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2018 Genesis G80 3.3T Sport: Does It Address Non-Sport's ...

August 19,2017 10:17

If the Genesis G80 had one shortcoming, it's that it's boring. To combat this, Genesis has a new variant for 2018: the G80 3.3T Sport.and more »

CARS.COM — The Genesis G80 is a good, even great, car in many ways. It offers excellent value and features for its price, the Genesis ownership perks are top-notch, and the car drives comfortably and quietly. If the G80 has one shortcoming, it's that it's a bit ... boring.
Related: 2018 Genesis G80 Sport Video Review
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To combat this, Genesis has introduced a new variant of the G80 for 2018: the G80 3.3T Sport. It gets updated styling, new suspension components and — most importantly — a new engine.
The cosmetic modifications to the Sport make it more aggressive, especially from the front. There is a new, black mesh grille up front and a restyled front bumper with large air inlets that replace the foglights. At all four corners are 19-inch alloy wheels with a dark finish (to me, the car's most attractive feature). Inside, carbon-fiber trim pieces replace the standard wood trim, while sport seats add bolstering but remain comfortable even on longer drives.
Performance Upgrades

Under the sheet metal, there are also changes to the suspension and powertrain. The suspension adds continuous damping control, which changes the feel of the suspension depending on the selected drive mode (Eco, Normal or Sport). There are also larger rear brakes for added stopping power.
Powering the G80 Sport is a 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 that makes 376 pounds-feet of torque. This is the same engine that I previously tested in the larger G90 full-size luxury sedan and was very fond of, and the same holds true here. The G80 Sport is offered in rear- and all-wheel drive.
Acceleration Accolades
2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Cars.com photo by Brian Wong
It certainly looks more interesting, but the mechanical changes are the key to fixing the G80's "boring" problem. Do they?
I wavered back and forth on this, but for me, it's a yes — my affection for this engine is hard to overstate, and I can be bribed with acceleration. Though the G80 is offered with a larger 5.0-liter V-8, which makes more horsepower and torque (420 hp and 383 pounds-feet), this engine is still the one I'd take because of its responsiveness. The higher power ceiling of the V-8 comes on later in the rev range; max torque doesn't hit until 5,000 rpm. But the twin-turbo V-6 makes all of its torque starting at 1,300 rpm, and that makes a big difference in the immediacy of acceleration and passing power when cruising at speed.
Suspension Shortcomings
2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Cars.com photo by Brian Wong
What gave me hesitation were the suspension updates, which are less effective. In my review of the 2017 G80, I said that the standard suspension "lacks sharpness when pushed or when the road gets curvier, and the steering could use more feedback." That observation remains true for the G80 Sport.
The malleability of the variable suspension is appreciated; the G80 Sport retains the ride quality and comfort of the normal G80 (both of which are above average). But even with the suspension firmed up, it can't hold up to the G80 Sport's heft. In all-wheel-drive configuration, the curb weight is 4,674 pounds (only 110 pounds less than the similarly equipped G90!), and all that weight is really felt on any road that isn't straight.
There was one other quirk to the G80 Sport that bears mention: It has very twitchy throttle and brake response even with the Normal driving mode engaged. I drove around much of the time in Eco, which with this engine means you still get decent performance, but it smooths out much of the unevenness. I was able to adapt to the G80 Sport's throttle, but the brakes continued to give me trouble in my time with it (sorry, passengers).
The Price Is Right
2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Cars.com photo by Brian Wong
Importantly, the G80 Sport stacks up well compared to the other G80 trim levels on price. It starts at $56,225 for rear-wheel-drive models, while all-wheel-drive models cost $2,500 more at $58,725. That's cheaper than models with the larger V-8 engine and only $900 more than the G80 with the standard 3.8-liter V-6 with Ultimate Package, and the G80 Sport has the same features as that vehicle; $900 isn't much of a premium to pay for a much better engine that's more responsive and makes the whole car more engaging.
If I were to take home a G80, the Sport would be the one for me.
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