In The Beginning…. The Genesis Brand Arrives In Europe
Genesis has now brought its range of Korean premium luxury cars to the UK and this week saw me travel south to grab one of the sought-after spaces on the UK Media Launch. Was it worth the trip? Well, after many months of lockdown restrictions, it was a delight to be back on the road and I was intrigued to see how Genesis intend to compete with the established premium brands.
The company was established some five years ago and is the luxury arm of Hyundai. It has to be said that the concept is not new. Most will be familiar with Lexus from Toyota, some less so with Infiniti, owned by Nissan and which abandoned the UK market last year, with little sign of any success.
At the press conference we learnt that Genesis intends to do things differently. How this will be done is by selling direct to the public both online and through Genesis Studios in coveted locations. For the time being, those in the southeast can visit the Westfield Shopping Centre. In the north, we will have to wait a little longer…
Perhaps this does not matter as key to the brand’s buying experience is the appointment of a personal assistant. These individuals come from a customer service background and do not work on commission as is usually the case in the motor industry.
Instead, looking after the customer is their sole priority and this begins by bringing a test car to the customer’s home or office at a time to suit.
Assuming they like what they see, the cars are sold at a fixed price, so no haggling required. That price will include a bespoke 5-year Care Plan. This includes a comprehensive warranty, all servicing, roadside assistance, mapping and software updates and a courtesy car the same as your own.
It aims to make the ownership experience as stress free as the purchase, with the only effort being a quick phone call to your Genesis PA, who will take care of everything else.
Last year, 130,000 cars were sold around the world, so clearly the concept has some appeal.
Of interest is the fact that Genesis has set no targets for UK sales, preferring instead to emphasise its seamless customer buying and ownership experience.
Clearly, they do want to sell cars and I was able to sample both their G80 saloon and GV80 luxury SUV. At present power is provided by either petrol or diesel engines, but before the year is out, we can expect an all-electric G80 as well as two other fully electric vehicles.
Starting with a clean sheet, allowed the Genesis designers a free hand and the to cars are quite striking. The GV80 in particular attracted plenty of attention during my two hours or so behind the wheel. Idle curiosity or genuine interest, hard to tell.
The trademark design is the double-lined quad lamps and bold crest grille, the latter seeming to be de rigueur at the moment.
Genesis GV80 – 3.D + AT8 AWD/5 Seater
Price £62,415 (£75,915 as tested)
Range from £56,815
278PS 3.0-litre diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 7.5 seconds
Combined economy 31.5-33.1mpg
The GV80 is a large car, imposing even. There’s ample space in its plush interior for five adults to spread out and there is the option to add an extra row of seats. Do so, and luggage space disappears and realistically only children will fit.
We were told that Genesis is a comfort orientated brand, one that eschews lap times for luxury. Extensive testing of its cars on European roads has been carried out. The GV80 also features a forward-facing camera which scans the road ahead in order to ready the suspension.
It was therefore quite disappointing to find the GV80’s low speed ride to be somewhat unsettled. Large alloy wheels and low-profile tyres may well be to blame, but I expected better.
At higher speeds things improve and motorway cruising is undoubtedly a refined and serene affair. The car has been fitted with a noise control system, designed to filter out unwanted sounds.
Some of our test route involved some fast and twisty B-roads and once again the GV80 was not at its best. Its considerable girth required a few breathe-in moments and pushed hard, there is more body roll than is desirable. Better to slow the pace, open the sunroof and listen to some gentle music.
Build quality is exemplary and the interior majors on comfort and luxury. The level of standard equipment is suitably high and there is a range of simple option packs for that bespoke touch. The sunroof is worth having, but I would leave the 20-inch alloy wheels box unticked.
The diesel engine is quiet and powerful, propelling what is a big and heavy car towards to the horizon with gusto. And driven thus, I was able to record a tad under 30mpg on the varied test route.
Genesis G80 – 2.5T + AT8 AWD
Price £47,950 (£59,520 as tested)
Range from £43,150
304PS 2.5-litre petrol engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph in 6.0 seconds
Combined economy 30.47 to 31.2mpg
The G80 is much more the driver’s car. The powerful petrol engine endows the car with meaningful performance, and it even sounds good. I would mention that the rather lovely sound comes via the speakers, but never mind.
The eight-speed gearbox shifts swiftly and cleanly and helps keep the engine in its power band.
On the same route as its big brother, the G80 made a much better fist of soaking up the worst bumps and lumps that littered the test route and it didn’t fall apart when asked to corner swiftly. Ultimately, one or two of the established competition probably offer more involvement behind the wheel, but the G80 is not a million miles away.
I recorded around 23mpg, a tad disappointing but then I am not renowned for having a gentle touch and time was short with a five-hour return drive in the evening rush hour to undertake.
Another luxury interior awaits and there is ample space front and back to spread. Once again, the quality of the fixtures and fittings will impress and boot space is reasonable. An estate variant is due soon and I would probably choose that configuration.
The long journey home gave me ample time to reflect on the day’s events. It feels like a brave time to be launching a new brand to the UK and European market.
I cannot fault the quality or integrity of the Genesis cars, but that comes as no surprise as the existing Hyundai cars excel in those areas too.
The luxury interiors are hard to fault too and can compete well with the competition.
Driving dynamics however seem to be a mixed bag. The G80 saloon shows some promise and offers a decent ride to boot.
The GV80 however lacks polish in the ride and handling department. I could forgive the ride quality if it handled well or vice versa.
I suspect some buyers may well be drawn to the concierge service and simple buying and ownership experience. It is a business model that undoubtedly will be copied as car sales increasingly move online.
This is but a taster of what Genesis has to offer and with a raft of new models due to hit the UK market later this year, I very much look forward to keeping you updated.
If your appetite has been whetted, more at www.genesisnewseurope.com