Car reviews - Genesis - GV70
Seductive performance; AWD chassis involvement; stylish appearance; excellent trim quality; spacious and comfortable interior.
Room for improvement
Considerable weight; considerable fuel thirst; inadequate bottle storage in all doors; front seats deserve more under-thigh support.
Crucial GV70 medium SUV proves that Genesis understands the meaning of sporting luxury
13 Aug 2021
With medium SUVs now an entrenched part of Australia’s staple automotive diet – and premium-badged, premium-priced models making up 16 percent of that considerable wedge – the GV70 was always going to be a crucial model for the burgeoning Genesis brand.
Favouring a fastback, coupe-like shape over a more traditional box-style wagon, the GV70 is as much about visual dynamism as it is about actual dynamic excellence, which is exactly the direction it needed to take to make an impact.
It’s also slightly bigger than the German competition benchmarked by Genesis during its development – the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. Compared to an X3, the GV70 is longer (by 7mm) and wider (by 19mm), with a longer wheelbase (by 11mm), yet it stands considerably lower (by 46mm), has less ground clearance (185mm versus 204) and has much broader tracks for a more athletic stance than the BMW.
If you compare apples with apples – the flagship GV70 3.5T AWD Sport tested here against its twin-turbo six-cylinder BMW equivalent – then the Genesis appears even more muscular, with its 1641/1657mm (front/rear) measurements comfortably out-sizing the X3 M40i’s 1615/1594mm track widths.
Yet when you compare pricing, our fully optioned GV70 3.5T AWD Sport with matte paint ($2000) and Luxury pack ($6600) leaves the X3 M40i for dead.
At an as-tested price of $91,876 (before on-road costs), the twin-turbo V6 GV70 is substantially less than a dead-stock X3 M40i at $113,471 (before on-road costs, or any options).
Indeed, the top-dog GV70’s logical price competitor is an X3 xDrive 30i M Sport (starting at $82,971) with its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder, yet if you again compare like for like, a GV70 2.5T AWD with Sport Line package is $73,276.
So in terms of presence, specification and price, the GV70 is right in the thick of it, with the expected promise of an all-electric version to come – giving the about-to-launch BMW iX3 a direct rival.
But the GV70 needs to be more than just stylish sheetmetal and an attractive price. To achieve genuine cut-through in a cut-throat market, this new Genesis medium SUV needs dynamic smarts, cabin flair, cutting-edge tech, and some actual glamour to underpin its ease-of-ownership promise.
If the deeper you dig, the better a car gets, then the GV70 is the perfect reflection of where the Genesis brand’s maturity currently stands. Because the more you ask of this range-topping 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 AWD, the greater your respect for the GV70 as a whole.
From the outset, it may not be quite to everyone’s taste. The rather flowery Genesis logo combined with the GV70’s not-so-subtle ‘G-Matrix’ grille and striking ‘two-line’ quad head- and tail-lamps is the sort of detail that grabs attention for many reasons, though familiarity definitely enhances its appeal.
The rear lights in particular give the GV70 tremendous visual personality, as do the almost comically huge, fully integrated rear exhaust outlets – massive circular pipes on Sport models and boxy vertical shapes on other variants (yet completely disguised on the turbo-diesel).
The steep rake of the GV70’s bladed C-pillars, combined with its muscular rear body creases and wide rear track, produce an SUV that challenges a Porsche Macan for visual dynamism.
That refreshing difference continues inside with high-quality leather lavishly coating everything, including the dashtop and doors, and seven interior colour choices (including Velvet Burgundy, Pine Grove Green and, on our test car, a lovely Ultramarine Blue).
An enormous, expensive-looking 14.5-inch multimedia screen stands proud in the dash centre – operated by either touch control or a circular dial on the centre console – and it’s twinned with an oval-shaped HVAC system with haptic touch control that dominates the dash centre.
It all looks quite complex, perhaps even a little over-styled, but it’s beautifully slick and simple to use, and deserves praise for its effortless integration. Rarely is switchgear on a car with such elevated aspirations so intuitive.
The only irritations from the front row relate to the firm ridge running along the centre console, which feels hard against the driver’s leg, the typically undersized door bottle holders (they’ll take 600ml of plastic up front, and hardly anything in the rear), not quite enough under-thigh seat adjustment, the difficult-to-see Drive Mode toggle and the easy-to-confuse gear-selector dial.
We should probably also point out that the 16-speaker, 1050-watt Lexicon by Harman audio (part of the optional Luxury package) doesn’t suit all music styles and can sound a little synthetic, despite providing several staging options.
In the rear, the GV70 is excellent. The outer seating positions offer a fine view and better under-thigh support than the front buckets, while even the middle seat is reasonably useable, especially for smaller passengers. There’s also a tonne of legroom, despite the seat base being fixed in position.
The 60/40-split backrests can be adjusted for rake in multiple positions, and when folded they offer a near-flat extension of the usefully sized 542-litre boot, taking total luggage volume to 1678 litres. In comparison, an X3 offers 550-1600 litres, so virtually the same.
Yet the GV70’s greatest talents lie in the way it drives – especially our 3.5T AWD test car. With a 279kW/530Nm twin-turbo V6 transferring its grunt via an eight-speed auto to a rear-biased all-wheel drive system capable of sending up to 100 percent of drive to the rear wheels or 90 percent to the front wheels, the flagship GV70 really is Macan-like in the way its drives.
The clincher, though, is an electro-mechanical multi-plate clutch-type limited-slip diff on the rear axle that can apportion drive between each wheel – adding a degree of agility to the GV70’s handling that’s both physics-defying and bloody good fun!
In Sport+ drive mode (with firmer damping, a sportier ESC setting, a meatier engine note, more urgent transmission upshifts and sharper throttle response), the GV70 reveals the true nature of its dynamic talents.
It combines rear-drive balance with AWD grip, making powering out of virtually any corner a grin-inducing delight. Indeed, boot it out of a T-junction and you can feel the tail drift around to point the nose exactly where you want it to go.
You can adjust many of these parameters in a ‘Custom’ drive-mode setting, choosing ‘Sport’ AWD but leaving the dampers in ‘Comfort’ for a reasonably cushy ride (especially considering the top GV70 wears 21-inch alloys).
Yet most people will simply leave the GV70 3.5T in its default ‘Comfort’ mode and enjoy its pleasantly cohesive handling and ride, consistent but slightly over-assisted steering, and surprisingly lusty performance.
How lusty? Try 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds and a standing 400m time of 13.4 seconds.
While the twin-turbo V6 GV70 is effortlessly driveable and rapid in normal situations, it’ll surprise you with its unrelenting thrust if you keep your right foot pinned. Even the acoustically enhanced sound of its engine in sportier drive modes is somehow suitable and satisfying.
Where the GV70 ultimately betrays its considerable weight – 2038kg compared to the much-lighter X3 M40i’s 1910kg – is in fast, steady-state cornering.
Load up its custom-developed 255/40R21 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s and you’ll begin to hear some tyre squeal while sensing the two-tonne mass you’re dealing with, which may also have something to do with the GV70’s fuel consumption.
We averaged 11.3L/100km – bang on its official combined number – which isn’t much worse than the 2.5T AWD’s 10.3L/100km.
But then you look at an M40i’s fuel number (between 8.1 and 9.7L/100km, depending on whether it’s an NEDC or WLTP combined figure) and the BMW puts the Genesis in perspective.
Even the 375kW X3 M Competition (with its blistering 0-100km/h time of 3.8sec) is thriftier at 11.0L/100km.
Yet the thing about the G70 3.5T AWD is that no one could ever expect it to be a fuel miser. It’s a deceptively fast and involving premium medium SUV disguised in a handsome, roomy, well-built, good value, neatly customisable package.
If it’s efficiency you want there’s always the 154kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with its 7.8L/100km fuel number, though having briefly sampled one, we can comfortably say it isn’t a patch on the 3.5T for performance (but sounds impressively refined). And there’s always 2022’s expected EV version for anyone chasing minimal use of resources.
Indeed, it’s the all-round refinement of the GV70 that ultimately hits home, regardless of its drivetrain set-up, spec level or colour palette.
This is an interesting, involving and thoroughly developed car – one that speaks volumes about not only the abilities of Hyundai in the modern age but also the aspirations of its Genesis premium brand.
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