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Genesis GV80 First Drive - Motor Trend

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Motor Trend got their hands on one of the Korean-spec GV80's and gave us a first look at what it's like to drive.

One thing that stands out about the review is the praise for the interior.

Inside, the GV80 feels high-end and calming, with mood lighting and recorded sounds of nature available if you want to listen to waves, a crackling fireplace, boots crunching on snow, or other sounds. The geometric pattern from the giant crest grille continues in some of the trim and the stitching pattern on the leather seats and thoughtful center-tunnel knee cushions. The ash wood trim is exquisite, and the 14.5-inch touchscreen is sharp to view and accentuates the width of the vehicle.

The first two rows offer plenty of headroom, but like most midsize three-row SUVs, accommodations get a little cramped in the back row. The seats are very comfortable, front and back—and Genesis says they are the most advanced it's used to date. The Korean-spec models have pillows on the headrests in the second row that may not make it stateside. The driver's seat has seven air cells to distribute body pressure more evenly and reduce fatigue. Finally, the front seats are heated and cooled, and offer a lovely massage.

Previous three- and four-spoke steering wheels from Genesis's other models have been replaced here with a new two-spoke design with the brand's winged badge in the center; the few controls are tastefully tucked into the sides. It looks and functions simply and cleanly, and it's also easy on your grip. The GV80 comes with a lot of infotainment and driver-assist technology, and many of the systems will be standard, enough so that Genesis hopes to set itself up as the benchmark. Among them is an automated lane-change system with turn signal, as well as the usual array of collision-alert and -prevention systems. The head-up display shows vehicles approaching from behind in the adjacent lane.
As far as performance and driving experience goes, the model they drove had the 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6, not one of the 2 turbocharged gasoline engines that will come to the US.

Diesels are a favorite in Korea, and the powertrain will enable Genesis to expand into Europe as early as next year. Sadly, the diesel will not be available in the U.S. This was the engine in our test vehicle, however. On a short drive from Seoul to Incheon and back in the Korean-market diesel, there was ample torque at the ready, and acceleration was smooth and constant. The engine is incredibly quiet; you would never discern it is a diesel by sound, feel, or smell. The engine's character fits the vehicle like a glove, which isn't surprising given that the dedicated M3 platform for the GV80 and forthcoming next-generation G80 sedan was designed with this engine in mind.
The GV80 uses the regular, in-house eight-speed automatic transmission, tuned in our test GV80 to work with the diesel. We're told there are no plans to offer a dual-clutch automatic in any Genesis product. Shifting was seamless on a drive that was mostly highway with patches of stop-and-go traffic. The rotary gearshift dial is not only elegant, sporting a crystal center and a continuation of the G-matrix theme seen in the massive front grille's mesh, but the dial also feels amazing to the touch. You want to sit there and play with it. A smaller dial taps into the terrain control, while a circular touchpad for the infotainment system sits above the shifter

The GV80 will be offered with 20-, 21-, and massive 22-inch wheels, the last of which are a first for Genesis. They were, Genesis execs tell us, a challenge to tune for while ensuring the vehicle still rode well. As an engineer, 22 is the maximum you want, says Albert Biermann, head of research and development, but for Genesis, design has priority. "It was clear from the start we'd have these wheels. " Braking was smooth, with no untoward biting or other behavior. It was hard to gauge steering with so much straight-line driving, but it felt well centered and steadily tracked a line.

These first examples of the GV80 were tuned for Korea, a country riddled with speed bumps. The steel spring suspension—there are no plans for an air setup—will be tuned differently for North America. Biermann said it won't necessarily be stiffer, but it will offer a more spirited ride. For what it's worth, the vehicle we drove was not overly soft or floaty. But if Biermann, who has spent a lot of time with the vehicle on the Nürburgring, wants to dial in more body control, we're all for it.

The GV80 wasn't designed to tackle the Rubicon Trail, but it does have a terrain-management system with sand, mud, and snow settings for additional traction. We look forward to testing this capability. Trailer towing isn't a thing in Korea, but there will be an aftermarket (perhaps dealer-installed) solution for the U.S. and Australia
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