First Drive: 2022 Genesis GV70

First Drive: 2022 Genesis GV70

The interior is perhaps the GV70’s most jaw-dropping quality.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Genesis. And while building up a luxury nameplate from scratch is a long and arduous process, playing in the right segments goes a long way — and if you want to take a bite out of the luxury segment, there’s nothing you need more than a small (and fancy) sport-ute. Enter the 2022 Genesis GV70.

Hyundai’s budding upstart in the luxury segment may have cut its teeth on some truly compelling sedans since its launch in 2017, but that isn’t what most customers actually want these days. They want to sit up high, be coddled, and look good while doing so. It may have taken them a while, but with the GV80 launching earlier this year, Genesis is wising up to this: sedans are (kind of) out, crossovers and SUVs are in, and ignoring that would be marketing suicide. 

Joining the GV80, its big brother, the GV70 is Genesis’ second SUV ever — better late than never, right? Pop the hood and you’ll find hand-me-downs from its big brother: Genesis’ 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, comes standard. If our experience with the four-cylinder G80 is any indication, this “base” engine ought to be more than enough for 99.9 per cent of GV70 buyers, offering more power than its key competitors and a surprising degree of smoothness.

But if you find yourself in that point-one per cent slice where you absolutely must have the biggest engine and the most power you can get, Genesis is also offering its 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6. Rated at 375 horsepower and 391 lb.-ft. of torque, it’s competitive if not class-leading: BMW’s X3 M40i and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 pack more power, but the GV70 with the six does have more kick than the Audi SQ5 and Porsche Macan S

It’s also a sweetheart of an engine that’ll get you into trouble very quickly; we were immediately smitten by its near-instantaneous thrust, and even the subtle roar under full throttle. Both the four- and six-cylinder GV70 are paired to an eight-speed automatic, a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system is standard across the lineup and the top-dog GV70 with the V6 gets an electronic limited-slip differential out back. 

On the road, the GV70 comes together almost as flawlessly as you’d expect. Merging and passing is absolutely effortless, the smart eight-speed automatic is equally willing to deliver snappy shifts or fade into the background on longer and more mindless drives, and the suspension does a formidable job at smoothing out potholes, expansion joints, and rough pavement while keeping wind and road noise to a minimum. Perhaps our only nit to pick is with this full-jam GV70’s suite of active safety kit: it works well most of the time, but the lane-centering function sometimes nudges you back into the middle of the lane — even with the turn signal activated. It’s almost as though this system thinks it knows better, but mercifully, this robotic intervention can be disabled with a tap of a button. Those robots didn’t stand a chance.

It’s difficult to evaluate something as subjective as looks, but whereas others in the compact luxury segment are an overstyled mess of creases, angles, and oversized grilles, the Genesis GV70 counters with decidedly simpler and more flowing sheet metal. And where others in the segment tend to look like scaled-down Xerox of their bigger siblings, the GV70 bears a familial resemblance — the split headlights and tail lights, pentagonal grille, and so-called “G-matrix” pattern that seems to be everywhere on this thing — to the GV80 but doesn’t come across as a Mini-Me. Bonus points for the D-pillar inspired by the Porsche 928, and the colour selection that includes options beyond the standard (and boring) whites, greys, and blacks. 

The interior is perhaps the GV70’s most jaw-dropping quality. It’s a class-act all around with top-shelf materials and excellent fit-and-finish, comfortable ergonomics regardless of where you sit, and like the exterior, a diverse colour palette. Our particular 2022 Genesis GV70 was finished in a fetching dark blue with red accents, and it’s all tied together by soft leather, bright metallic, and checkered carbon fibre accents that all somehow work well together. Infotainment is handled by a standard 14.5-inch display atop the dashboard, followed by an intuitive mix of physical and digital switchgear handling climate controls. 

Perhaps the only gimmick is the 3D instrument cluster you get on full-jam GV70s; we’re a bit puzzled by its usefulness beyond “looking cool”, but in the same breath, we’ll admit the 12.3-inch all-digital panel boasts crisp graphics and is fairly easy to configure. Oh, one more bone to pick: Genesis’ infotainment is fairly intuitive, but the rotary knob needs a rethink. It’s much improved over the G80 and GV80’s slippery iPod-like click-wheel, but on more than one occasion, we found ourselves fiddling with sub-menus instead of shuffling through reverse and drive while parking on the street, or performing a three-point turn. When you’re blocking traffic, the last thing you want to do is change the radio station. 

The GV70 is competitively priced within the segment, starting at $49,000 for the base 2.5T Select with AWD, but even then, “base” is a relative term: it comes standard with pretty much all the active safety features you can expect these days, along with LED lighting all around, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, and a power liftgate, among other goodies. The cheapest way to get the twin-turbo V6 is the 3.5T Sport at $68,500, while our particular tester, the full-jam 3.5T Sport Plus, will run you about $75,500. 

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’ll be a while before Genesis can rule the luxury segment. But as long as the hits keep coming — and the 2022 Genesis GV70 has the goods to be a home run — that moment will be here sooner than we think.

See Also:

First Drive: 2022 Genesis G70

2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC+

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