Genesis GV80 review

Genesis GV80 SUV

It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new name to the UK car market, so let’s hear it for plush South Korean brand, Genesis.

Already successful in the US and South Korea (with 130,000 sales in 2020 alone), the luxury division of Hyundai (think Lexus/Toyota) initially launches in Europe with two cars – the GV80 SUV and G80 saloon.

Both face a tough task, especially when it comes to stealing sales from the German big three – BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Genesis GV80 SUV

Apart from competitive pricing, Genesis has another couple of tricks up its sleeve to entice buyers, most notably a unique buying experience, generous warranty and VIP aftercare package (of which more later).

The epic BMW X5-sized GV80 is likely to be the best-seller for Genesis until smaller, electrified models appear over the next few years.

Weirdly, when most new launches are either hybrids or fully electric, the GV80 is only initially available with a choice of 2.5-litre petrol or straight-six 3.0-litre diesel engines.

Genesis GV80 SUV

Starting at £56,815, both versions have four-wheel-drive as standard and you can choose between seven or five seats.

The GV80 certainly has road presence and its Korean origins and American appeal are obvious. The enormous chrome grille, bold winged badge and twin horizontal LED headlights are attention grabbers, while the general shape is classic SUV.

There’s even a hint of the Bentley Bentayga there, which is no surprise given that Genesis’s chief designer is Luc Donckerwolke used to have a drawing board at the luxury marque.

Genesis GV80 SUV

The beautifully finished interior is just as impressive with its blend of high-quality materials, comfortable seats and modern technology, including a panoramic 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 13.3-inch digital driver’s cluster and head-up display.

We tested the 274bhp diesel mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, configured as a spacious five-seater.

There’s lounge-like space up front and space for three adults in the back, while the boot can swallow 735 litres of luggage, or an enormous 2,152 litres of kit with the rear seats folded.

Genesis GV80 SUV

Naturally, there’s a commanding view of the road and let’s just say it’s swift rather than fast.

For the record, it can sprint from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds, fuel economy is 33.1mpg and CO2 emissions are 231g/km.

You’re aware of its size, especially on narrower country roads, where it feels a bit of a handful.

The cabin is light, airy and refined, and it soon becomes clear that it’s been engineered as an effortless long-distance cruiser, perhaps more with the American market in mind.

Genesis GV80 SUV

The ride on motorways and A roads is pleasantly smooth, but it doesn’t feel quite so sophisticated on smaller, rougher routes.

Thanks to all-wheel drive, grip and traction are impressive, while the engine is suitably responsive, the steering is light and precise, and the brakes provide ample stopping power.

More spirited drivers can switch to Sport mode and try their luck on more challenging roads, but the combination of a large girth and moderate body control soon bring you back to your senses.

That said, if you live in the country or you want to stay in control during extreme weather, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a Terrain mode which can switch between Mud, Sand, or Snow conditions.

Genesis GV80 SUV

As you’d expect, the GV80 is generously equipped, not least in the safety department where it gained a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests (a claimed first-in-class central front airbag is fitted as standard) and goodies include active cruise control and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

So, the GV80 is a classy, distinctive, all-round package, but it’s the ownership experience that might swing sales. Not only is it likely to be as dependable as its sister brands, Hyundai and Kia, but the five-year/unlimited mileage warranty is tempting too.

Then there’s the transparent buying process. There are no dealerships. Instead, you visit a studio where you can interact with a Genesis Personal Assistant (GPA), who’s under no pressure to make a sale and is employed on a commission-free basis.

Genesis GV80 SUV

It’s hoped the GPA will remain a direct point of contact throughout your ownership experience, delivering cars for test drives and purchases, and collecting your car for servicing (providing a like-for-like Genesis while your car is away).

The Five-Year Care Plan also includes servicing, roadside assistance, courtesy car, mapping and over-the-air software updates.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a big, plush new SUV that stands out from the crowd, plus peace of mind and excellent customer service, then consider the all-new Genesis GV80. Spacious, safe, comfortable and generously equipped, it’s an effortless cruiser.

Genesis UK

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus was a part-electrification pioneer when it launched the RX400h self-charging hybrid SUV way back in 2004.

However, it’s taken until now for the premium car maker to bring its first all-electric vehicle – the UX 300e – to market.

Consequently, it’s a little late to the party, joining the likes of the similarly sized Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008, to name but a few.

Lexus UX 300e review

Starting at £41,745, the Lexus has an official range just shy of 200 miles (190-196 miles, depending on the wheel size) and looks much the same as its hybrid sibling (priced from £29,955).

“Compact, classy, comfortable and economical, it’s engaging to drive, distinctive and oozes badge appeal,” was our conclusion when we reviewed the regular UX (Urban Crossover) in 2019.

In fact, our only gripes were the CVT gearbox (short doses of uncomfortably high revs on hard acceleration) and the infotainment screen which is accessed via a fiddly touchpad down beside the gear selector.

Lexus UX 300e review

The infotainment system is much the same in the UX 300e, but going all electric means there’s no need for a CVT because it’s a one-speed like all EVs, so the new model is a smoother operator.

For now there’s just one power option and three trims levels. A 201bhp e-motor and 54.3kW battery pack combine to power the front wheels and it’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.5 seconds.

The UX 300e can be fully charged at home in just over eight hours or via a 50KW public charger (up to 80%) in as little as 50 minutes.

Lexus UX 300e review

Naturally, it’s also (modestly) charged on the move via regenerative braking (the levels are controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters) which converts much of the energy lost while decelerating back into stored energy in the car’s battery.

Talking of charge, we found the UX’s real world range to be closer to 170 miles, though this figure will always depend on driving style, terrain, whether you use items such as the heater and the outside temperature.

To look at, the sleek electric UX is definitely one of the most stylish compact SUVs available.

Lexus UX 300e review

In fact, it looks like no other car in its class with bold, sculpted lines, a full-width rear lightbar, roof spoiler and that unmistakable Lexus mesh front grille.

Slightly lower than most competitors and sporting a coupe-like profile, it’s full of innovative features including wheel arch mouldings which not only protect the bodywork, but also have a secondary aerodynamic function, just like the rear lights and the special alloy wheels.

Inside, it oozes class. There’s plenty of room up front, though it’s not as spacious in the rear as some rivals, no is there much space to stick your feet under the front seats, thanks to the batteries below.

Lexus UX 300e review

Luggage capacity is a useful 367 litres (more than the hybrid UX) expanding to 1,278 litres with the rear seats folded.

The cabin itself is stylish, beautifully finished and very Lexus with superb attention to detail. Up front it’s very driver-centric with the instrument panel, switchgear and infotainment screen subtly angled away from the passenger.

Despite its batteries, the UX 300e feels light on the road and even swifter than the official acceleration figures suggest. In fact, in the wet, the traction control system struggles to stop the front wheels spinning if you really go for it.

Lexus UX 300e review

There is a Sport mode, but the difference isn’t that dramatic, and while body control in faster corners is fairly good, the overwhelming sensation is one of comfort and refinement, which again, is very Lexus.

Like many electric cars, the brakes aren’t massively responsive, though the steering is light, making it easy to drive around town.

The 300e is packed with safety and driver assistance systems, and when the hybrid UX was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 it achieved a maximum score of five stars.

Lexus UX 300e review

And for extra peace of mind, it comes with the standard Lexus three-year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty for the car, plus an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

Perhaps the 300e’s biggest challenge is its price point and range. For instance, it costs significantly more than the e-Niro and Kona Electric (which both have a range closer to 300 miles) and is even nudging the bigger Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3.

Verdict: Refined, comfortable and offering a premium experience, the all-electric Lexus UX 300e is a class act. With a range best suited to urban ownership, it’s easy to drive and stands out from the crowd, but it’s also up against some serious competition.