The Genesis GV80 is built on a new, rear-wheel-drive platform, internally called M3. Both its drivetrain layout and name suggest vehicle dynamics were a high priority during development, and for the most part it seems like they were.
After a brief amount of time in the left-front seat while navigating the congested roads around Seoul, this vehicle impressed me. It's quiet inside and reasonably smooth, exactly what one would expect for a South Korean-spec model.
This SUV will receive different chassis tuning for various markets. The version to be sold in America is almost certain to have a firmer suspension setup than the ones offered in Genesis' home market of Korea. Still, even with slightly starchier springs and dampers, it's likely to remain a serene and comfortable cruiser, not a track-day bruiser.
But down the road, there's always room for more, perhaps even a higher-performance model. "I mean, I would always love to do one," said Albert Biermann, president and head of the research and development division at the Hyundai Motor Group, while speaking to members of the press in Seoul. "But at this point I think we are not in a hurry with such a thing, but I cannot say anything." As the former head of BMW's M division, you've got to imagine Biermann is eager to work his engineering magic on a souped-up SUV for Genesis.
When asked if a hypothetical sport version of thewould be fitted with a dual-clutch transmission, Biermann was unambiguous. For the Genesis brand he said, "It's not going to happen." This is possibly because such a gearbox is out of step with the mission statement of a luxury brand. Of course, it could also be because their current eight-speed automatic transmission, which was developed in house, is so good, both smooth and responsive.
Aside from a high-performance version of this SUV, alternative fuels likely have a bright future at Genesis. The GV80 is the first vehicle to ride on that M3 architecture, but Biermann said the next-generation G80 sedan will utilize it as well. It's also likely this new platform will be capable of supporting electrified drivetrains. "Yeah, but we now shouldn't talk about this today," said Biermann. "We want to have some surprise for you … later."
According to Biermann, the Genesis brand has a clear strategy and will move decisively into the world electrification, but he would not elaborate. It's the same story with other alternative propulsion systems. "I am sure we will have a day when … Genesis will have a hydrogen fuel-cell in there," he said. "That's clear, but I will not tell you when." Bummer.
It's still early days for the GV80. Currently on sale in South Korea, this new SUV likely won't make it to American showrooms until at least the middle of the year. This means engineers still have months to develop a performance model or even one that runs on hydrogen. Let's keep our fingers crossed for more, either in 2020 or the years to come.