Genesis G70

Korea takes aim at C-Class and 3 Series; who will flinch first?

ASH WESTERMAN

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Genesis G70 Luxury 3342cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 272kW @ 6000rpm 510Nm @ 1300-4500rpm 8-speed automatic 1750kg (estimated) 4.7sec (claimed) 8.4L/100km $70,000 (estimated) Q1 2018

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

THE WORD ‘Genesis’, Google informs me, come from the Greek for ‘beginning’ and suggests ‘the origin of something important’.

Okay, so that seems appropriate for the word’s deployment by Hyundai for its premium brand. But equally, in this application, the word Genesis could be defined as ‘brain ache.’ Or maybe just mild confusion.

In 2014, you may recall, Hyundai Australia launched a large luxury sedan pitched into the zone dominated by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. So let’s accept that applying the Genesis name to that model, now renamed the G80, was, in hindsight, not the ideal strategy.

Genesis could have been the beginning of the end. Instead, Korea’s largest car company wants you to forget what you recall about the Hyundai Genesis, and open your mind to Genesis the brand.

Just as Lexus is to Toyota, and as Infiniti is to Nissan, now Genesis is to Hyundai.

This car, the mid-size G70 sedan, will spearhead the launch of Genesis in Australia in the first quarter of 2018, offered in three trim levels for the 190kW/353Nm turbo-petrol four, and three trim levels for the 272kW/510Nm twinturbo 3.3-litre V6. All Aussie G70s will drive the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

First impressions are positive; the interiors of the cars we sampled exuded a suitably premium feel in terms of materials and especially in equipment levels.

As for a driving assessment, well, this is an impression only, because the spec of the cars we drove were not representative of what we’ll get in Australia, and we weren’t provided a drive of the 2.0-litre turbo four, a crucial model that will take at least 60 percent of G70 volume in Australia.

The car we did punt, first on road and then on track, was weighed down by all-wheel drive, adding around 70kg, and running a toosoft suspension set-up for the Korean market. It’s a good thing our G70s will be locally tuned for more disciplined body control and improved steering response. Let’s hope the ride on the standard fit 19s retains the comfort factor.

We did sneak one fleeting lap in a rear-drive car, much closer in spec to what we will see in Australia, and what a revelation.

It was a way more satisfying thing to drive vigorously; the nose heaviness of the AWD car was removed, and instantly there was much crisper, more incisive turn-in, followed by much better mid-corner balance.

The engine, which is virtually inaudible at idle, has a note that’s partly synthesised via a digital sound-processing system; it’s agreeably growly without ever being really thrilling. The upshifts are at a fairly conservative 6100rpm, and there’s no manual mode for the transmission – only paddle-shifters to override the whims of the auto. As for performance, the claim for the V6 is 0-100km/h in 4.7sec; expect the reality to be closer to 5.0sec. It’s swift, rather than scintillating.

But it’s premature to try to forecast if the G70 can really rival the best in this class for dynamics.

Fact is Hyundai knows that being a dynamic benchmark isn’t essential to success in this segment. A nice-riding, good-driving package will be enough, given that overall refinement is excellent. The G70’s powers of persuasion will come from other angles of attack; like high standard equipment levels, plus a longer warranty and a more streamlined ownership experience than that offered by the Euros.

In short, Genesis doesn’t just herald a new beginning for Hyundai, it has the potential to usher in a new era of discomfort for the premium European brands.

PLUS & MINUS

Strong V6 engine; ride; equipment; interior quality; value; warranty Transmission response in hard driving; rear-seat packaging; weight

As a package

At 4685mm long, 1850mm wide and 1400mm high, the G70 is 157mm shorter, 18mm narrower and sits on a 70mm shorter wheelbase than the Kia Stinger, with which it shares much of its platform and drivetrain fundamentals. That reduction in size is most apparent in terms of rearseat accommodation.

It’s on the tight side for anyone approaching six foot, and there’s barely any footroom if the front occupants have their seats set at the lowest level.

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