Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Graham Read
Formula 1 Correspondent
12:00 AM 18th May 2024

A Road Trip To Germany’s Mosel Valley

My life for the last 26 years has been centred around motorsport reporting, but since 2006 I’ve also been a regular car reviewer. A recent opportunity for a short road trip testing a Genesis G80 down to the Mosel valley in mid-Germany and back, fitted in after the Miami Grand Prix and before this weekend’s round at Imola in northern Italy, was gratefully accepted, and what a joy it proved to be, with even the sun making a major daily appearance.

The G80 above the Mosel river, with Trittenheim in the background
The G80 above the Mosel river, with Trittenheim in the background
Genesis is the luxury arm of South Korea’s well-known Hyundai vehicle manufacturer, and its impressive cars first established a strong presence in the large US market before arriving more recently here in the UK as serious challengers to the long-established German premium brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. We’re all well aware of the ever-growing number of hybrid and all-electric cars on our roads, but, with 2035 still many years away, there very much still remains a market for internal combustion engine-powered vehicles too, and so my trusty steed for this short European adventure was a purely petrol-propelled G80.

Its 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine was married to a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, and the 308PS available via your right foot ensured that, despite the car’s size, the pace could be suitably brisk when desired. The gearing also meant that decent economy was available on relaxed cruising runs, with 42mpg easily achievable. The electronically limited top speed of 155mph is purely academic on most public roads around the world, although a key exception is Germany, where many stretches of its Autobahn equivalent of our motorway network have no speed limit at all and, if so inclined, the legs of your car can be stretched perfectly legally as long as the traffic and weather conditions are suitable.

SUVs of all sizes and engine types continue to be so popular, but there’s still a place in the market for the G80 as a luxury four-door saloon. Its capabilities mean that it is a true rival to the likes of BMW’s 5 Series, which has long set the benchmark in this class. What’s more, it is more competitively priced, and its impressive safety-related specifications, together with the sheer quality of its interior, are real strengths. The car has earned a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and its sweeping exterior suggests understated elegance, with the curvaceous roofline adding a hint of coupé styling to what is offered.

The G80’s stylish interior amidst the vineyards
The G80’s stylish interior amidst the vineyards
It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position in the electrically adjustable seats, a factor that is especially important when undertaking longer journeys, and the interior is dominated by a 14.5-inch centrally located multi-function touchscreen. Located high up on the dashboard, you can easily check the display without diverting your gaze from the road ahead. You can adjust the display by tapping it or using a circular controller located between the front seats. As you would expect, the standard equipment list is very comprehensive and includes attractive 19-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, keyless entry, a quality sound system, and adaptive cruise control.

I’ll return to what the G80 is like to drive shortly, but, firstly, let’s return to the road trip itself. For travellers based in the northern half of the UK looking to head off on a European adventure by car, it’s often seen as a time-consuming negative to have to drive down to the south coast to cross the Channel either by ferry or through the Tunnel and then face a similar return journey when back on home soil. However, there is an excellent alternative offered by P&O Ferries courtesy of its daily overnight crossings between Hull and Rotterdam, with its two ships operating on this 204 nautical mile/378km route, each having a capacity for up to 1,360 passengers and 250 cars plus plenty of freight traffic.

A short drive over to Hull feels so much more relaxing than heading down to London and beyond, and, with every passenger onboard having ensuite cabin accommodation as well as various dining, shopping, and evening entertainment options, it’s easy to be fed and watered before retiring for the night. Of course, the sea conditions are a variable that the ferry company cannot control, but at least the ships are large and well stabilised should things get a little rough. After a 12-hour crossing from Hull, you arrive at P&O’s own ferry terminal on the western outskirts of Rotterdam, ready to disembark and start your onward journey.

The G80 waiting in Hull to board the P&O ferry to Rotterdam
The G80 waiting in Hull to board the P&O ferry to Rotterdam
This meant skirting around the bottom edge of the vast city and its extensive dock area before heading south-east through the Netherlands, and the sheer ongoing flatness of the mainly rural landscape made me realise why I was overtaking so many Dutch motorhomers and caravanners, bound similarly for the hills, if not mountains, of nearby mid-Germany. After crossing into Belgium, my mind soon drifted back to so many visits over the years to the iconic Spa Francorchamps racing circuit in the Ardennes, the longtime home of the Belgian Grand Prix, which we passed on our right and with the signs already in place for this year’s F1 race there in late July.

Soon after, we entered Germany and some very familiar stretches of unrestricted Autobahn lay ahead where the G80’s legs could be safely and legally stretched well into three-figure mph speeds. Soon after, we neared the winding Mosel river with its picturesque small communities surrounded by endless vineyards. The village of Trittenheim is a perfect example of the Mosel at its best and is far less busy than nearby Bernkastel-Kues. Also, unlike the mid-Rhein, there are no loud trains thundering up and down the river banks along much of the Mosel, with the barges slowly gliding by and instilling a feeling of calm. It’s a setting which so encourages slow speed meandering in such a scenic environment compared to the high sprint down to Germany. In May, the grapes on the tens of thousands of local vines were almost nonexistent, but by September, they will be fully formed and ready for harvesting.

The Trittenheim vineyards will look like this come September
The Trittenheim vineyards will look like this come September
This leads me perfectly into answering what the G80 is like to drive in a whole variety of road conditions, from slow urban routes to cross-country journeys and the aforementioned high-speed autobahns, and the answer is a positive one. The version I tested had rear-wheel-drive rather than the all-wheel-drive alternative also available, but in normal driving conditions, you would be unable to tell the difference. Only on really wet, snowy, frosty, or muddy surfaces would AWD provide a real benefit. The G80 is easy to drive around town, belying its size, and, despite not being a car with seriously sporty aspirations, it also performs well on sweeping A and B roads. However, its biggest strength is its ability to waft the driver and any passengers along on high-speed journeys, whilst feeling truly cosseted in the luxury interior.

In conclusion, Germany’s Mosel Valley is such a wonderful area to visit within easy driving distance of the UK, but it is sadly often overlooked by so many British tourists who prefer to head to France instead. On the car front, the Genesis G80 is a well-designed and constructed premium-class saloon with a high specification and competitive price tag and, as such, is very much a deserved rival to its longer-established and more commonly seen, mainly European rivals.

Price: £48,870
Engine size: 2.5 litres
Fuel: unleaded
Power: 308PS
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Official mpg: 33.9
CO2 emissions: 189g/km