Genesis: is this a Mercedes-Benz E-Class rival?

You have bought a Genesis, a car so new and rarely seen that Fred and Fiona Average will not have any idea what it is. Just 1,000 were registered in the country last year by the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders.
Genesis is a new marque making a name for itself among posh rivalsGenesis is a new marque making a name for itself among posh rivals
Genesis is a new marque making a name for itself among posh rivals

Harry and Lizzy Gas-Tank, however, will know all about it, both belonging to the cadre of enthusiasts who grew up, and grew wiser, reading car magazines, watching Top Gear and websites. They know everything.

Genesis is a posh offspring from the South Korean car making industrial giant Hyundai. It is just getting started in the UK on a crawl, then walk philosophy. Last year was its first full year here. If you want to see a new Genesis you’ll have to try harder than cruising the nearest parade of city dealers.

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They come to you. It is a VIP demo, delivery and five-year free servicing operation. It can’t be cheap, but that’s not our concern unless we are business analysts, Brands which got burnt when they tried to spawn an expensive sideline include Mazda with Xedos and Nissan with Infiniti. Citroën is at last making sales headway in the UK with DS. Toyota’s Lexus inspired the others.

Genesis “is a design-focused luxury brand that embodies the philosophy of athletic elegance.” It makes SUVs and saloons, with rear-wheel-drive or 4x4 drive. It uses powerful piston engines or electric motors.

Tried here is the Sport version of the G80, its flagship in the UK. The 2.5 litre petrol turbo engine makes 300 horse power and 311 lb ft of torque. It sends it to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic gearbox. All very nice too until I gave it a blip leaving a roundabout and the tail jerked sideways. Maybe there was diesel spilled, so I tried it later on, with the same result. I can live with that once I know. However, there is an all-wheel-drive version which is better on slippery surfaces. The tyres were Michelin Pilot Sport, a fat 275/35 at the back on 20-inch alloys.

The interior was expensively and handsomely furnished with perforated claret Nappa leather and silvered fastenings and controls. The information screen more than a foot wide dominates. There is a lower touch screen showing the ventilation vectors which you can engage, very clever. Gears are selected using a rotary dial. A flush round command wheel accepts touch control. Rear passengers have a matching commander in the centre armrest. A drawer pops out to present a pair of drinks holders. Tablet screens hang off the backs of the facing seats. It is an enriching and enticing experience. The cabin planners have had a serious go at emulating not an Audi or a BMW but a Mercedes-Benz or a Bentley or Jaguar. You can bet that the Genesis guys have been all over the opposition, measuring and assessing and valuing. They have costed it well.

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If you own a Genesis you’re sure to be told that the front looks like a Bentley and the winged badge also reminds us of the feathered signature of a Bentley or Aston Martin or Morgan. The grille is indeed Bentley in its breadth. The rest of the exterior is more restrained, as if someone said right, let’s calm things down. This G80 is a large limousine with slim driving lights emphasising the gape of the grille. The horizontal lights at the back may remind you of Porsche or Jaguar. The plumber, happy owner of a second-hand Audi A6, was not smitten. “Why would you…" , etc.

I went south then west and then north on a set of motorways and skirting big cities. I was looking for economy, to suit my new year’s parsimony and reduce the impact on the air when passing cities. The result was 43 miles a gallon, seemingly whether I cruised at 60mph or 70mph. The lower speed was more restful, clear of the thrust and thrum of the outer lanes, mandatory passing between Sheffield and Rotherham on the Mi. The return dropped below 40mpg, beaten by some congestion, some rural roads, and stop-start stuff. On a 30-mile, mostly urban drive it was 25mpg. The official combined ratings are 31 to 37 mpg.

The ride is firm. The navigation missed junctions at times, while at others giving superfluous directions. The seat started massaging me. They do this after an hour to alleviate posture fatigue. All Genesis bar the G70 have this but it can be switched off. The semi-autonomous driving mode can be helpful and the side impact warning system is impressive. It alerts you to adjacent cars and warns of traffic coming past when you open a door. Features include road-reading which primes the suspension: a pothole spotter would be good. The nearside front wheel was damaged by one. The turn indicators bring up a camera view to the side and rear. It could save a cyclist’s life.

Verdict: Memorable.

Genesis G80 Sport

It is: Large saloon with eight speed automatic gearbox. Made in South Korea. Rear or all wheel drive.

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Economy: Officially, from 31mpg. We got 25mpg in suburbia, high 30s overall, a best of 43mpg. Also offered as the GV80 SUV from £59,920.

Performance: 0-62mph six seconds; maximum 155mph.

Power: 2.5 litre four cylinder petrol turbo delivers 300bhp and 311 lb ft torque. Also available as 365bhp full electric.

Length: 197 inches, 5m.

Price: Car tested from £49,450 RWD, or £51,825 AWD. G80 range from £42,650. Electric £69,805.

Warranty: five years, unlimited mileage.

More: and 0800 804 8115 for national inquiries. A showroom in Edinburgh is planned this summer, the only one outside London. Check for regional test drive events.

Or: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, from £50,000 looks so tempting.

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