You can’t accuse the South Koreans of not trying. Once the butt of pretty much every motoring-related joke doing the rounds, Hyundai and Kia have long since transformed themselves into genuine alternatives to the establishment from Europe, Japan and the United States, with styling and build quality to rival the best of them. But they have always lacked one very specific attribute: none of them have been particularly entertaining to drive.
It would appear they’re trying to nail that, too, if the Kia Stinger is anything to go by, or this, the latest model from Genesis, which is Hyundai’s standalone premium brand. While it’s a pity that companies feel the need to distance themselves from their humble origins to appease the vanity of automotive snobs, so far Genesis has been busy with a charm offensive that’s working. Its cars are genuinely desirable and they’re beginning to appear with increasing frequency in all the “right” places.
Having already poked the eyeballs of the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series with its G90, and the E-Class and 5 Series with the G80, the G70 has the C-Class, 3 Series and a whole host of other talent in its sights. Which means it needs to be a decent steer with dollops of that (so far) elusive dynamism. That it shares its platform with the aforementioned Stinger is, then, an excellent start.
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In my test example, a G70 Sport, there is a turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 producing a decent 370hp, sending out 510Nm via an eight-speed, four-wheel-drive transmission. Altogether this translates into a top end of 270kph and a claimed 0-to-100 sprint time of a 4.7 seconds – not exactly to be sniffed at and quicker than an M3. The Middle East also has a 252hp, 2.0-litre blown four-pot available, but it’s the V6 that’s grabbing the headlines, so junior will have to shine some other day.
Visually there’s a lot going on, especially at the front end, but it appears less busy when you see it for real. A tad generic, perhaps, but it’s a handsome machine that grabs attention from onlookers, who generally appear impressed, while perplexed about what it is they’re staring at. Slip inside and it’s obvious that someone in Seoul has been drooling over the online Bentley configurator, because there’s acres of supple, diamond-stitched, quilted-leather upholstery – and the effect is suitably upmarket. There’s tech aplenty, too, with configurable displays and extensive menus.
As for driving satisfaction, the G70 has been extensively developed at the Nurburgring, but tipping the scales at 1,820 kilograms, couldn’t the V6 be accused of being a bit of a chubster? Fret not, because Hyundai/Kia, knowing full well that dynamism has so far been in short supply, have poached talent from BMW’s revered M Division, and that has ensured there’s plenty in the G70’s entertainment arsenal.
The silky-smooth V6 revs freely and is nicely vocal in the upper rev ranges, while providing tireless punch when you’re in the mood for a scrap. It feels indecently rapid, with reassuring handling and steering, backed by epic retardation from its Brembo anchors. Undoubtedly it would be even more fun if the twist was being sent exclusively to the rear, but we can expect just such a G70 very soon – at which point Genesis’ trajectory might just have become unstoppable. Make no mistake, this is a truly excellent car.