Genesis GV70 entices drivers out of bed

Peter Atkinson |

Korean luxury marque Genesis straddles the line between looks and price with its GV70 mid-sized SUV.
Korean luxury marque Genesis straddles the line between looks and price with its GV70 mid-sized SUV.

Supermodel Linda Evangelista once declared that she wouldn’t get out of bed “for less than $10,000 a day”. It was contentious at the time, but it did serve to illustrate the indelible bond between beauty and money.

So when a car company suddenly rolls out three new models, all beautiful and all priced to undercut their opposition, the motoring world takes notice.

Korean luxury marque Genesis, owned by Hyundai, has turned the “beauty equals bucks” theory on its head by offering some of the most attractive, yet more affordable, luxury vehicles on the market.

Better still, they’ve launched three of these machines in the space of a few months – firstly their flagship model, the all-new G80 luxury sedan, closely followed by its SUV equivalent, the GV80 and lastly the smaller, more affordable midsize SUV, the GV70.

The GV70 is the most affordable and compelling Genesis so far, as well as the most eye-catching. Its styling resembles a Jaguar F-Pace in silhouette, a Maserati Levante at the front and even brings a touch of Porsche Macan to its curvy rear end.

There’s also some distinctive corporate DNA carried over from the bigger GV80.

The GV70 will initially be offered in four configurations – with three engine choices and the option of two-wheel or all-wheel drive in the base model.

Prices start at a juicy $66,400 for the basic 2.5-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder or $68,786 for the model tested here, which adds all-wheel grip.

It’s an impressive example of what this Korean luxury brand is all about – great looks and, in some cases, world-leading technology, plus accomplished driving dynamics and build standards.

The GV70 will swim in the same pond as established favourites such as BMW’s X3, Audi’s Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC – yet it undercuts all of them on price. But if the Germans have reason to pay attention, it’s Japan’s leading luxury marque, Lexus, that should be seriously worried.

The GV70 sits midway between the Lexus NX and RX SUV models, priced like the former but with the looks and luxury of the latter. That’s a scary combination.

Lexus, having spent three decades perfecting its niche, has suddenly found itself with a genuine rival that virtually sprung up overnight. Their battle will be fought not just on the beauty and quality of their vehicles, but in an area where Lexus has long been a class-leader – customer service.

The Koreans will offer free servicing for five years on all new purchases, with a loan car thrown in. There’s a five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres. Listening, Lexus?

As well as the two turbo four-cylinder models, there’s also a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel and the performance-focused 3.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 which delivers 279 kW and 530Nm for $83,276.

An all-new, fully-electric version is set to join the Genesis fleet early in 2022, which will throw the cat even further among the pigeons.

The 2.5-litre engine of our test vehicle might sound modest but delivers engaging performance with a 0-100km/h sprint of 6.1 seconds (just a second slower than the twin-boosted V6).

It’s a well-resolved drivetrain, smooth and quiet and coupled to smooth eight-speed auto as well as a balanced, serene and stable suspension set up. It feels firm enough to justify those sporty looks, yet comfy enough to match the car’s plush interior.

The inside of the GV70 is a study in tasteful design and luxury finishes. 

Even the basic model gets a full-length sunroof, not to mention stylish diamond-stitched nappa leather seats (heated and ventilated in the front, with a massage function for the driver).

They’ve taken a minimalist approach to switchgear, with most functions driven through a glorious 14.25-inch centre-screen. That infotainment system was responsible for one of the car’s few bugbears – the two rotary dials on the centre console – one of which is for the gearshift (Range Rover style), the other to drive the infotainment system.

It’s easy to grab one while reaching for the other which could result in an inadvertent change in radio station when trying to quickly shift the car from drive to reverse.

The instrument panel is also an all-digital affair, and tastefully done.

But the GV70 is not just a pretty face – it’s also a very clever car.

A friendly woman’s voice not only warns you of looming road hazards such as railway crossings and speed camera zones, the car actually “reads” the road ahead, like a rally co-driver, warning of hazards like “sharp right turn ahead”.

It also occasionally scolds the driver with reminders such as “keep both hands on the wheel” or “keep your eyes on the road” if it senses inattention from the driver. It’s part of an augmented reality navigation system which brings the sat-nav instructions to life.

Despite its relatively compact size and sleek design, the GV70 brings plenty of passenger comfort and ample cargo space beneath that sloping tail – 542L with all seats in use, or a capacious 1678L if the second-row is folded forward.

In all, the GV70 is hard to fault, and very easy to drive.

It is a car well worth getting out of bed for.


* HOW BIG? It sits in the mid-sized category alongside BMW’s X3 and Benz’s GLC. Despite its sporty looks, it’s quite roomy.

* HOW FAST? The tested version will reach the speed limit in 6.1 seconds – a second slower than its high-performance flagship but more than fast enough for most families.

* HOW THIRSTY? The 2.5-litre 4 is a bit thirsty with an average consumption of 10.3L/100km.

* HOW MUCH? A rear-wheel drive version opens the batting at $66,400 plus on-road charges. Our test car added 4WD for an extra $2000; the high-performance model is great value at $83,276.