2021 Genesis GV80 bares it all on Instagram

Ronan Glon

Genesis is nearly done turning the GV80 concept it unveiled during the 2017 New York Auto Show into a production model. It's tentatively scheduled to make its debut during the 2020 edition of the event, but low-resolution spy shots posted on Instagram have given us an early look at the SUV.

Uploaded by user Allcarnews, the photos look like they were taken in one of the Hyundai-owned brand's storage or testing facilities. They suggest the aforementioned design study accurately previewed the model, though its styling has evolved during the transition from a concept to a production car. The headlights look bigger, which isn't surprising considering how small the concept's were, and the grille has grown in size. The new look brings the GV80 in line with the recently-updated G90, the flagship of the Genesis range, without simply copying its face and pasting it onto an SUV.

The proportions don't change much, but the rear end received comprehensive modifications. On the concept, the rear lights were pairs of thin, horizontal LEDs shaped like the ones up front. On the production model, they look like much bigger units that stretch well into the quarter panels.

The Instagram leak also reveals part of the GV80's interior. There's a tall, slanted center console separating the two front seats. The driver will use an electronic dial to shift into gear, while a round touchpad and an array of buttons will let the front passengers navigate the infotainment system displayed on a wide screen embedded into the dashboard. Some trim levels will receive a digital, driver-configurable instrument cluster, but base models will settle for a set of analog gauges.

Genesis will build the GV80 on the same rear-wheel drive platform that will underpin the next-generation G80, and the two models will share a long list of mechanical components including a V6 engine. The South Korean firm previously warned not to wait for another evolution of its V8, so there's little reason to believe the GV80 will get an eight-cylinder option, but a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain will likely join the range a couple of years into the production run. All-wheel drive will be available; it will either be offered at an extra cost, or fitted as standard on some trim levels.

We expect the Genesis GV80 will break cover in early 2020 and go on sale shortly after as a 2021 model. When it lands, it will compete in a segment that's bursting at the seams, against popular, well-established people-movers like the Audi Q7, the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Lincoln Aviator and the Volvo XC90, among others. Pricing will start in the vicinity of $50,000.

In hindsight, launching the Genesis brand as a three-pronged range of sedans in a market with an insatiable appetite for crossovers and SUVs was short-sighted. While the GV80 will lead the company into the SUV market, it will be followed by a smaller model tentatively named GV70 that will tussle against the Q5, the X3 and the GLC, among others. We might see it before the end of 2020.