Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2022 Genesis GV70 luxury compact SUV.
The route taken by the Genesis brand to get to this point in its development is an interesting and not entirely typical one. The Genesis name began life as a nameplate attached to a top-range luxury sedan under the Hyundai banner; then came the creation of a stand-alone marque featuring three sedans, this at a time when SUVs were busy gobbling up market share. Only last year did we see a first utility model from the brand, the midsize GV80.
Throughout, there’s been a lopsidedness to Genesis’ progression; the automaker’s high-quality, value-packed models have racked up tons of awards but sales haven’t necessarily followed in lockstep. The reality is that many luxury-car consumers are loath to give up what comes with a double-kidney grille, four-ring logo or silver star and venture towards a brand that hasn’t had the time yet to build up its own cache. Let’s not forget the brand only turns five years old this coming November.
Hats off to Genesis for sticking to its plan, though. Theirs is a long game. And that game enters an important new phase with the introduction of the 2022 Genesis GV70, the second SUV to appear in the Hyundai-owned brand’s stable. Why important? Because the luxury compact SUV segment is big, with far more potential for reaching new customers than the category the GV80 or any of the brand’s sedans sit it. We recently had occasion to test-drive this high-stakes new model and see if it has what’s needed to make real inroads in its segment.
Inevitably, we compare the GV70 to its larger sibling, the GV80. And we find a model that’s somewhat less square in shape but still an obvious close relative. The styling is absolutely attractive, and Genesis has managed to make this compact SUV distinct from most others already out there, without it being a radical departure. Genesis’ Athletic Elegance mantra is clear, what with the vehicle’s plunging roofline, large front grille, quad lamps and classy, refined back end – on which the Genesis letters are now proudly displayed. It is a wallflower no more, the Genesis brand…
The GV70 actually comes in two main visual iterations, one focused more on elegance, the other on athleticism. Our tester was the Sport’s top-end configuration (with the 3.5L engine – more on that in a bit). That version of the model gets dark chrome accents, longer air intakes, a dark chrome grille, unique wheel design and three-spoke steering wheel and other elements to signal its more-aggressive nature. The other version focuses more on refinement, and so you get metalized accents, refined front air intakes and a less-aggressive overall mien. Either way, there’s much to like about the design of the SUV, and nothing major to dislike.
Genesis also acknowledged that the GV70 is conceived to attract not only new families to the brand, but also more female buyers. From looking at it I’m not sure precisely how the model is designed to do that, but I suppose its rounder edges compared to the GV80 are part of it.
If you were expecting the latest technologies and features in this all-new model, you were absolutely right. The screen is huge at 14.5 inches and a pleasure to use, and there’s an optional 3D data/instrument screen equipped with infrared sensors to monitor the driver's eyes to ensure they’re not closed or wandering off to look at things other than the road. Oh, and there’s a new fingerprint reader for added convenience. What that does is allow each user to retain their preferred settings for any number of elements and call them up without having to go into the screen menu.
Beyond that, you’ll find the usual full list of safety and drive assist features, including rear occupant presence alert with a sensor that can pick up tiny movements like breathing. Also, Genesis touts the central rear row air bag, a first in the segment and which prevents back row passengers from knocking into each other during a collision.
Space-wise, Genesis did a good job adding some room particularly to the back row, which was not a given since the GV70 is based on the same platform as the G70 sedan, not known for its generous rear-row space. Here, with the wheelbase stretched out by some 4 cm, passengers sitting in the back get what you’d expect from a self-respecting compact SUV. Above both rows lords a panoramic sun roof (optional) that boosts the feeling of space even more. The trunk space (816 litres seats up, 1,610 litres seats down) is adequate, on a par with others in the category.
Along with the Sport/Elegance choice, buyers can also, as part of this generally very simple and straightforward product offering, have their pick of one of two powertrains: a 2.5L turbocharged inline-4 (300 hp, 311 lb-ft of torque) or a twin-turbo 3.5L V-6 (375 hp, 391 lb-ft of torque), both working in conjunction with an 8-speed automatic transmission. These engines are the same as found in the larger GV80, so here they deliver more bang for the buck since the GV70 is lighter. In Canada, all versions come standard with all-wheel drive.
The drive mode selector lets you roam between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom (and Sport+ in the Sport versions) to suit your mood or the situation. Not surprisingly, in my case I found Sport to be the sweet spot, as it sets the parameters to provide a bit more growl from the engine and stiffer steering and suspension settings, etc., without making for a hard ride.
We recently also drove the reworked new 2022 G70, and while we expected the GV70 to fall short of that dynamic and exciting compact sedan in terms of the drive it offers, the difference on the road is pretty darn small. It’s easy to forget sometimes how far automakers have come in delivering positive driving experiences in their utility models. The GV70 we drove was the Sport configuration with the larger engine, and we’re looking forward to trying the 2.5L-equipped model just to see the difference, but here anyways the power on display is impressive, more than enough to give the vehicle enormous acceleration power and used to full potential thanks to the excellent transmission that harnesses and manages that power.
While the GV80 betrays its size with some heaviness from the acceleration and steering and only decent agility in cornering, the smaller GV70 makes better use of the available power and delivers nimble performance. Particularly in Sport mode, the steering is tight and gives good feedback from the road, and the gear changes are absolutely spot on. Throttle response is excellent and super-quick, allowing for very strong acceleration from a stop but particularly between 60-100 km/h.
No complaints really regarding the ride quality either. The seating is comfortable and highly adjustable, and the cabin environment is a quiet one at highway cruising speed. As for fuel consumption, my average after a few days of mainly highway driving I sat at 10.8L/100 km, which isn’t earth-shattering but not high enough to be a deal-breaker for most shoppers in this segment. The big advances on this front will come, of course, the day Genesis jumps in with hybrid and eventually all-electric powertrains, but that’s for another day. Note that premium gasoline is required (ie, highly recommended) with each engine available with the GV70.
I mentioned the simplicity of the product offering, which is a Genesis trademark. Thus the Genesis comes well-equipped out of the box and you really don’t need to spend much on extras to enjoy a premium ownership experience. The starting price for the 2022 GV70 base model is $49,000, which includes all shipping and preparation fees, as well as a host of other extras for buyers, including Genesis valet parking, free regular maintenance, Genesis connected services and map upgrades, all for a 5-year/100,000 km term. This variant and the three next above it come with the 2.5L 4-cylinder, and maximum starting price is $63,000.
After that there are the two Sport trims, each getting the V6, and pricing sits at $68,500 and $75,500.
That pricing is in line with premium models on the market, but it’s on the lower end of the spectrum, and it looks even better when you consider that Genesis packs the GV70 with a lot of standard equipment than German automakers make a habit of charging substantial amounts for in their options lists. On the other hand, there’s not yet the same level of cache associated with the Genesis name as with BMW or Lexus or Audi. Up to you to weigh those factors.
Other than that, though, our first encounter confirmed the high level of design, interior and performance quality we frankly expected from a Genesis model. We would have been surprised and disappointed if it were otherwise. That said, the stakes are high for Genesis as it enters a popular but harshly contested segment, and the company’s future fortunes depend a little bit on the curvy shoulders of the GV70.
Ultimately, consumers will be the the ones deciding whether it succeeds on its big bet, but we’re thinking Genesis has a winner on its hands. Now if only there was a confirmed hybrid or a PHEV version on the way, we could be talking about an out-of-the-park moonshot from the Korean automaker.
Attractive exterior design
Comfortable, high-end interior
More than enough power from the V6
All-in, simplified product offering
We like less
Lack of cache makes potential resale value a question mark
We would like to hear at least some conversation about hybridity