Recently, I expressed some concerns with the value proposition of Genesis’ GV80 2.5 five seat SUV. Pleasingly, spending a little more on the GV80 3.0 ($112900 for the all wheel drive 3.0 diesel versus $99200 for the rear wheel drive 2.5 petrol) sees a lot of the issues with the entry level car resolved in a way that a quick look at the spec sheet simply can’t convey.

On paper, the diesel loses a handful of kilowatts to the petrol (204kw vs 224kw) while, admittedly, gaining a few handy torques (588nm @ 1500rpm vs 422nm @ 1650). A slightly shorter final drive ratio goes some way to compensate for the added weight of the electronic on-demand all wheel drive system, yet none of this conveys just how much better the big straight six diesel is compared to it’s four cylinder brother. 

The diesel is effortless in every situation and suits the relaxed cruiser character of the GV80 brilliantly. The addition of two extra seats sweetens the deal even further.

The real point of difference though is in the suspension. Despite having some absolutely cracking suspension hardware, including alloy multilink independent double wishbones and aluminium subframes and cross members resulting in lower unsprung mass, I found the rear wheel drive 2.5 GV80 underwhelming.

Spending extra on the 3.0 sees the inclusion of Genesis’ clever ‘Genesis Adaptive Control Suspension (GACS)’. This system previews the road with a combination of a forward facing monocular lens camera and input from the GPS system (the latter in a limited sense locally, but extensively elsewhere).

The idea is that by recognising problems, such as potholes and speed bumps, early it gives the electronically controlled suspension time to adjust before the wheels reach the issue. Genesis claims “higher comfortability for drivers”. I don’t know about “comfortability” – I just know that it works and the 3.0 GV80 is a far more cohesive drive than the 2.5 GV80. It’s still a bit wallowy and, strangely, simultaneously jittery for my liking, but it’s a big improvement.

In conclusion, you’ve got rocks in your head if you cough up $100k for the 2.5 without first sampling the 3.0. But how does the 3.0 GV80 compare to a similarly priced Euro competitor? Enter Audi’s updated Q7.

Kicking off at $115700 drive away for the diesel Q7 45TDi, the range tops out at $134800 for the petrol Q7 55TFSI S-Line (deeper pockets will see you in the $177k SQ7, but that really is a different beast). So, dearer than the GV80, but not by much.

Given that Audis generally retain 60% to 65% of their value after three years, the initial purchase price difference may prove negligible. No matter how good their cars are, buying a Genesis is much more of a risk. If the company continues to build sales in Australia, just as Lexus has done, then I can’t see why the GV80 can’t return at least as good a retained value as the Audi.

It certainly promises cheaper servicing (free in fact, for the first five years) and it is likely the Koreans will be far more reluctant to charge some of the silly prices the Germans often do for simple wear items – brake discs and pads come to mind. If, however, Genesis leaves this market, as Infiniti has done, resale values will most likely plummet. If this happens, the GV80 will prove to be a diabolically expensive car. 

The EFTM garage was recently host to the range topping Q7 55TFSI S-Line. For your $134k you get a turbocharged V6 with a mild hybrid system (where a battery pack operates many of the car’s systems, therefore reducing fuel use) punching out a very healthy 250kw and 500nm for a 9.4L/100km combined. 

Interestingly, the Q7 is a towing master with a huge 3500kg tow limit and an equally huge 350kg tow ball rating – equivalent to Toyota’s Landcruiser (although the big Cruiser’s gross combined mass is still higher). Admittedly, if you’re towing that much for any sort of distance, maybe go for the diesel as I imagine the 55TFSI’s fuel use will skyrocket! Still, it’s way more than the Genesis can tow. 

Unfortunately, while the Audi’s impressive suite of safety features is matched by the Genesis, the German has no response to the spectacular sound system fitted to the GV80. It’s about the best I’ve experienced. I know it’s a small thing, but touches like this really do give a sense of luxury. The S-Line’s 19 speaker, 730 watt Bang & Olufsen system just can’t compete. Strangely enough, Audi reserves their Bang & Olufsen branded 23 speaker, 1920 watt system as an option only available on the SQ7.

I dare say, it might give the Lexicon/Harman system in the Genesis some trouble, but, as always with products from Europe, at a cost.

Conversely, Audi’s standard fitment Matrix LED headlights leave the Genesis for dead. Despite the Genesis also being fitted with LED headlights, there is simply no contest between the two. It is in details like this, difficult to notice in a short test drive, that the Audi really begins to shine. Where Genesis includes wireless charging, Audi has wireless charging and wireless CarPlay. Where Genesis has a mix of analogue and digital displays, Audi has Audi Virtual Cockpit with a configurable 12.3” high resolution display with haptic feedback.

Where the Genesis has a head up display, Audi has a colour head up display. Likewise, where the lane keep function in the Genesis sometimes tries to spear you off the road, the system in the Audi is near flawless. The ultimate metaphor for these two competitors can be found in their respective suspension setups.

Audi has not fitted the Q7 with any form of predictive adaptive control suspension (although it does have adaptive air springs) because it simply doesn’t need it. The body control Audi has achieved with the Q7 is exceptional. It steers with a precision and fluidity that belies the size of the thing. It is here that the GV80 most fails. 

So, I like the Audi? I bloody love the Audi! It’s a dearer car than the Genesis, but it’s a better car. 

The real question is, will the Koreans beat the Germans in the race for ultimate vehicle body control and steering precision, or will the Germans beat the Koreans with an ownership experience that includes free servicing (for five years), free servicing valet (within 70km of a service centre), a free loan car (within 70km of a service centre) and sensible pricing for service parts (Genesis USA even has a website that lets you know, roughly, how much brake pad replacement should be and advises you that rotors will last longer than pads! – about US$200, if you were wondering).

My money is with the Koreans.