With this G70, luxury brand Genesis offers a rather different take on the compact executive sports saloon Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
If there's one market sector that the German brands expect to be their own, it's that for the compact-to-mid-sized executive sports saloon. The kind of car epitomised by the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. Brand after brand has tried valiantly to break this segment's Teutonic dominance. Infiniti, Cadillac and Mazda's Xedos nameplate all failed; Honda's Acura brand didn't bother and even more established makes like Alfa Romeo, Lexus, Volvo and Jaguar have had very limited success here. So what chance a completely unknown Korean class entrant, Genesis, with this car, the G70?
You might be inclined to write this model off with little more than a cursory glance, but don't do that quite yet. Genesis, in case you didn't know, is the Hyundai Motor Group's premium brand and the Korean conglomerate has hired some of the biggest names in the motor industry to make sure that Genesis succeeds. This G70 is offered as a saloon and a 'Shooting Brake' estate and there's a separate GV70 SUV model featuring the same mechanicals too - a platform and engineering shared with the impressive Kia Stinger GT. So yes, the G70's worth a second look.
Interestingly, Genesis has chosen to completely ignore the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid tech it has access to from other Hyundai Motor Group brands and go straight from conventional combustion engines to full-EVs. For the time being, customers are being offered those ordinary engines, a 197bhp 2.2-litre diesel for those inclined to ignore the current environmental zeitgeist; or a 2.0-litre petrol turbo unit offered with either 194bhp or 241bhp. Most of the rear-driven platform engineering here is shared with the Kia Stinger but disappointingly, that model's 3.3-litre twin turbo petrol V6 (available on the G70 in other markets) isn't currently in the UK price list.
The looks of this car suggests that it might be a bit of a wafter, like, say Volvo S60 or a Lexus IS, and sure it can do that in the drivetrain's 'Comfort' mode. But in 'Sport', you might be surprised by just how agile the G70 can be. Those modes also alter the damping, plus the fast versions get for pot Brembo brakes, a sports exhaust, grippy tyres and a mechanical limited slip differential for extra cornering traction. Across the range, you have to have an 8-speed auto gearbox, but it rushes through the ratios in the 242bhp petrol version to reach 62mph in 6.1s. There's no 4WD option; you'll need the GV70 SUV model for that.
Design and Build
Ex-Bentley and Lamborghini stylist Luc Donckerwolke is clearly still getting into his stride with Genesis models but he arrived at the Hyundai Motor Group soon enough to oversee some quite neat design touches to this otherwise conventional three-box saloon, which you might prefer in its alternative 'Shooting Brake' estate guise. Owners who can persuade their friends to accompany them inside should find them more impressed. There are plenty of premium materials used and the 10.25-inch centre touchscreen is just well enough disguised from the monitor you'd find in a Hyundai or a Kia for questions not to be asked.
Through the wheel, you view the 12.3-inch digital dial binnacle screen with 3D-effect gauges that work much better than those used in a Peugeot 508, though the display isn't as customisable as the one you'll find in a comparable Audi or Mercedes. The seats are broad and comfortable, but headroom can be compromised a little if you've a model fitted with the big glass sunroof. Which can also affect head space at the rear, where leg room isn't particularly generous. The boot capacity (330-litres) isn't especially large either, though if that were an issue, you'd be looking at the alternative 'Shooting Brake' estate version of this car (with 465-litres); or possibly at the GV70 SUV model.
Market and Model
Prices start at just under £33,500 for the 2.0-litre petrol version - or from around £36,000 for the 2.2-litre diesel. Either way, there are three trim levels - 'Premium', 'Luxury' (around £1,800 more) and 'Sport' (around £4,000 more). These prices are comparable with the entry-level figures for cars like Audi's A4, BMW's 3 Series or the Mercedes C-Class, but with those models, you'll need to spend a lot more to get a comparable level of equipment that fitted with the G70. Just about everything you can imagine is fitted as standard.
Genesis doesn't have a network of UK dealerships. Instead, everything is done via so-called Genesis 'Studios' - which will be shopfronts in upmarket shopping centres. One has already been opened in London and others will follow. But you don't have to go to one of those. You simply connect with Genesis online, then you'll be allocated your own Genesis Personal Assistant who'll take you through the sales process, from test drive to delivery - and they'll deal with after-care as well. This Assistant isn't won't be salaried on commission as an ordinary car salesperson would be, so you won't get any hard sell.
Cost of Ownership
In 2.2-litre diesel form, this G70 is reasonably economic - quoted at 42.7-44.5mpg on the combined cycle. With the 2.0-litre petrol engine, those readings fall to 31.9-35.4mpg. If you want to do better, then you'll need to ask your Genesis Personal assistant about the alternative all-electric version. Insurance is rated at either 37A or 38A.
Every Genesis is covered by a 5 year Care Plan which includes scheduled servicing for 5 years or 50,000 miles. With each service visit, Genesis will collect and return the car to your door. This also applies to any necessary work required, including warranty work. You simply contact your Genesis Personal Assistant to make it happen. Who can also arrange a courtesy car. The 5 year Care Plan also includes updates to in-car navigational maps. And there's complimentary subscription to Genesis Connected Services, which will allow you to access information services from your 'phone to digitally enhance your ownership experience.
The G70 isn't going to cause BMW, Mercedes and Audi too many sleepless nights, but that doesn't mean it can't be considered a success in its own little niche. What you have here is a car with handling almost as engaging as a 3 Series; with build quality like an Audi A4; and the kind of dealer support and reliability you'd get from a Lexus IS. All combined with a unique level of 'we come to you' customer service. There's a market for that. Perhaps it ought to be bigger.
What we can say for certain is that few of the rare people who will opt for a G70 will end up disappointed with their choice. The engines lack of electrification, the styling is an acquired taste and the cabin doesn't feel especially cutting-edge, but there's little else to criticise if you can make efficiency figures add up here. And this is just the first opening salvo from Genesis. We can only imagine what else might be in store.