FAR FROM PERFECT, BUT DEEPLY LIKEABLE: G70 LEAVES ITS MARK AS A PIVOT POINT FOR KOREA
MY LOCAL barista Ricky rates himself as a bit of a car guy, and relishes the fact that his cafe’s service window faces out onto a quiet street that sees a diverse and often interesting range of metal pulling up as owners arrive for their fix.
“So what’s Genius like, then?” he asked a while ago as he brewed my double shot. We had a slightly awkward moment as I had to point out that it’s Genesis, and explain that the G70 is part of Hyundai’s premium brand. I also had to add that if it had been called a Genius, that would have been stretching the truth just a fraction.
But I’m unsure if Ricky’s lack of brand awareness is a symptom of Genesis not doing enough to promote itself in Australia, or just that he’s not as much of a car guy as he thinks he is. I suspect it’s the former, because very few people who took a passing interest in the car during my six-month tenure knew what it was, where it came from, or what segment it was targeting.
Perhaps even more concerning, from Genesis’s point of view, is how little attention the car attracted generally. Is the styling not sufficiently distinctive? Or is it largely invisible to Aussies because it’s not an SUV or an EV?
Personally, it was both those facts that endeared me to the G70. As much as we talk about modern SUVs driving as adroitly as high-riding hot hatches, the truth is they just don’t deliver the flat, pointy, responsive handling that comes with the lower CoG of a well-sorted sedan (or wagon). It was this dynamic engagement that made the G70 so satisfying on every drive, whether just touring around or having a bit of a back-road blast.
Yes, the downside is the slightly more cumbersome entry and egress, as well as the extra care needed over deep gutters and some speed humps. And I’ve already moaned enough about the compromised packaging of a smallbooted sedan compared to the cargofriendly attributes we take for granted in a mid-size SUV. But I was able to overlook these issues every time an opportunity presented itself to lean on that eager, grippy front end, enjoy the slick steering, the fine roll control, and the brilliant power-down from the LSD-equipped rear end.
As for the powertrain, there was never a moment where I felt the extra expense of the twin-turbo V6 over the 2.0-litre turbo four was an unnecessary indulgence. The premium is a bit over $10K, depending on which of the three spec levels you choose, so easy for me to say when it’s not my money, right? You may also opine, “Oh, with such draconian speeding laws, there’s no point; when would I be able to use the extra power?”
But to use an audio expression, it’s all about ‘headroom’ – you don’t buy a 500-watt amplifier because you want to listen to music at ear-bleed volumes, you buy it because of the smooth, effortless way it reproduces sound at normal listening levels. The G70 is a perfect automotive example of this: I reckon I had the thing pegged up against the limiter for 60 seconds or so in the entire time I had it, but the grunty, effortless shove was something I appreciated on every drive. Never underestimate how enjoyable it is to feel a strong engine whipping you along at only middling revs, minimal NVH, and zero mechanical stress.
It does like a drink, though – my overall of 11.7L/100km was 15 percent above the official combined figure of 10.2. The transmission features a decoupling ‘coasting’ function, but that’s it for dedicated efficiency measures, so ample room for improvement.
Which sums up a few other areas of the G70. In many ways, this feels like a ‘nearly there’ effort, where the final layer of polish and detail – like multimedia, touch points and interior design flourish – have been overlooked.
For conclusive proof of this, just take a close look at the presentation of the GX80 SUV due late this year. This, folks, will be the model that will really establish Genesis as a bona fide player, and grab your (and Ricky’s) attention.
GENESIS G70 ULTIMATE SPORT
Price as tested: $79,950
This month: 1345km @ 11.4L/100km
Overall: 4756km @ 11.7L/100km