Engine3.5L Twin-Turbo V6
Power375 HP / 391 LB-FT
Seating2 + 3
As Tested Price$72,595
At this point, we know what to expect when Hyundai applies an N badge to its cars. The resulting vehicles are serious performance machines with tremendous appeal to enthusiasts. Over at corporate sibling Genesis, however, the label of “Sport” has brought with it a relatively inconsistent experience. This confusion remains with the 2022 Genesis G80 Sport.
Part of the problem is that there are two versions: the Sport and Sport Prestige. Both add the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 as standard equipment, an engine that has been discontinued as an option on other G80s for 2022. Those are now fitted only with the 2.5-liter turbo inline-four.
Beyond that, the two Sports share a number of appearance changes to further differentiate them from the standard models. These include a unique dark chrome grille, new front and rear bumper designs, black bezels around the lights and dark chrome throughout where you’d find brightwork on regular G80s. The standard Sport gets special 19-inch wheels, but the Sport Prestige gets its own 20-inch wheel design that can be paired with optional summer tires.
That's all she wrote for the base Sport, however, making it effectively an appearance package paired with the V6 engine. If all you care for are those looks and the extra power — and by golly, does it look good — refer to our standard G80 review, because that’s how the standard G80 Sport will drive. For a more comprehensive, fully realized performance model, you have to put up an extra $6,300 for the Sport Prestige. That's the version we're driving here.
Despite a name that implies extra leather or general fanciness, the Prestige is in fact the version that adds high-performance features beyond the bigger engine. You get a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, high-performance brakes, rear-wheel steering and that ability to option summer performance tires. In other words, this is the real Sport.
That said, to set expectations, don’t come into this hoping for a Mercedes-AMG, BMW M or Audi Sport competitor. Despite the upgrades, the G80 Sport Prestige is still not aiming at that level of performance. The slinky sedan’s powertrain produces 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque and routes it through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed is the same as before, but new tuning for a unique “Sport+” drive mode makes the G80 a far more aggressive shifting partner on curvy roads.
There’s no sport exhaust that lets you hear the boosted V6 any better than before, but you can adjust the simulated engine noise to your liking. It gets decently loud in the cabin, but never sounds particularly good. This engine is deserving of some reins loosening, though, as it’s a potent powerplant. Launch control can be activated with stability control off, and with it, this G80 Sport Prestige smoothly scampers from 0 to 60 mph in what feels like just over 5 seconds. We estimate, because Genesis does not provide an official acceleration time.
The “sport-tuned” suspension consists of springs that are just a bit stiffer than those fitted to the standard car, along with revised damper tuning. When you dial up the maximum Sport+ drive mode, those electronically-controlled dampers get way stiffer than you might expect for such a big sedan — you really don’t want to cruise around in this mode, because it’s jarringly stiff. Plus, the steering becomes unnaturally heavy to the point of being annoying, a trait shared with the GV70 Sport.
One would hope that this added stiffness might translate into better handling performance, but the G80 Sport Prestige doesn’t have the same playful attitude as its rock star little sibling, the G70. This is a big, heavy sedan that feels like a big, heavy sedan in all circumstances. The addition of rear-wheel steering helps turn-in feel quicker, but we still wouldn’t describe it as agile. There’s not much in the way of body roll, but unlike many big cars that shrink around you in a physics-defying manner, the G80 provides no such theatrics. It’s capable and willing to be tossed around, but it’s not a joyous nor fun exercise. The stiff suspension is a detriment in some cases, as it crashes over poor pavement mid-corner, feeling somewhat jittery and unrefined in the process.
The all-wheel drive system effectively gets power down, but the car doesn’t translate what’s going on at the wheels back to the steering wheel, leaving you largely numb to the road. You can coax a small bit of slip angle with traction control off, but the car is neither eager to do so nor confidence-inspiring (read: predictable) once you get there. At least the transmission is eager to please in Sport+, as it’s always shifting down when it can and holding gears as long as possible. Plus, the brake pedal is super stiff and responsive when you have it in its sport setting — Genesis uses brake-by-wire tech to change pedal feel depending on what mode you set it to.
Where this G80 Sport Prestige shines best is when you dial it back into the basic Sport mode, or configure the Individual mode to soften the suspension while keeping everything else in more aggressive settings. Its power is so very satisfying to eat up pavement as you fly up and down a gently curving road — think cruising on Highway 1, not Tail of the Dragon switchbacks. Plus, the added stability afforded by the rear-wheel steering, when the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts at higher-speed situations such as wide sweepers, gives the G80 that buttoned-down and secure feeling we were hoping for in the tighter bits. The suspension is far more forgiving and pliable on poor roads in Sport, but still gives the G80 a planted ride. Our tester was fitted with high-performance all-season Pirelli P Zero tires that afforded plenty of grip, but given the option, we’d suggest paying the extra $500 for the summer tires from the factory. It snowed the week that we had the G80, and the all-season tires were poor replacements for real winter rubber, so you might as well enjoy the extra grip in the summer and invest in a good set of winters for cold months.
Subjected to daily driving duty, the G80 Sport Prestige is excellent, but not perfect. The big sedan has a floaty ride down the highway in Comfort mode, but similar to the BMW M550i we tested last year, it transmits smaller road imperfections back into the cabin and into its occupants. It’s an odd combination of comfort with a side of annoyance, and we wonder if the slightly stiffer springs or super-low-profile tires are to blame. Even with this caveat, the G80 is one of the better-riding luxury sedans out there, trailing more expensive competition like the E-Class and Audi A6.
We can’t say enough good things about the G80’s interior. The Sport trim adds a three-spoke steering wheel (way better than the two-spoke), diamond-pattern weaving on the seats, and your choice of either aluminum, carbon fiber or aluminum/carbon fiber combo trim. Our test car had the carbon fiber paired with Sevilla Red leather, and it was drop-dead gorgeous. There isn’t a part of this interior that doesn’t measure up to what’s coming out of Germany these days, which is a serious accomplishment. We'd say that statement also includes the tech, but in many ways, the Genesis infotainment and driver assist technology is superior. In particular, the exceptional adaptive cruise control system dubbed Highway Driving Assist II makes highway driving a breeze. It’s especially good when you've cranked up the 21-speaker Lexicon audio system that's bound to make any music lover happy.
We can wax poetically about the exterior styling of this G80 Sport Prestige, too. All of the changes for the Sport model give it an even grander presence than before, and there are no cheap performance gimmicks to be found. It’s class, layered on more class, then slathered in this beautiful Makalu Gray Matte paint. For those wanting to stand out further, Genesis offers a Cavendish Red paint option (see above) that is exclusive to the Sport trim. And if you find yourself questioning the wild, patterned wheels in these photos, rest assured that they look stunning in person. This big sedan has huge design presence, more so than most cars on the road today, and it might just be the G80 Sport’s biggest selling point.
Another good reason to go for a G80 Sport is its price. The base Sport starts at $64,795, and the Sport Prestige (the one you want) at $71,095. Equip a Mercedes-Benz E 450 or BMW 540i — the G80 Sport Prestige’s natural competition — with a near-identical level of the G80’s standard equipment, and you’re looking at a price north of $77,000. Are those German luxury sedans worth the extra coin? If you care about at-the-limit handling and want the best driving experience possible, then perhaps yes. Otherwise, this G80 is a devilishly good-looking alternative that we’d highly recommend.