It's a rare occurrence for a new car brand to break into the UK market. It’s even less common for a brand to wade into the most hotly contested areas of the market and grab a foothold instantly. In the premium sector, badge appeal holds a lot of weight, and it takes a long time to overcome the established names. Just ask Lexus – despite competing for over 30 years, it still struggles to achieve even a fraction of the sales of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
So will the struggle be the same for Genesis? Well, it’s launched with an ambitious range – including SUVs, saloons, a shooting brake and even a full EV – that aims to take on the very best rivals that Europe has to offer.
The GV80 is its current flagship SUV, and aims to woo buyers away from the better-known alternatives by combining a high-quality interior, cutting-edge tech and a unique style.
One of the leaders in this area is Volvo. Its XC90 brings an impressive blend of luxury, safety and practicality to the segment, which means it’s the model the GV80 needs to go head-to-head with for it to be judged a credible competitor.
Design & engineering
The launch of the Mk2 XC90 back in 2015 marked a new era for Volvo from which it has not looked back. The brand’s flagship SUV became the first new car to bear the fruits of changing ownership from Ford to Geely, because it made use of the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform that has formed the basis of every 60 and 90-badged Volvo since (plus the rare Polestar 1).
The layout had been developed to accommodate cutting-edge safety tech and plug-in hybrid powertrains, both of which now form key pillars of Volvo’s appeal in this segment.
It also introduced a new design language, which forms a clean, minimalist look that on the outside appears less flashy than the Genesis and its traditional German rivals. The inside is similarly understated, with an uncluttered appearance highlighted only by optional open-pore wood trims that look and feel sumptuous. Smart though it is, the touchpoints feel more expensive in the GV80.
That’s a word that can also be applied to the seat comfort. The seats in the Genesis feel supportive enough – and inflatable side bolsters will even squeeze you gently if you find a road where you can legally reach 81mph – but the Volvo offers softer cushioning that supports weight better.
Genesis GV80 3.0D AWD Luxury 7 Seat
3.0-litre 6cyl turbodiesel, 274bhp
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Test economy: 33.8mpg
Annual road tax: £490
Our GV80 test car was a five-seat model, although for an extra £500 you can order an extra pair of seats to align more closely with the XC90, which we’ll use for the basis of this comparison. In this top-spec luxury trim the GV80 is priced from £62,915, but the addition of the Innovation Pack (£3,900) and metallic paint (£750) bumps that figure up to £67,565.