► New Genesis SUV driven in the UK
► Refined, smart and tech-laden
► This really could tempt you away from the norm
The European invasion of Genesis continues. While the brand has rolled out a pair of saloons – the G70 and G80 – to muscle in on the establishment of the premium exec category, SUVs sell.
So, along with those execs, Genesis is bringing out the big guns as part of its rollout. This is the GV70, a SUV that's designed to divert your gaze away from that X3.
What's a GV70?
As an X3 is to the 3-series, the GV70 is the SUV sibling to the G70 saloon. That 'V' in the name stands for 'versatile', and this new posh Korean crossover has to battle some of the most established cars in the industry. So, along with BMW's X3, it must compete with the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC, Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60 and Lexus NX. A big challenge, then – you only have to ask Infiniti how that went for them.
But Genesis has come prepared. Along with it's 'Five Year Plan' – five years of warranty, servicing, roadside assistance, over-the-air updates and courtesy cars if things go awry – the GV70 undercuts all of those rivals on list price by several thousands in the UK. The GV70, for example, starts at £39,450; around £3k cheaper than a base X3 or Q5, £4k cheaper than a GLC and £7k cheaper than an entry-level Macan.
And, for the money, every GV70 has road-scanning adaptive suspension, a massive 14.5-inch infotainment screen with crisp graphics, auto everything, powered tailgate, electric front seats and a suite of safety aids like adaptive cruise and speed limiter, blind spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. Some of these would be pricey options on any of those other rivals, if available at all.
Rear space is plentiful for adults with a tall roofline and the 542-litre boot is almost as large as the Big Three from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
The GV70 has two engines from launch: a 300bhp 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol and a 207bhp 2.2-litre diesel, both with no electric assistance to speak of. Both have eight-speed autos and all-wheel drive, with off-road terrain modes as well as on-road ones. Your specs are Premium Line, Luxury Line (which adds 21-inch wheels, more leather inside, rear air-con, heated seats and steering wheel and ambient lighting) and Sport Line (racier body kit, different 19-inch wheels, black detailing and leather and part-mesh seats inside.
There are also option packs. The Innovation Pack is the most fruitful, adding kit like full adaptive LED headlights, a larger instruments display, a head-up display, remote parking functions, a 3D surround view system for parking, a wireless phone charger and Hyundai Motor Group's blind spot view monitor that first debuted on the hydrogen fuel cell Nexo. A sunroof, seating pack, Nappa leather, an electronic limited-slip differential and a Lexicon audio system are all on the ticky box list, too.
Blind Spot View Monitor: does it work?
Here, we've tested a petrol Sport Line (£43,350 before options) with the Innovation Pack, seating pack and an e-LSD. All in, it's £50,810 – a comparable Q5 45 TFSI S Line with most of the options ticked is £51k, and doesn't even have half of the clever details and bits of tech the Genesis has.
Clever details, you say?
There are bits of tech and little things where you can see Genesis has really paid attention. The seat and steering wheel move into your position when you get in like a Lexus. There's augmented-reality graphics in the navigation system and a gentle 3D effect to the digital instruments. The expansive infotainment screen is easy to navigate via a fat and tactile click wheel on the centre console. The little pop-out cubby, also on the centre console, has such a satisfying action to it that I couldn't help but open and close it several times and, if you reach down to adjust your seat, a little graphic of what adjustment switch you're touching comes up on the screen even before you move anything. Spooky.
But there are a couple of eyebrow-raising quirks. That big infotainment dial is located perilously close to the drive selector, for example – once, I almost went for reverse at speed when I just wanted to zoom the map out. Said mapping system is Hyundai Motor Group's bum-basic affair devoid of any real detail or interest when looking at it, and the air con controls take a while to get used to, as the haptic 'buttons' are small.
Can you drive it now, please?
Sorry – got carried away.
What you notice first as you get rolling is the GV70's heft – this one borders on around two tonnes, and you can feel it in the steering and pedal controls. It's not off-putting in a barely-able-to-contain-itself kind of way, though – the steering is fluid but weighty no matter what the speed, giving you this impression of the GV70 feeling like an assured, quality product. The brake pedal, too, has a balanced application to it but requires real pressure.
As the first few miles go on, nipping in and out of bustling small towns, the GV70 also feels wide. It has a circa-20mm wider footprint than a GLC or Q5 but, on the road, it feels like more, making some tight squeezes through street-parked roads a little unnerving. That 2.5-litre petrol is humming away in the distance, and you barely notice the eight-speed auto juggle all those gears. You feel isolated and soothed as you just potter about, drive mode in Eco (with it's properly Tron-like dials) with engine coasting at any given opportunity.
On the motorway, the GV70 comes into its own. Drive mode in Comfort, that road-scanning suspension comes into its own; you're so used to wincing and bracing for big ruts in the road but the Genesis takes most of the edge off – only an air-sprung car would feel softer. Tyre noise is well damped (unlike the G70 saloon), too. It's refined and relaxing in here.
Should the mood take you and you want to take the long, twisty route home, it's a mixed bag. Flick the drive mode into Sport (there's even a Sport+ mode that switches off the traction control!) and the engine tenses, the throttle chugs a can of energy drink and the gearbox downshifts a couple of cogs, ready for action. It's quick to react to your inputs, giving you a surge of power and a sporty soundtrack to accompany it if you hoof it. The all-wheel drive system is unphased by all of your hoonery; there's no understeer even if you get silly with your corner speeds and that e-LSD even allows the rear to pivot just a touch more for a bit of fun.
You do have to manhandle the steering a little to get it to really comply, though, and body control is good but not hot hatch-like; there's just enough roll around corners to make you hold on but not throw you out your seat. It's not as sharp or light on its feet as a Porsche Macan or BMW X3, basically, but the GV70 isn't trying to be, either.
But, after you've had your fun, you'll wince at your economy figure – this petrol engine is thirsty. A mix of country town pottering, motorway cruising and B-road blasts on our test returned a figure of around 25mpg. Hell, even Genesis claims it can't do more than 30, which isn't good enough. And, given its CO2 figure of 218g/km, you're lumped by a £1345-per-year road tax bill. Ouch.
Genesis GV70: verdict
Even with the thirsty petrol engine, though, this might be the most convincing Genesis yet. We understand that option-limiting remark might be like saying 'chocolate is the best flavour in a Neopolitan ice cream' but, if you reference the rest of the sector's rivals, the GV70 offers so much.
On paper, it's a tremendously good deal compared to other European competitors; the standard kit list is huge and the optional technology sometimes far outstrips what the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes can offer in this segment. It's refined, smooth and comfortable and comes with a properly show-stopping, well made and (mostly) user-friendly interior.
The GV70 isn't just a car for people that want to be different for the sake of it. Yes, it's not as sharp to drive as an X3 or Macan, but it's far less dull than a Q5, manages to be better built and techier inside than a GLC and feels far less brittle than an XC60. If there was one car in the Genesis range you should pay attention to, it's this one.