The notion of a bread-and-butter automotive brand carving out a niche in the premium arena isn’t a new one. Toyota paved the way; its upmarket Lexus offshoot has gone from strength to strength since the 1989 debut of its maiden offering: the superbly polished LS400 sedan. Nissan and Honda have tried to do likewise – via their Infiniti and Acura marques – but haven’t enjoyed the same degree of success as Toyota/Lexus.
Hyundai watched this premium push unfold from the sidelines before tossing its hat into the ring via the 2015 launch of its standalone Genesis line-up. Initially focusing on sedans, the marque has now ventured into the booming SUV genre, rolling out the GV80 in late 2020, followed earlier this year by the GV70.
We reviewed the GV80 a few months ago and, on the whole, came away impressed. The good news is that the GV70 is an even better vehicle in almost every aspect. More compact than the former, the GV70 measures 4,715 millimetres long and 1,910mm wide, which puts it up against cars such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
The GV70 is offered with a choice of 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo power (priced from Dh199,900, and eking out 304hp and 421Nm) and a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 model (priced from Dh280,000, and cranking out 380hp and 529Nm).
Even the entry-level GV70 isn’t a bargain-basement special, but you won’t be left wanting in terms of mod-con bells and whistles. A barrage of safety kit – including eight airbags, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist and plenty more – is standard across the range.
You also get dual LED headlamps, a 14.5-inch infotainment screen, a virtual TFT instrument cluster, electrically adjustable seats, and front and rear parking sensors as part of the deal. In addition, the flagship 3.5T Royal Sport we tested comes equipped with goodies such as 21-inch alloys, diamond-quilted Nappa leather trim and an electronic limited-slip differential at no extra cost.
So much for the ingredients, but the question is whether the GV70 gels as an overall package. The short answer is yes, even though the newcomer is not without its shortcomings. The range-topping 3.5-litre twin-turbo motor is decently punchy, but it sounds distinctly coarse and thrashy when you give it the beans.
The eight-speed auto (operated via a rotary dial, rather than a conventional gear lever) is also not ideally calibrated, as it’s slow to kick down to a lower gear when you want a quick burst of acceleration. The solution is to either leave the car in sport mode or use the paddle shifters to ensure you’re in the right gear for the situation.
These niggles aside, the GV70 is a stylish and well-resolved luxury crossover. It’s quiet and composed at cruising speeds, the ride is compliant, and it doesn’t degenerate into a soggy understeering mess should you decide to hustle it through a corner or two. Ensconced within its leather-lined cabin, you are left with the impression that this is indeed a vehicle that belongs in the premium segment – as opposed to a flashy pretender that looks the business but lacks any genuine substance.
The GV70’s profile has a hint of Porsche Macan about it, but there’s no risk of it being mistaken for anything other than what it is, as its design language is bold and distinctive without being over the top. The cabin, too, is impeccably crafted, although, somewhat disappointingly, the Nappa leather has neither the aroma or feel you’d get in a rival offering from Mercedes/Audi/BMW/Jaguar. There’s also a touch of cost-cutting in the plastic used for some of the knobs, switchgear and trim elements.
All in all, the GV70 is a capable and credible debutant from Genesis. It is further evidence that the fledgling Korean marque is on the right track in its quest to pinch a chunk of premium segment sales from the German and Japanese heavyweights.
Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 380hp at 5,800rpm
Torque: 529Nm from 1,300-4,500rpm
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Price: from Dh280,000 (as tested)
On sale: now