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[Behind the Wheel] Genesis poised to take on EV world with G80

Genesis’ first EV variant based on premium sedan G80 launches at the price of 82.8 million won

Genesis Electrified G80 runs on a public road during a test drive event on Wednesday. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Genesis, the luxury brand of South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor, has debuted its first pure-electric car, aiming to take on the emerging electric vehicle mart with high-end models.

With the Electrified G80, unveiled in South Korean on Wednesday, Hyundai Motor has aimed to prove that it can offer the gentle yet powerful ride of a premium sedan with electricity.

On its launch day, The Korea Herald took the much-anticipated car for a test drive of about 60 kilometers, from Starfield Hanam in Gyeonggi Province and through Gapyeong in Gangwon Province.

As its name shows, the vehicle is based on the original G80, which is the brand’s flagship premium sedan. Still, the automaker has adopted some items and designs especially for the new EV.

The turbine-shaped 19-inch wheels unique to the electrified G80 were quite attractive, even more so than the wheels for the original G80. A new color option, Matira Blue, has also been added for the EV model, that was inspired by nature and blends metallic green and blue to give the car a unique aura.

What came as a disappointment was the plastic front grille.

The electric variant of G80 has the same shield-shaped front grille as the G80, with the G-Matrix pattern, but it is made of plastic, not steel, as seen in the gasoline-powered variant.

Because the battery powertrain does not need air cooling from the front, the grille is closed for the Electrified G80.

Maybe, the automaker didn’t want to make the car any heavier with a steel grille, as it already has two weighty batteries in the front and rear. But the plastic grille could be a turn-off for those expecting a luxurious look from a Genesis car.

The charging port is on the right side of the front grille, and the cover props open, but it is not automatic, so the driver has to pull it to fully uncover the port. 

Inside Genesis Electrified G80 (Hyundai Motor Group)

For passengers, the headroom and legroom was spacious enough. But the trunk space was smaller than what’s typically seen in a large sedan, due to the battery pack installed to power the rear wheels.

The 14.5-inch touch screen display and the digital dashboard made the car look very up-to-date, and the optional head up display was helpful in showing the navigation.

For the charging port, Electrified G80 has multiple inputs of 400V and 800V, making the car compatible with standard, rapid and super rapid chargers. Using a rapid charger, the battery charges from 10 percent to 80 percent in 22 minutes. The vehicle-to-load function is also implemented to allows external device charging.

On the road, the Matira Blue Electrified G80 grabbed the eyes of some passersby, most likely for its unique color.

The brand must have taken extra care to block out the wind sound and outside noises and reduce vibration caused from rough road surfaces, even when compared to other EVs.

The automaker said it has applied Active Noise Control-Road, which analyzes outside noises to send out countering sound waves to make the ride quiet for passengers inside. The electronically controlled suspension with road preview also offered the gentle driving experience.

Another highlight of the car was the soft, but fast acceleration and braking.

The vehicle picked up speed very quickly, but without noticeable loading, and it was satisfactory to drive on the highway. The steering wheel, on the other hand, felt rather heavy. Still it responded well turning corners.

Packed with an 87.2 kilowatt-hour battery, the vehicle has a maximum driving mileage of 427 km, verified by the Industry Ministry, Hyundai Motor said. Offered as an all-wheel drive vehicle, the car facilitates up to 370 horsepower and can accelerate from zero to 100 kilometer per hour in 4.9 seconds.

This output is actually better than the lowest trim G80 with 2.5 gasoline turbo engine, which can exert up to 304 horsepower and a maximum torque of 43 kilogram-meter.

The electrified G80’s regenerative braking system was not bad. When turned on with the paddle shift mounted on the steering wheel, the EV would automatically decelerate when the foot came off the acceleration pedal. The intensity of the deceleration can be adjusted using the paddle shift.

The test-driven G80 EV was charged enough to run 275 km when departing from Hanam Starfield. Ending the roundtrip of 60 km, the battery fell to 208 km in driving mileage.

The car is also equipped with major driving assistance systems, such as the lane keeping assist, and reverse parking collision-avoidance assist, along with intelligent lighting to avoid blinding oncoming traffic and rear guide lamps.

Genesis offers a unique option for its first EV, a solar roof. The test driven model had the solar roof on the roofline, acquiring extra power from the sun as it ran on the road.

Its practicality, however, is in question as the solar roof costs extra 1.4 million won, but generates 730 watt-hours of electricity per day. Converting that to an annual measurement, the automaker said the car can drive 1,150 km on solar power.

The price for the Electrified G80 starts from 82.8 million won ($72,230), below the threshold of 90 million won to make the car eligible for government subsidy given to eco-friendly vehicle purchasers.

By Jo He-rim (