New car company start-ups come and go, especially right now as rising interest rates, essential parts shortages and rampant inflation are quickly sapping the liquid funds of numerous electric vehicle makers that only a few months ago were crowing about their future success. Many won’t last through the summer, as the cruel reality of today’s current economic changes will dash their dreams.
On the other hand, there is Hyundai’s Genesis Luxury Car Division. After a sluggish start four years ago with just sedans, the brand’s two new crossovers — the midsize GV80 and this week’s compact GV70 — are selling like the proverbial hotcakes. In a few weeks, the fully electric GV60 compact crossover will join the lineup — a styling exercise come to life that will expand the premium brand’s appeal. By early 2023, an electric version of the GV70 will be part of the rapidly expanding portfolio.
Outfitted in top Prestige trim, with all of the gear on the list ($64,045 as shown, $42,595 base), the GV70 comes with standard AWD and the choice of two turbocharged powerplants; a 2.5-liter four with 300 hp is standard on T and Select models, while the 3.5-liter V-6 with 375 hp is the featured motor on Advanced and Prestige models. An eight-speed automatic channels the satisfying power to all four wheels as necessary, while fuel economy ranges from 22/28 mpg to 19/25 mpg, respectively. Our Mauna Red Prestige returned an honest 25.5 mpg during its busy visit.
Using the German benchmark products popular in this class as a template, the Genesis has the long hood-line like the BMW X3, the sassy and luxurious interior of the Audi Q5, along with the svelte, tight styling lines at the rear of Porsche’s Macan. Add sculpted 21-inch alloy aluminum wheels, dual canon-sized exhaust outlets out back, plus pencil-thin LED lighting and the Genesis makes a dramatically rich statement that viewers were eager to comment about.
Inside, a navy blue cabin swathed in grippy suede and Nappa leather sport seats, complemented by red-piping and red seat belts complete the distinctive take on luxury. Brushed aluminum and soft-touch surfaces are pleasant accents. It is all visually satisfying.
The equipment list matches the styling. Lane change cameras, dual-panel sunroof, forward view camera, remote parking program, Lexicon 16-speaker audio, heated rear seats, rear sunshades, massive 12.3-inch info/entertainment screen with a click controller, 16-way power driver’s seat with speed-sensing side bolster support, Heads-Up display, rear sunshades, plus lots more. Subtle hits include passenger seat power controls in duplicate so the driver can move the seat, a power liftgate button located on the rear wiper arm — cleanly accessed, plus full-length doors that cover the rocker panels.
Yet, the twin-turbo powerplant and the balanced chassis might be the most impressive pieces. The engine is quiet but runs so hard with none of the fury that a high-performance engine might share with its well-heeled owner. Selectable drive modes range from Eco to Sport +, with the commensurate tightening of the shocks, steering and transmission shift points. Running at 10 miles over the highway limit, the Genesis loafs along at barely 2,000 rpms, helping that real-world fuel economy number. Push the GV70 down your favorite twisting tarmac and the athletic feel and overall compliance of the chassis will impress every driver. Genesis studied its primary rivals very well; this is a great driving car.
The verbal “logbook” of comments repeatedly stated how much fun it was to drive the GV70. It was swift, but smooth. It was agile, responsive and hushed. And the interior was comfortable and easy to use, even passing the lumber yard test with 8-foot ship-lap boards neatly fitting inside.
The only fly in this ointment — the rotary shift knob on the console requires you to press a separate piton for “Park,” while the click dial for the big screen is often confused for the shifter in a no-look act when reaching for the shifter. The rest of the vehicle just works, well.
There is no longer any doubt, Hyundai is poised to be a major player in future automobile production. It has improved all aspects of its car lineups from quality to performance to appearance. The company is investing billions in new production facilities in Georgia to build its electric Kias, Hyundais and Genesis vehicles, as well as their innovative 800-volt battery packs. Hyundai brand alone will have nine EV models for sale in the U.S. next year.
There is a pending shakeout coming in the car industry. Hyundai will certainly be a major player after the cookies crumble.
Next week: Acura Integra A-Spec