It’s no secret the immediate future of Genesis, Hyundai’s five-year-old luxury brand, rests on the potential of its new GV70. The premium compact SUV segment is so popular that this single model could double the company’s sales – if it’s successful.
The Korean maker has three sedans in its lineup and one larger SUV. So far, they’ve all been very well received: the GV80 was named Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year for 2020 by AJAC, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and the G80 was shortlisted for Canadian Car of the Year. In 2019, the sporty G70 was named North American Car of the Year.
Now the GV70 wants to be all things to all drivers. It wants to be luxurious, to pull drivers away from their BMW X3s and Volvo XC60s. It wants to be quiet and opulent, to attract drivers of Lincoln Corsairs and Lexus NXs. And it wants to be sporty, nipping at the market for Porsche Macans.
To do this, Genesis offers different versions of the GV70, either “athletic” or “elegant.” There are six different trim levels ranging from $49,000 to $75,500, and those prices are both all-in and non-negotiable, excepting only taxes. They’re powered by two different engines, the same turbocharged 2.5-litre and twin-turbo 3.5-litre that are under the hoods of the heavier GV80 and G80, but all on the same platform as the sprightly G70.
This all looks good on paper, but does it come together in the metal, out on the road?
My tester was the fully-loaded 3.5-litre Sport Plus, and when I say fully loaded, there’s really not much else Genesis could stuff into it. It would have been nice if the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was wireless, for total integration with my smart phone without having to think about plugging it in, but this is a First World problem. It would also have been nice if I could see the colourful (and optional) heads-up display through my polarized sunglasses, as I can with Hondas and Volvos and Fords. Not to worry: the HUDs on Mercedes and BMWs are also invisible when polarized, so it’s in good company.
The larger engine was powerful enough to make driving a breeze, and my fuel consumption wasn’t too bad at an average of 11.2 L/100 km. The official combined average is 11.6 and I rarely come in better; the smaller engine has an official average of 9.7 L/100 km, which is a sizable improvement.
Maybe I got the better mileage because the Sport Plus really isn’t all that sporty. It looks the business but it’s basically just an appearance package, with larger air intakes, round tailpipes and dark chrome accents. The engine is more powerful and the brakes are larger, but the electronically-controlled suspension is exactly the same. It’s very good and goes around corners well enough, but it’s the same, re-tweaked MacPherson multi-link at the front and multi-link at the back as with the basic model for $26,500 less. So good luck trying to entice those Macan drivers.
The GV70 is well equipped with standard features, including all of the important driver’s assistance that you’ll want. The most notable feature is its semi-autonomous driving capability: you can set the “Highway Driving Assist 2” and then not touch the steering wheel for two or three minutes at a time. It will even change lanes itself if you flick on the indicator and it’s safe to do so.
This semi-autonomous driving is a step above most other vehicles, which only allow 15 seconds or so before needing you to prove you’re awake by touching the wheel. Hyundai as a group has brought this down from the eight or nine minutes I could drive just a year or two ago without touching the wheel. Maybe Hyundai/Kia/Genesis changed its legal advice team.
Genesis wants to make its vehicle ownership easy, and that means prices are fixed and all-inclusive, with five years of basic maintenance and even free delivery and use of a loaner vehicle while yours is taken away for service. The challenge is that you need to live within 50 kilometres of a dealership for this and currently, most of the 30-or-so dealerships are in large cities, with only two east of Quebec, in Halifax and St. John’s. There are plans for another 10 to open this year, however, and if the GV70 does indeed double the brand’s sales, more will surely follow.
2021 Genesis GV70
Base price/As tested: $49,000 / $75,500, plus taxes
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged inline-four / 3.5-litre twin turbo V6
Transmission/Drive: 8-speed automatic / AWD
Fuel economy (litres/100 km):
- 2.5L: 10.7 City, 8.4 Hwy, 9.7 Comb.
- 3.5L: 12.9 City, 10.0 Hwy., 11.6 Comb.
Alternatives: BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, Porsche Macan, Lincoln Corsair, Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX
The GV70 looks great. There – I said it. Slim pairs of lights at the front and back, smooth creases at the side, a nice slope to the rear and your choice of looking graceful or a bit sporty. Nothing out of place. What’s not to like?
The cabin is almost minimalist, which means most of the controls are accessed through the rotary knob on the centre console, or by voice command. The transmission is selected with an elegant glass knob also on the centre console, though drivers with arthritic hands may have a problem grasping it. The air vents are slim and discreet, and the centre display touch screen is a very wide 14.5 inches.
The seats are comfortable and fitted with various grades of leather or (gasp!) leatherette through the trim levels. The driver’s seat in the top three trims has an effective massage function, though this isn’t available for the passenger. In the back, there’s plenty of headroom and reasonable leg space for adults. There’s even a motion sensor back there sensitive enough to detect the movement of a child’s breathing, which will alert you if you leave the car and might forget there’s somebody asleep in the rear seat.
I can’t vouch for the 300 hp and 311 lbs.-ft. of the inline-four engine, but the 375 hp and 391 lbs.-ft. of the V6 never left the GV70 feeling lacking. On paper, it compares well with its German competition, and its five electronic drive modes will shift its character from stiff and sporting to lush and luxurious with the touch of a button. Not too much, though. It handles very well, but it’s better at being opulent than athletic. Of course, don’t forget this is an SUV, not a coupe.
This isn’t really an off-road vehicle either, though it has terrain settings for sand, mud, and snow, to make sure its rear-biased AWD never gets stuck. The Sport Plus model I drove includes an electronic limited-slip differential that can move all the power to just one side if needed, or to just one of the rear wheels.
Almost everything you can think of is available and it all works very well. There’s a fingerprint reader on all but the most basic trim that sets the driver profile and unlocks the valet mode. Pay for the upgraded trim and you even get Genesis’ 3D gauge cluster, and a remote self-parking feature that moves the SUV back and forth from outside with the key fob, though I never did figure out how to make this work on my tester.
There are plenty of little storage cubbies, but the overall capacity of the GV70 isn’t that great: 819 litres behind the rear seats and 1,610 litres when those seats are folded flat. Genesis says that’s enough for four golf bags behind the seats and I did put two back there, but the second two would need to lie on top and most golfers don’t like to do that. If you want more space, you’ll need to go up to the larger GV80.
There’s not much to criticize with the GV70 while there’s a lot to like, and its value for money is beyond question. Rapid depreciation has been an issue for earlier Genesis models but those older vehicles might no longer have all-inclusive care packages, and this will probably slow considerably with the brand’s acceptance. If you live close enough to a dealership to take advantage of the Genesis experience, you should definitely consider this capable new SUV.