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The Throttle House hosts with a green 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Prestige on a snowy road

Is the 2021 Genesis G80 Really a Mercedes E-Class on a Budget?

Cars like the GV80 show how dedicated Genesis is to delivering luxurious style at more affordable prices. And not just with its SUVs, but with sedans like the Genesis G80 as well. However, is it really a bargain alternative to something like the 2021 Mercedes E-Class, which just won MotorTrend’s Car of the Year? That’s …

Cars like the GV80 show how dedicated Genesis is to delivering luxurious style at more affordable prices. And not just with its SUVs, but with sedans like the Genesis G80 as well. However, is it really a bargain alternative to something like the 2021 Mercedes E-Class, which just won MotorTrend’s Car of the Year? That’s the question YouTube team Throttle House set out to answer.

How does the 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Prestige compare in price and specs to the Mercedes E-Class lineup?

A green 2021 Genesis G80 drives through a busy city
2021 Genesis G80 front 3/4 | Genesis

On a price level, the 2021 Genesis G80 compares very favorably to the 2021 Mercedes E-Class. The base G80 model, the 2.5T RWD, starts at $47,700. In comparison, the base E-Class, the RWD E350, starts at $54,250. The former has a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 300 hp and 311 lb-ft. That’s 45 hp more than the E350’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes, Car and Driver reports.

The 2021 Genesis G80 in Throttle House’s video, though, sits at the top of its range. It’s the G80 3.5T AWD sedan with the Prestige Package. The sedan itself starts at $62,250; the package adds another $5400. Instead of a four-cylinder, the G80 3.5T has 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at 375 hp and 391 lb-ft. And, as the name suggests, it has AWD, linked to an eight-speed automatic.

A tan 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on a forested mountain overlooking a bayside city
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class | Mercedes-Benz

The equivalent 2021 Mercedes E-Class model is the E450 4MATIC. With a $62k starting price, it’s actually slightly cheaper than the base G80 3.5T AWD. On paper, it seems a bit out-gunned at first glance. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six makes ‘just’ 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. However, in addition to AWD and a nine-speed automatic, it has a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that adds up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft for initial acceleration, Car and Driver reports.

As a result, it’s actually slightly faster. In MotorTrend’s testing, the E450 went 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while the Genesis G80 3.5T AWD did it in 5.2 seconds. The Mercedes E-Class also beat the G80’s ¼-mile time by 0.4 seconds. However, the Genesis sedan had a higher final trap speed.

The interior features show the Genesis G80’s bargain nature

Given that the 3.5T AWD Prestige is the range-topping 2021 Genesis G80 trim, it comes suitably well-equipped.

The tan-leather front seats and wood-trimmed dashboard of the 2021 Genesis G80
2021 Genesis G80 interior | Genesis

It has heated rear seats, ventilated and heated front seats, a heads-up display, a 21-speaker Lexicon sound system, and a 3D digital instrument cluster, Autotrader reports. Also, a wireless charging pad, power-adjustable bolsters in the driver’s seat, and front massaging seats, Car and Driver reports. Plus, matte wood trim, Nappa leather upholstery, an expanded ADAS suite, parking assist, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof, soft-close doors, and a power-close trunk. And even the base G80 comes with a 14.5” center touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

In base form, the 2021 Mercedes E-Class offers similar features, Car and Driver reports. The E350 comes with heated front seats, a digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. However, it has a smaller center touchscreen.

The beige-and-gray-leather front seats and piano-black-wood-trimmed dashboard of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4MATIC interior | Mercedes-Benz

The E450 4MATIC also has some of the same features as the G80 3.5T AWD Prestige. But, if you want Nappa leather, heated rear seats, massaging seats, parking assist, lane-keeping assist, and LED lights, they all cost extra. Admittedly, the E450 does have optional heated armrests, something the Genesis lacks. However, once you’ve equipped the Mercedes E-Class to G80 levels, it costs about $78,000.

Does it deliver the same kind of driving experience?

So, purely from an options perspective, the 2021 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD Prestige packs more in for the money. But what happens when it hits the road?

Comparing the two sedans’ interiors, the Mercedes E-Class has slightly softer, more premium-feeling materials, MT reports. But it’s a very close thing. The Genesis G80 has knurled metal trim, and excellent leather and wood. Roadshow ranks the G80’s attention to interior detail “right up there with Audi and Mercedes-Benz.” And it has more rear-passenger room than the E-Class, MT reports.

However, reviews of the Genesis G80’s infotainment system are split. Road & Track found it easier to use than Mercedes’ system, while MT found the exact opposite. But MT also notes that even after a mid-cycle update, the Mercedes E-Class’s infotainment still has a high learning curve. And for what it’s worth, Throttle House calls the G80’s system “the most intuitive infotainment on the market.”

Arguably the biggest differences between the Genesis G80 and Mercedes E-Class, though, stem from how they handle. The German model is ranked as the top luxury sedan not just for its interior, but also for a smooth and comfortable ride. In contrast, the G80 rides more roughly, MT reports, though Car and Driver found it to be “supple.”

However, Throttle House reports the G80 has impressively-fast steering and old-school-BMW-like handling. It’s sportier than the E-Class in that regard, though Autotrader reports that it’s still a comfortable-driving car.

Is the 2021 Genesis G80 worth considering as a more-affordable Mercedes E-Class?

Considering some of the disparate reviews on its ride and infotainment, it’s worth test-driving a 2021 Genesis G80 before you buy it. But is it worth even going to the dealer to have a look?

As a pure luxury car, the Mercedes E-Class has a few advantages over the G80. It has some slightly better materials and a more luxurious ride. Plus, you can also get it as a convertible and as a wagon. But, if you want to save some money and get something slightly sportier, there’s a lot to like about the Genesis.

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The 2021 Genesis GV80 Is Setting an Example Other Luxury Suvs Need to Follow