Hyundai-owned Genesis reckons it can take a slice out of the Germans with its new midsize SUV, the GV70. But has it done enough?
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Verdict:In a fair world the GV70 would be causing the German brands some concern - it’s luxurious, nice to drive and loaded with tech. We suspect fashion trends will prevent it from being a mega-seller like the BMW X3 or Audi Q5, but if you want a premium SUV which is a bit different we strongly urge you to consider the GV70.
2022 Genesis GV70: the five-minute read
For people who have had no internet or access to newsstands for the past 12 months here’s a succinct explanation of Genesis: it’s a Hyundai-owned premium brand recently launched in the UK to do battle with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
A major appeal of the GV70 is the fact it is a bit different from other choices, and that includes how it looks. It stands out with Genesis’ glistening and gaping Crest Grille and those sleek quad headlights, which are matched at the rear.
Inside it’s luxe-to-the-max, you’ll struggle to find any billy-basic materials, everything is wrapped in something soft and expensive. It’s going for opulence rather than the businesses-casual style of a BMW, but it feels plush for a car that costs less than £40K.
If you prefer something minimalist the XC60 or Audi Q5 are better though, and keep in mind a new GLC will arrive early 2022 and will share the beautiful cabin of the new C-Class.
The infotainment screen is rich and gloriously wide and using the rotary controller on the centre console is a doddle to navigate, but it’s well out of the driver’s reach despite being touchscreen, which is odd.
The rear seats are adequately roomy, although you’ll get more space to stretch your legs out in a Volvo XC60, while the front seats are as supportive as they are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustment. With a 542-litre boot it’s bang-on par with its rivals, other than the F-Pace which offers over 100-litres more.
One petrol and one diesel: that’s your lot as far as engine choice goes. The 304hp 2.5-litre turbo petrol pulls keenly but is very thirsty, dragging this 2010kg lump around. The smarter choice is the 2.2-litre diesel which goes about its business quietly but strongly and returns up to 40mpg.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox does a very good job of being in the right gear at the right time, although it’s not quite as incisive as BMW’s auto’.
Genesis is going hard on tech, and as a result all GV70s come with something called Ride Preview which uses cameras and sensors to scan the road surface ahead and automatically adjust the damping. In the GV70 it seems to work well, the ride is sightly on the firm side but it manages to not become a nuisance or interference.
The steering is nicely weighted and body roll in bends is noticeable but not disastrously so, it corners more flatly than its bigger brother, the GV80.
For a quiet, relaxing drive the GV70 is as good as anything in the segment and better than many. It’s blissfully quiet inside the cabin and the strong engines and intelligent gearbox makes both low-speed and high-speed driving effortless.
This is the most compelling offering from Genesis so far, although all models have plenty that’s good about them. Genesis knows as much as anyone that German sales numbers are unlikely, but it says it’s cool with that. If that’s true, it can rest easy knowing it’s made a very worthy contender for a fiercely fought battlefield.
A classy feel to the interior is achieved by clean, curved lines and swathes upon swathes of soft touch materials, it really feels like no expense has been spared. In our car test car we found the effect of white switch gear set against plumb-coloured leather slightly chintzy, but everything is solid and well made, and the knurled edges on the switchgear add a splash of Volvo-esque flair.
The driver console acts as the command centre and features two rotary dials – one is a drive selector the other marshals the infotainment system. They are curiously spaced too close together, it’s easy to find the drive selector when you’re looking to change the radio station, but they are both chunky and robust and look good.
The touch-sensitive climate controls are annoying, as they are in just about any car, and there’s something a bit retro-looking about the fat, single spoke steering wheel our test car had – we can’t work out whether we like it or not.
What we definitely do like are the thoughtful touches like the graphic on the infotainment screen that tells you which part of the seat controls your fingers are touching, preventing you from fiddling blindly until you find the switch you need.
The 14.5-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display both offer excellent graphics and response time. We’re not convinced by the 3D effect of the driver’s display, it seems a bit gimmicky, but it’s bright and vivid and can be configured to show plenty of different information.
Controlled via the rotary dial the infotainment system is intuitive and easy to bounce around, an effect helped further by the addition of key shortcut buttons for things like navigation and media. But being perched on top of the dash it’s far too far for the driver to reach safely, so using it as a touchscreen should only be done when stationary or by the passenger.
Starting in the back, legroom is far from cramped but there are roomier cars in the class, such as the Volvo XC60. Headroom isn’t an issue at all though, there’s more than enough even for taller passengers. The rear seats can recline too - something the Volvo doesn’t offer - which improves comfort over long journeys.
As the GV70 is available as all-wheel drive only the transmission tunnel is bulky and impedes legroom for anyone in the middle seat, although shoulder room with three in the back isn’t terrible. The back seats split only in a 60/40 formation, which isn’t as versatile as the Audi Q5’s 40/20/40 split.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive and offer a generous range of adjustability, and visibility is good all-around from the driver’s seat.
The GV70’s 542-litre is on a par with rivals, only beaten significantly by the 650-litre boot of the Jaguar F-Pace. There’s no boot lip either, so loading things in and out is easy. There’s also a handy 12v socket in the boot.
2022 Genesis GV70 engine and tech
One diesel and one petrol: that’s your lot as far as engine choice goes. That’s different to the blueprint of just about all of Genesis’s rivals, which will sell you any flavour of powertrain for any purpose.
The 304hp 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit needs working hard to exploit its 6.1-seconds 0-62mph time, and it is thirsty: think mid-to-high 20s when it comes to MPG.
The 210hp 2.2-litre diesel is our choice. It pulls keenly and does a good job of hustling this 2010kg beast. We managed 36mpg on our test drive, and it does 0-62mph in a briskish 7.4-seconds, with power delivered smoothly and in a linear manner.
All models come with a very capable eight-speed automatic gearbox which we never found to be hesitant or on the wrong cog.
Tech-wise, there’s lots going on. As standard the GV70 comes with the Road View system which scans the road ahead and adjusts the dampers accordingly. You also get adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
These will be expensive optional extras on many rivals, and bear in mind the GV70 already undercuts the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC on price.
Depending on which pack you add to the car you can also have nifty features like blind spot camera feeds which appear on the digital driver’s display when indicating, and a smart cruise control system.
Unlike cars like the X3 and Q5 the GV70 never feels sporty, even when driven in Sport or Sport Plus mode (turns off stability control). Those modes certainly sharpen things up, but Genesis has gone for ‘comfortable wafter’ rather than ‘hot hatch dressed as an SUV’.
It feels big on the road – because it is – but body control isn’t too shabby. It rolls more in corners than something like an M Sport suspension-equipped BMW X3, but it never feels ungainly or saggy.
Because AWD comes as standard it doesn’t get flustered by greasy road surfaces either, and while you are aware of the notchier stuff under the wheels it manages to iron out most imperfections well.
The Road View system seems to achieve its objective, although it’s one of those hard things to test without being able to switch it off, which you can’t do. In general the GV70 handles anything the road throws at it without interrupting the driver or passengers.
More than anything GV70 offers is a peaceful, serene driving experience, especially at high speeds. It’s not what you would call an involving car, but for an effortless drive it’s spot-on. It’s quiet, composed and has more than enough power for all tasks.