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2022 Genesis G80 Sport first drive review: All about luxury

Sport, shmort. Genesis' updated G80 is all about luxury.

Cavendish Red is a new shade for 2022.

Genesis

Good news, everyone: Every V6-powered Genesis G80 is now a G80 Sport. And while the Sport-spec tweaks are minor, they simply make an already great car even better.

The Sport's powertrain is the same as before, using Genesis' 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with 375 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a doll, shifting quickly and smoothly, sending power to all four wheels as standard, with an electronic limited-slip differential shuffling power across the rear axle.

Instead of boosting the powertrain, Genesis instead retuned the chassis to give the Sport some more street smarts. The suspension's front and rear springs are 4% and 12% stiffer, respectively, and new rear-axle steering tech can turn the back wheels up to 2 degrees in either direction for improved low- and high-speed maneuverability.

These 20-inch wheels are also available on the GV70 SUV.

Genesis

That all sounds great on paper, but I can't say the changes are super noticeable on pavement -- not without driving a 2022 Sport and 2021 G80 back to back, anyway. What's actually much more meaningful is the optional summer tire package, available on the range-topping Sport Prestige. This swaps out the standard all-season rubber for a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summers, improving the G80's grip without killing its ride quality. Plus, the Sport Prestige comes with active noise cancellation, quelling any extra road roar from those lower-profile, gripper Michelins.

Even so, nothing about this G80 really screams Sport. Think autobahn, not autocross; fast drives on lazy country roads are totally what this car does best.

Evidence of that comes when you switch to the Sport's, uh, Sport driving mode. The steering gets heavier but it doesn't add any additional feedback. The throttle response is sharper, but it's harder to accelerate smoothly. Even the brakes are grabbier in Sport mode, the brake-by-wire tuning putting all the stopping force right at the top of the pedal's stroke.

Then there's Sport Plus mode, which is wholly unnecessary. In addition to the above issues, the transmission holds gears way too long and downshifts at awkward times. Also, Sport Plus partially deactivates the traction control system, which I can't imagine ever wanting to do in a 4,453-pound sedan like the G80. It's like applying the standard Sport Plus playbook to a car that doesn't need it, and this otherwise lovely Genesis is worse when driven this way.

The interior is the best thing about the G80. It's so, so nice.

Genesis

The G80 seems happiest when you just leave it in Comfort mode, or hey, go ahead and set your own parameters through the Custom setting. Piling on the miles is what a big luxury sedan like this does best, and Genesis makes it easy as heck with standard driver-assistance technologies like blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and the company's Highway Driving Assist that combines those last two features.

The Sport's cabin tech mimics the rest of the G80 lineup, with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.5-inch high-def center screen. Genesis' native multimedia software is plenty easy to use, but if you'd like, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are supported, though not wirelessly. All of these systems can be operated by touch, but I do love using the large, textured dial on the center console. It's one of a few beautiful flourishes in the G80's cabin, along with knurled stalks and dials, real metal trim and some seriously supple leather.

Genesis has a few new colorful get-ups for the G80 Sport's cabin, including Sevilla Red or Anthracite Beige leather. There's a rad new stitching pattern for the seats, as well as a three-spoke steering wheel. And what Sport model would be complete without optional carbon trim? Kidding aside, it all looks great.

The G80 still looks awesome.

Genesis

The G80 didn't need any help in the style department, so thankfully, the nips and tucks are subtle. Moving outside, the front and rear bumpers are only kinda-sorta different, and there are new 19- and 20-inch wheel designs. All the G80's bright trim pieces now have a dark glossy chrome finish, and new colors are available, including two matte finishes and the absolutely bangin' Cavendish Red you see here.

Because the G80 Sport isn't a tier-above, standalone model, it doesn't cost much more than last year's V6-powered G80. Pricing starts at $64,475 including $1,025 for destination -- a $1,200 increase over the 2021 G80 3.5T AWD. Stepping up to the 2022 G80 Sport Prestige will set you back $70,775, while the Sport Prestige with summer tire option goes for $71,275. That's a lot, yeah, but a similarly optioned BMW 540i xDrive costs thousands more. And, sure, the 5 Series has sharper reflexes, but I'd so much rather live with the Genesis. It's prettier, more comfortable and so much more interesting inside.

That can be said of every G80 trim, though. And that's why I honestly think the Sport's biggest competitor won't be other luxury cars, it'll be the less-expensive G80 2.5T models. They're just as nice inside and out, and the engine is really freaking good. The Sport might have more power, but the G80's inherent elegance is what really seals the deal.

Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.