- What’s Good: interior styling is just about perfect, and the chassis and powertrain are right on the money.
- What’s Bad: more interior space would be nice.
The Genesis G70 fascinates me. Actually, the Genesis brand in general fascinates me and it just so happens the G70 is its latest release, so it will serve as a microcosm for now.
It fascinates me because in this world of crossover everything – including offerings from traditional luxury brands – the world’s newest luxury brand has released a grand total of three cars since its inception two years ago, and a grand total of zero crossovers or SUVs of any kind. Further, we likely won’t be seeing the GV80 Concept that’s been rounding the auto show circuit for about a year now until 2020 or so, leaving Hyundai’s luxury brand in a bit of a unique spot with nothing even resembling a crossover to speak of.
The G70, for its part, comes after the release of first the G90 and then the G80 – both are larger cars, giving the impression that the brand is literally working in reverse. Maybe that’s why we haven’t seen a crossover yet; if they’re going to compete in one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive segments, they’d better do it right.
Having said that: if G’s 80 and 90 are any indication, this one should be very good, since those two are quite good, both in the technology and value senses.
The G70 looks the part; its proportions are right on, with nicely taut body panels to give a smooth, purposeful appearance. The stance is helped by my tester’s blacked-out 19” wheels (with red Brembo brake calipers peeking out from behind) that provide a nice contrast with the blue body colour. If there was a weakness, that paint scheme would probably be it; I find it a little cheap-looking, and Genesis would do well to darken, maybe metallicize it a little bit more. I saw a Nissan Rogue with almost the exact same tint and while the Rogue is a fine vehicle, it is by no means a luxury vehicle as the Genesis purports to be. Darken that paint a little, make it a little more navy and you’d be right on the money.
The detailing is good, though; I love Genesis’ trademark grille treatment and the various shapes the designers have employed for the head- and taillight lenses; the bumpers and wing mirror-mounted turn signals are all well implemented. Even the boomerang-shaped front fender details – often the bane of many a car’s lines – work well here.
Inside is a cornucopia of gorgeous materials and details; the diamond-print leather couldn’t be a better fit in a luxury car and like the exterior, the detailing is just right. There’s a little bit of Audi in the electronic shift lever and a little bit of Mercedes in how aluminum is used for various dials and vent surrounds; normally, derivative styling is a bit of a turn off for me because it often clashes. Not here, however, this is a spectacular and luxurious interior.
If only it were a little…roomier. The driver’s seating position, for example, is OK at first blush but as you spend more time in the car, certain things start to come to light: For starters, if you need to lower the power-adjustable seat all the way down for headroom as I did, the transmission tunnel rises too far above your hips. That’s fine for resting your arm, less so when you realize that it gets in the way of knee room and as a result, the footwell feels very confined. To see if it was an issue with me and my height, I had a shorter passenger sit up front and they felt the same way. So not just me, then. Make no mistake: it’s a very coddling interior that keeps the wheel, shift lever and various infotainment and climate controls close at-hand, but for larger folks especially, the BMW 3 Series and BMW C-Class are a better fit both up front and in the rear. The trunk opening is also a little narrow and shallow, and I can’t help but think that Genesis would have done well to make the G70 just a titch wider; a couple of inches on either side would likely have done the trick.
To my delight, though, I found myself forgetting about all of that as I set off for my test that would take me on the mountain roads just outside of Vancouver, as well as on an autocross track just outside of the city courtesy of the OpenRoad dealer group in Vancouver.
Things start off somewhat tamely; the exhaust note on start-up was a little more gruff than I originally expected but otherwise you’re left to enjoy your iTunes (thank you Apple CarPlay) through the excellent 15-speaker Lexicon sound system with nary a bother either from in front or behind you. Forward progress is serene and comfortable thanks to smart damper settings (which change with the drive mode, or can be manually adjusted by the driver), well-tuned and smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and slippery shape that helps keep wind noise down. Throw the interior space issue aside, and what you’ve got here is a proper luxury cruiser.
Then, you activate “sport” mode (or put the engine/transmission into Sport mode, as I did) and it become abundantly cleat what Genesis got exactly right with the G70. Holy moly, is it ever fast; even after the first unexpected burst of acceleration, I was constantly wowed by just how responsive the powertrain was to even a sight flex of the right foot. With 365 horses and 376 lb-ft of twin-turbocharged torque hauling ‘round less than 2,000 kilos of heft, though, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise just how zippy it is. This is a proper monster of a powertrain and that fact that it goes about its business on a linear power curve (peak torque starts at 1,400 rpm) with minimal turbo lag is a nice achievement for Genesis.
The only way you can have the turbo V6 is with AWD (and an auto; a manual with RWD is actually available at lower trims, believe it or not), and for good reason as this is a great way to harness all that power. As much as you can test an AWD system out on the open road, even the bendiest of b-roads will never provide quite the same canvas as a tight autocross course. It’s a great way to test chassis balance and body control, as well as a demonstration of how easily a car can pull out of many slow, tight situations. And pull the G70 did, the available power shuffling from wheel to wheel and zipping you forward like a bungee cord. Perhaps more revealing was the quick left-right-left manoeuvre at the end of the track’s back straight; every lap I’d go a little faster, a little faster, thinking I was just a single km/h from steamrolling a cone but no shot. Not once was there a cone calamity and while I’d like to say it was all about my skills as a driver, the chassis and responsive steering (also modifiable) have to be given at least some of the credit.
If nothing else, then, the G70 does well to keep Genesis’ mantra of doing somewhat expected things with their cars; this here’s a proper performance sedan that would give every single German and Japanese competitor a real run for its money in a number if situations. Like the company denoted by the winged hood badge, its an entry into a segment that new as it may be, deserves to be considered alongside the best of the best, especially considering it takes less than 60 grand to get the full-load V6 model seen here; cars equipped with the 2.0T turbo four-cylinder barely crack the 40 grand mark. That’s good value, and as a value proposition – even in the luxury world, this matters – nothing really comes close to either the G70 or Genesis. The brand recognition may not be quite there yet, but if they keep churning out products like this, it should be well on its way.