2018 BMW 540i vs Genesis G80 Sport Comparison

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The BMW 5 Series has been considered the standard for executive sport sedans for decades. But when something is held in such high regard, it tends to hold a higher price tag.

That can leave buyers who want a high-end experience but don’t have a high-end budget feeling left out, but that’s where Genesis steps in. This luxury brand is new on the scene and is looking to take on the established players in the segment by offering high-end luxury without the high-end price.

The products Genesis offers have fared well against premium automakers like Cadillac and Volvo, but it’s about time to see if the Korean luxury brand can stand toe-to-toe with the industry’s gold standard cars. The Genesis G80 Sport lines up almost directly to the BMW 540i, but is significantly cheaper. That’s already a point in favor of the Genesis, but it needs to provide the same drive and luxury experience as the BMW to win over prospective buyers.

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The Tried and True 5 Series

That BMW experience is refined through and through. The new-generation 5 Series is a bit less sport and much more executive, using an architecture that’s borrowed from the bigger, more luxurious 7 Series. The 5 Series also gets a lot of the luxury appointments and features that its bigger sibling is known for. 

For example, our model features soft-close doors, quilted stitched Nappa leather, four-zone automatic climate control, a fragrance dispenser, rear window shades, a heated steering wheel, and massaging front seats that can be heated and ventilated. The cabin is outfitted with ceramic-coated controls, which makes everything feel substantial and expensive. There’s also plenty of space for passengers and their cargo — it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling cramped in the cabin.

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Additionally, the tech features are borderline dizzying. The car has an available mobile hotspot, wireless charging, and USB ports for charging. Apple iPhone users can also use CarPlay wirelessly — BMW is one of the first automakers to support wireless smartphone integration.

The infotainment system and head-up display are high-resolution and filled with useful information. The iDrive infotainment system has also been updated with a more user-friendly menu options and interface, but it still takes some getting used to.

What Are All These Gizmos?

But there is also a worrying amount of gimmicky features in the BMW. For example, the infotainment system can be controlled a few too many ways. It finally features a touchscreen, which is helpful in stationary situations. But there’s also the rotary knob (like before) that has a touchpad for writing inputs, and a 3D gesture control system, which can be a bit finicky at times. The 3D gesture controls feel like a party trick to impress passengers and isn’t really that useful in the real world.

ALSO SEE: 2018 BMW 5 Series Review

Then there’s the camera system, which is useful if a bit over-engineered. A number of cameras are set up in an array to display a 3D representation of the car and the space around it. It’s useful except in most cases, I can see what’s around my car by simply looking out of the window. In this case, the car’s technology is more about wowing your friends and neighbors than being actually useful. 

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BMW Driving Dynamics

Once you start driving, though, there is no doubt that the 5 Series is an excellent luxury vehicle. Under the hood of this 540i is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that is turbocharged to make 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a clever eight-speed automatic transmission and the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It’s clever because it can use GPS data to help select which gear to use, and when paired with the adaptive suspension system, the Adaptive drive mode can predict the road ahead and keep the car riding smoothly as a luxury car should.

The other drive modes allow the car to be sportier, comfier, or more fuel efficient by adjusting a number of parameters including shift logic, throttle response, and steering effort. The engine feels powerful, allowing this 4,000-pound car to hit highway speeds in under five seconds. And naturally, the high-tech gizmos extend to the driving aids and safety features as well. The car has a lane-keep function and adaptive cruise control to make long drives feel like a walk in the park (without the tired legs part). The camera array also helps with parking with cross traffic alerts for the front and rear of the vehicle. There’s also a blind-spot monitor and all systems help ensure the car and those around it are safe and at ease.

Compare Specs

2017 BMW 540i xDrive
vs
2017 Genesis G80 Sport
Vehicle 2017 BMW 540i xDrive Advantage 2017 Genesis G80 Sport
Engine3.0L turbo 6-cyl-3.3L turbo 6-cyl
Horsepower335Genesis365
Torque332Genesis376
Transmission8-speed-8-speed
Cargo Capacity (cu-ft)18BMW15.3
US Fuel Economy (MPG combined)23BMW20
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km combined)9.8BMW11.76
US Starting Price$52,195Genesis$42,725
US As Tested Price$77,585Genesis$58,725
CAN Starting Price$65,264Genesis$55,127
CAN As Tested Price$94,064Genesis$62,127

The New Guard

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Jumping into the Genesis afterward is an amazing experience. As a new kid on the block, it comes packing a lot of punch to take on the Goliaths of the industry (and the 5 Series is certainly a Goliath). Under the hood is a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 engine that makes 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. Naturally, it feels much more powerful than the BMW. In fact, the whole powertrain is refined and responsive, which is a lot of what a sport sedan buyer is really looking for. The eight-speed automatic transmission has fewer drive modes than the BMW and isn’t hooked into the GPS for improved fuel economy, but it still manages to change gears smoothly and quickly.

Handling is a different story. The G80 Sport weighs in nearly 600 pounds more than the BMW, and that weight can be felt on the road. The car feels more substantial, bigger, and less playful, agile and versatile than the BMW.

Inside, the Genesis is well-appointed, although it misses the wow factor of the BMW. Instead, it has more headroom and more front legroom than the BMW. The German car beats this Korean in terms of rear seat legroom, though, and there are 18 cubic feet of storage in the trunk compared to the G80’s 15.3.

Interior up to Par

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The trim in the Genesis is noticeably upscale. The carbon fiber appointments are a fancy touch and the quality of the trim seems up to par. If you’ve been in a Hyundai recently, some of the dashboard layout and buttons may look and feel familiar, but that doesn’t seem like a huge drawback.

ALSO SEE: Hyundai’s Genesis Brand Plotting Compact Crossover

Additionally, some might love the huge sunroof in the Genesis, which helps the spacious cabin feel airier. Other features show some disparity between these two cars. The Genesis has a heated steering wheel, along with heated and vented seats, although no massage function. There’s a fancy 17-speaker sound system but no gesture control.

Like the BMW, there’s a lot of safety and driver assistance technology in the Genesis. It too has adaptive cruise control and can come to a full stop in traffic. It also has a head up display, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Functionally speaking, it does much of what the BMW does but isn’t as flashy. Calling it a simpler luxury car is appropriate, as it has everything you’d want in a high-end fully featured car, but isn’t as gimmicky as the BMW.

Huge Cost Difference

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Then again, the Genesis costs just over $55,000 for a rear-wheel-drive model and all-wheel drive versions are $2,500 more. That’s a bargain considering there are no additional trim packages or expenses. Even all the color choices are no cost. In Canada, the G80 comes fully loaded in one trim and is standard with all-wheel drive, costing $62,000 for the whole package.

The 5 Series tested had a serious issue with price bloat. With all those features, it rang in at over $70,000 in the U.S. (over $90,000 in Canada), which is a far cry from the vehicle’s starting price (as a four-cylinder model) of $52,195 ($65,264 in Canada). Outfitting this car to be its absolute best is going to hit the wallet hard.

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The Verdict: 2018 BMW 540i vs Genesis G80 Sport

On its own, the Genesis leaves a very positive impression by offering just about everything you’d want at a reasonable price. But then after driving the BMW, you’ll pick up on what true futuristic luxury and advanced technology really are and as a result, the Genesis will seem a step behind. The Genesis is significantly cheaper, so if you’re unimpressed with all the technology and features of the BMW and don’t like being nickel and dimed for everything, then the Genesis is a very good alternative.

Without a doubt, the BMW is still the high water mark for this class. It does everything and it does it well. But the Genesis can do about 85 percent of what the BMW can, and for a significant chunk of change less. It’s up to you to decide if you want to pay for the clear cut best or settle for something more reasonable.

BMW 540i xDrive

Genesis G80 Sport

  • State Of Days

    Any comparison review between these two should include $20,000 in cash sitting on the passenger seat of the G80 Sport during test drives. At $58k it’s loaded with the only downside being a name and some engineering? So put the ridiculous amount of money you save on the passenger seat and properly review the two. The G80 Sport is a steal, will keep money in your pocket, turn way more heads (rarity), is bigger and puts a capital “L” in Luxury.

    Trust me, your smile will only grow bigger when heads turn as you park in style, grab your shades and walk away with $20,000 cash in hand.

  • Reckoning Day

    Genesis is heavy, made of cast iron…

  • Reckoning Day

    Oh look people, I own a Genesis !! ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz Hah hah hah pffffffft !

  • The Hammer

    Totally unfair comparison. The Genesis should be compared at the most against an Acura, Infinity or a Lexus.

    By comparing it to BMW, the article is justifying its high cost.

  • Isend2C

    They said at the beginning that Genesis has been beating similar competitors to what you mentioned – Cadillac and Volvo. This was a comparison against the best and it’s not there yet. I’m a Hyundai fanboy and this Genesis is near the top of my dream car list, but they still have improvements to make.

  • Isend2C

    I’m totally with you and would pick the Genesis, but this was seeing if it could match the best regardless of cost and it’s not there yet. It’s a superb vehicle though, and I prefer it to the ultimate sleeping machine BMW is making nowadays.

  • State Of Days

    Yes, I agree. I’ve owned 2 BMWs and tbh the older ones are always more fun to drive than the newer ones. It’ll take Genesis years before they can match or better (unlikely but possible) german engineering.

    I wrote this comment because while not too many reviews are out yet I do see a consistent conclusion the brand will always be fighting, it’s history. I’m not saying saving money is the only metric a car should be measured by, but it’s often an overlooked unit of measure. It usually is a bi-line comment in a reviewer’s closing statement is what I’ve read so far.

    When you have a price difference in a car class that equals the price of a 2nd brand new car, that’s a notible metric. Especially when it’s the difference between most likely the #3 car in the class and the 2 above it and 2 below it. For me, as I tested the e-class, 5 series and g80 sport, I wanted the luxury, space and price in 90% of my daily drive over the occasional corner in the country; which is still pretty awesome with AWD. The g80 sport is perfect for me!

    To each his own 🙂

  • State Of Days

    When you live in a city where luxury cars are like assholes, everyone has them & the biggest ones are Mercedes and BMW, trust me, the car stands out and I find myself talking about it more than the other aforementioned brands above I’ve owned. All 3 are great, they are all top of the class, but Genesis will always be in a battle with it’s own worse enemy, it’s past.

  • bd

    Acura has nothing which competes in this segment.

  • bd

    Yep – BMWs and MBs are a dime a dozen in many places.