Test Drive: All-New 2018 Genesis G70

Track-ready power is met with a refined sense of elegance in the brand’s sportiest model to date

On the morning of the official unveiling of the Genesis 2018 G70, the South Korean automaker’s neighbor to the north launched a missile over the northern island of Japan and into the sea some 1,200 miles from shore. As the international community watched on edge, Seoul went about its business as usual. On one hand, it’s a testament to the city’s existence in close proximity to an unpredictable state. On the other hand, it’s telling of the country’s commitment to delivering the best no matter the circumstances. During our visit to the Korean capital, the north was no doubt a topic of conversation but it was far from the focus—that was reserved for all-new G70.

Since Genesis is a relative newcomer to the luxury auto world, it’s worth offering some context on the badge to best understand the meaning of the G70 in the brand’s lineup. Born as the luxury division of Hyundai, the brand is quickly establishing an independent presence in the competitive world of luxury cars. Beginning as the name of Hyundai’s luxury sedan—now the G80—in 2008, the brand’s c-suite saloon car the G90 solidified its perspective on passenger-centric perfection. The new G70 Genesis is offering racetrack performance balanced with the refined luxury of its predecessors.

Much of the performance characteristics are thanks to the involvement of the legendary Albert Biermann. The former BMW M Vice President of Engineering joined Hyundai in 2014 and the G70 is arguably the most visceral fruit of his labors. As head of vehicle test and high-performance development at the Hyundai Motor Group, Biermann developed a new take on motoring inspired in part by his new surroundings.

The car is designed to be fun to drive, but that’s not it. Biermann says, “South Korea is the land of the morning calm. Genesis is built on refined performance that meets the beauty and harmony of the countryside. When I’m driving through the mountains at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning as the fog lifts, I’m inspired by the beauty of the country—how it changes through the seasons.”

Behind the wheel of the G70, we were able to experience some of the beauty Biermann alludes to as we passed through Seoul and into the winding mountain roads to Inje Speedium. The G70 comes in three powertrain options, a 3.3L V6 gasoline turbo, 2.0L I4 gasoline turbo and a 2.2L I4 diesel. Naturally, we tested the performance-oriented V6 boasting 370 horsepower and variable ratio steering. The rear-wheel drive luxury sports sedan jumps off the line and threads the needle on even the tightest corners. Living up to Biermann’s balance for performance and luxury, the acceleration and handling are pin-point responsive without feeling overly sensitive.

The G70 is a car that begs to be driven with passion but kindly buttons up when comfort is required over fun. When the G70 is brought up to cruising speed on the highway, the first thing one notices is the quiet and calm of the interior. Unlike some sports sedans in its class, the G70 hums along in near silence—save for the Active Sound Design system. Sound engineers created a hybrid system that blends organic engine aural output with a carefully created symphonic tone. The system adapts to the driving mode, heightening the driver’s connect to the engine in sport mode and tuning it into the background in eco settings.

Equipped with optional premium Napa leather, the G70 furthers its luxury credentials on the inside. The craftsmanship of the interior is replete with details that reveal themselves after some time with the car, such as quilted door panels and metal speaker grills. Compatible with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink navigating the G70’s many features is surprisingly intuitive relative to the learning curve of most contemporary cars. Continuing its commitment to a driver-centric experience, the center console, including an 8-inch touch display, is aimed slightly at the driver. Carrying on one of the G90’s most popular features, the G70 includes the smart posture control system (only available in Korean models for now), where the driver inputs their body measurements and adjusts everything from the seat to the head-up display for ultimate comfort.

From the outside, the G70 strikes a decidedly defiant pose relative to other cars hailing from Korea. Luxury automobiles from the country tend to air on the side of luxurious, rounded affairs that feel more suited to afternoon tea than an afternoon at the track. Yet Genesis made a marked departure with the G70, opting for an aggressive, athletic stance. An elongated hood gives way to a steep drop grill while character lines run from the badge through the sleek side profile into a tastefully tapered rear wing. The G70 presents a look and feel that forces drivers to question their perception of what a Korean car can be. As Biermann reminds us, “performance isn’t limited to Germany.”

The Genesis G70 is set to hit North American and European markets in April 2018 with pricing coming soon.

Images by Hans Aschim