GV80 Defines The Future of Genesis Design
The Korean luxury brand’s first SUV hits the market with a distinctive look
Genesis, the four-year-old luxury division of South Korea-based Hyundai Motor Group, has been winning awards and making steady gains as it’s rolled out its current three-car sedan lineup.
One question, however, has been hanging in the air over the brand for much of its existence: will they ever launch an SUV? Truly, they had to: SUVs and light trucks make up nearly 75 per cent of what Canadians are buying these days, a trend that echoes that of markets worldwide. To say that Genesis was overdue would be an understatement.
But the wait is over. The Genesis GV80 is making its Canadian debut here in Toronto at the Canadian International AutoShow with a design that may be even more distinctive than the people patiently awaiting its arrival had anticipated.
The most immediately recognizable element is a design feature that will be the new signature of Genesis: a pair of character lines created by light. The treatment starts at the two light strips between the slim quad headlamps, then continues around to the side garnish turn signal repeaters and ends at the taillights. The end result is a wraparound effect that surrounds the entire vehicle.
Genesis envisions these two bands of light becoming an identifier for its brand, in the style of the Nike swoosh or the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle.
The GV80 is the larger of two SUVs planned for Genesis – a smaller compact SUV is expected to join the lineup within the next two years – and it therefore comes in two- and three-row configurations. The third row is stated openly as being better suited to children and adults of smaller proportions, although the designers have made an effort to ensure that it’s not treated as an afterthought by matching the materials and finishes to those used in the rest of the cabin.
Particular focus has been placed on the second row, which receives plenty of light through the panoramic sunroof and has seats that recline by up to 22 degrees.
“Usually, you focus on the front passenger,” said Richard Trevisan, brand director for Genesis Motors Canada, in an interview. “Designers forget there’s also the rear seat passengers. We put additional detail and functionality in the rear space of our Genesis SUV.”
The GV80 is the first car produced entirely with oversight from Hyundai Motor Group’s key development personnel, including Albert Biermann, who is known for his work with BMW M and now heads the Hyundai Motor Group research and development, and Chief Design Officer Luc Donckerwolke and head of the Hyundai Design Centre SangYup Lee, both renowned automotive designers with extensive high-profile European brand experience.
Trevisan said that the calibre of people behind the GV80 shows that Hyundai Motor Group is investing in the right talent to quickly improve the market position of the Genesis brand.
“Our Executive Vice Chairman (Euisun Chung) put the right people (in place) to manage and build the brand,” Trevisan said. “That makes a brand successful. When you look at what came out of GV80, that’s really a combination of the right strategy from the top management for the positioning of the brand and bringing in the right people to develop a world brand.”
Two engines will be available in North America at launch: a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and a new 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6. Official power output figures for each have not yet been announced. While the GV80 launched in Korea with a diesel engine, that option is not expected to make its way here.
In Canada, all-wheel drive will be standard equipment. Genesis representatives say that the GV80 will offer the lowest-in-class entry price for 22-inch wheels, and the standard 14.5-inch infotainment screen will be the largest in its segment.
Some interesting new safety technology will also be standard. Hyundai Motor Group’s new centre side airbag protects the front-row passengers from injuring one another in a collision by inflating an airbag between the front seats. And the GV80’s collision warning system will integrate interventions to make the vehicle steer away from potential impact with oncoming traffic and brake to avoid colliding with vehicles crossing an intersection or approaching during a left turn. Evasive steering assistance will help drivers avoid crossing the centre line, merging sideways into a lane into the same position as another vehicle, and rear-ending a stopping or stopped vehicle.
As with other Genesis vehicles, the GV80 will be sold in Canada with all-in transparent pricing through an online purchasing system, test drive appointments brought to you at your home or office, plus five years or 100,000 kms of complimentary scheduled maintenance with use of courtesy vehicles dropped off directly to you.
“With GV80, we’re going to new territory,” Trevisan said. “This is our evolution of the brand.
“GV80 has the role of amplifying awareness across the world.”
The GV80 is expected to arrive in Canada this summer.
By Stephanie Wallcraft / Special to wheels.ca