control will mimic the driver.
From a distance, the GV80 is a bit conservative-looking with a conventional SUV design. However, a few details help it stand out. Despite the large size, (10 mm longer than a Mercedes GLE) it has fairly short overhangs.
The key areas to draw your eyes are the quad headlights, these lines flow through the body and critically into the fender garnishes that double as the turn signal lamps. The vehicle also sports the crest grille similar to the G90 and G70. You’ll see a crosshatched pattern in the grille and other areas that Genesis calls the G Matrix, an element that they say was inspired by light passing through gems.
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Finally, the wheels are hard to ignore, and that’s because they measure 22 inches, the largest in the segment.
Repeating design elements
Many of those key design elements repeat themselves inside and out of the vehicle. For example, the tailpipes are in the shape of the crest grille. The slim vents inside the vehicle recall the headlight shape. There are diamond patterns in the upholstery which reflect the G Matrix. This helps buyers see the exterior within the interior of the vehicle.
Attention to detail
Genesis suggests its attention to detail as well as its fit and finish is among the best in the industry. The design details are just one example, but the GV80 is a three-row vehicle (in certain trims) and that third row isn’t forgotten by the designers. It features laser-cut aluminum speaker grilles as well as damped storage covers that open elegantly. It’s a far cry from other third rows which are practically bare.
Genesis is also trying to make the second row as luxurious as the front. One of the more impressive ways it has done this is by allowing the second rows to recline an extra 22 degrees than usual, leaving passengers in a true lounger-like position. Combined with the large sunroof, the second row was nicknamed the Star Lounge by the designers. Of course, the usual amenities like heated seats, sunshades, and multiple HVAC zones are present here too.
Front seats and infotainment
The front seats have a few unique amenities as well. The cabin is delightfully minimalistic with controls and features only as needed. The 14.5-inch screen is large but doesn’t dominate the experience. The infotainment system – with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, of course – is controlled by a pad embedded into the console, which features a touch-sensitive surface for handwriting recognition and a rotary area for screen selection.
The available 18-speaker Lexicon-branded sound system boasts two subwoofers and an external amplifier for the ultimate mobile concert hall experience. One additional important element of the infotainment is the world’s first application of an active road-noise cancellation feature. This system uses real-time sensors outside the car – existing systems use sensors within the cabin – to pick up the exact road noise frequency, and will play the opposite noise within the cabin to reduce road noise.
The upholstery and design are top-notch with unique pairings of hues, like green and brown two-toned leather interiors. The attention to detail extends to the subwoofers under the front seats, which are also painted the same colour as the interior.
The driver’s seat features an Active Seat, which is like a massage seat without the hype. Depending on the drive mode or driver’s preferences, it will help the driver stretch parts of their body that typically get numb on long drives including the legs and back. The feature uses air bladders in the seat itself that inflate and retract.
The Genesis GV80 will come standard with all-wheel drive and offer two engines: a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.5-litre turbocharged six-cylinder. We’re not sure what the output of the two engines are yet, but it’s safe to say they’ll be competitive with the rivals’ motors, which typically have 300–400 horsepower.
The automaker opened up pre-orders for the GV80 on January 16 and the response has been resounding. Genesis won’t provide official numbers but noted that last year they did the same thing with the G70, and received about 200 pre-orders. They are describing the GV80’s pre-orders as “significantly outpacing” the G70’s.
Super Bowl and beyond
The automaker is also throwing some money around in the form of Super Bowl advertisements. This coming weekend, the Genesis GV80 will share the screen with Genesis brand ambassadors Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend in some humorous spots that make the statement “Old luxury is getting a wake-up call.”
For Canadians, Super Bowl ads are a mere curiosity, as most are only reserved for the US broadcasts of the game, but Genesis Canada has ensured its ads will run on Canadian broadcasts.
The automaker also tells us that the combination of GV80, Legend, and Tiegen will be seen again soon.