Genesis GV80

Genesis lr
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By Tim Saunders

A unique car that arouses curiosity and introduces you to new people.

Traditionally those seeking the wow factor of owning a vehicle that few others do, had to spend a small fortune on the likes of a Bentley, an Aston or similar.

There is a new contender that is causing a real stir at a fraction of the price. Enter the Genesis. Hyundai’s luxury division. They’ve taken the lead from Toyota’s Lexus range but added something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

We sit in a car park at Battle and watch as passers-by of all ages stop and inspect the Genesis, digesting the emblem and the enormous chrome effect grille. One gentleman scratches his head as he appreciates the GV80. Men and women, boys and girls all take a shine to it. The youngsters particularly so, taking photos on their phones. While eating fish and chips inside it at another car park in New Milton, this time with grandma accompanying us, a man cannot take his eyes off it. He walks up to me and we have a natter through the window. “What is it then?” he enquires.

At the bottle bank a fellow recycler again asks: “What is it then? An Aston?”

Not one of the 200 cars I have driven has ever created so much interest. This is the car to get if you want to become more popular and widen your social circle. Hats off to Hyundai because this car has something that all others do not. It’s like hanging around with the most popular kid in school. That charisma, charm. And the Genesis has it in spades.

Driving the GV80 is a pleasant experience, too. The driver’s seat seems to hug you the faster you go and then releases its embrace as you slow down. The seatbelts seem to tighten and loosen in a similar way to the Bentley Flying Spur, too. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is responsive and it will hurtle from standstill to 60mph in just over seven seconds, which for a vehicle of this size and weight is quite an achievement. The children seem comfortable enough and Henry (6) likes to sit in the third row of seats where there is a good amount of legroom.

Sit in the driver’s seat and start the ignition and there’s a welcome theme tune similar to that of some washing machines when they finish their cycle. The interior is well put together but very black. It would be nice to see some real wood. The dial to operate the gearbox in the Genesis feels cheap when compared to the ones in a Jaguar or Land Rover – both competitors to this vehicle.

When I open the power boot to put the third row of seats up and to clean the boot the lid comes back down without any warning and nearly knocks my block off. This makes me particularly wary when my children are anywhere near.

“It’s packed with technology,” says David, the enthusiastic delivery driver, who has just retired from JLR after more than 30 years. “Do you know you can even press a button on the keyfob and drive the vehicle remotely?” He pushes the buttons but they refuse to work. “There’s a video that shows it in action,” he adds. I try throughout the test but cannot get it to work either. Annoying. Apparently it’s ideal for extricating it from tight spots where the driver can’t open the door. Is there really such a need for this? When would a driver park in such a stupid fashion? Another piece of flash technology to wow the other senseless accountants and solicitors in the car park at lunch time, I suspect!

It takes time for me to familiarise myself with the Genesis. Naturally everything is electrically operated, making light work of adjusting the driver’s seat. There’s a heated steering wheel, all round heated seats and air conditioning that Henry enjoys operating. “Can you remove the blind?” asks Heidi (9) as I set off. Her blind goes down by pushing the switch for her electric window. Push it down once and the blind descends, push it down twice and the window goes down. Neat. Another interesting feature is that when an indicator is engaged a camera view of that side of the vehicle is displayed on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel. Fancy. But is it actually necessary? It’s the same view I get by simply looking in a wing mirror. Yes, it’s clever but increasingly I find that technology is taking over and I fear that this is actually creating a generation of morons.

There’s a head up display for the driver displaying speed on the windscreen. The cruise control is pretty easy to operate. It will go fast, if required. The 8-speed automatic with shift-by-wire and paddle shifters isn’t too demanding for the driver.

Externally, it’s a striking vehicle. “It’s a Bentley,” insists my son Henry. “Look it’s got the same logo.”

“Or Aston Martin,” I add. Then the in-yer-face Range Rover-like grille is another copy. Good idea. We know who Hyundai has their sights set on. Perhaps those financial sector types watching their stocks rising and falling, might be tempted to trade in their year old Aston or Bentley SUVs and replace them with this. There’s a smattering of something pretending to be chrome, I suspect. Finished in tasteful British Racing Green it does cut a striking presence, demanding a second glance. The interestingly designed alloy wheels look good, too.

As usual the power boot can be operated from inside the vehicle. When outside the button can be found near the rear wiper.

From a family perspective, a wealthy family admittedly with the £56,000 plus price tag, this luxury 25mpg vehicle is appealing because of the third row of seats, which is so easy to operate. And once the children have quietened down, it does deliver peace and tranquillity for a time. The troublesome trio savouring the experience. But as I write, Putin is trying to carve out more of the world for himself, sending oil prices sky high.

We visit Southwick and go into St James’ Church where the Bible is open on Genesis and Heidi (9) questions: “Is that where the name for the car came from?” Hyundai would certainly welcome a religious following.

Or was Phil Collins more the inspiration?

Facts at a glance

Genesis GV80 SUV
Priced from: £56,715
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol, 4 cylinder, 16 valve
Power: 300bhp
Economy: 25mpg approx
0 to 60mph: 7.1secs
Top speed: 147mph

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