Wheels (Australia) - - GARAGE - ASH WESTERMAN

THE DRIVER of the white Kia Stinger pulled along­side me in the cafe car park, an ex­pen­sive rac­ing bi­cy­cle fas­tened to racks on his roof. I no­ticed his eyes drink­ing in the pro­file of the Gen­e­sis G70, ad­mir­ing the lus­cious, tri-coat me­tal­lic Ha­vana Red paint and stylish, black-chrome 19-inch wheels. “Nice car, mate; the V6?” he asked. I nod­ded. Then came the kicker: “So you bought the one in the din­ner jacket, eh?”

There was no mal­ice in his quip; more just a joking ob­ser­va­tion that he knew his Stinger and my new long-term G70 were cud­dling Korean cousins.

But hope­fully this bloke is in a mi­nor­ity, be­cause if you’re a com­pany like Hyundai, em­bark­ing on the mon­u­men­tal task of es­tab­lish­ing a global pre­mium brand, you could prob­a­bly do with­out peo­ple as­so­ci­at­ing your de­but sports sedan with the circa-$20K cheaper of­fer­ing from sis­ter com­pany Kia. But did the pedal-push­ing Stinger driver have a point? This G70, which I’ll be run­ning for the next six months, and priced at $79,950 in top-spec Ul­ti­mate Sport guise, does share a plat­form, en­gine, gear­box and plenty of other hard­ware and sys­tems with the two up­per-spec Stingers, priced at $50,190 and $60,790 re­spec­tively. So yes, part of my mission will be to es­tab­lish just how suc­cess­fully the G70 dis­tin­guishes it­self from its group sta­ble­mate. Of greater rel­e­vance, though, given Gen­e­sis’s brand po­si­tion­ing, is how the G70 rates as an own­er­ship/value propo­si­tion com­pared to a BMW 3 Se­ries, Audi A4, or the lo­cal seg­ment king, the Mercedes C-Class.

So how does the Gen­e­sis stand up to the show­room-browser test against the

es­tab­lished Eu­ros? My first im­pres­sions are pos­i­tive, with a cou­ple of caveats. The front seats are bril­liant, with fan­tas­tic ad­justable un­der-thigh sup­port, and their per­fo­rated leather, with red di­a­mond-pat­tern stitch­ing, feels pre­mium, as do the gen­er­ous splashes of alu­minium trim around the log­i­cally laid-out cabin.

Less im­pres­sive is the dinky

8.0-inch mul­ti­me­dia screen and its ba­sic-looking graph­ics. There’s noth­ing wrong with the sys­tem’s func­tion­al­ity, but given how im­por­tant this fea­ture is to buy­ers, es­pe­cially those in the pre­mium seg­ment, I’m mys­ti­fied how Gen­e­sis thought such a bud­get-looking in­stal­la­tion was go­ing to cut it.

In terms of equip­ment, I’m yet to no­tice any­thing miss­ing that I’d con­sider of real value. There’s no auto-park­ing func­tion, which I’d never use, nor any kind of pi­lot-as­sist self-driv­ing sys­tem, which would like­wise be a mere nov­elty item. The stuff I do re­ally care about – a leg­i­ble head-up dis­play with speed-sign recog­ni­tion, heated and cooled front seats, and a bel­ter of an au­dio sys­tem from Lex­i­con, with 660w of am­pli­fi­ca­tion and sub­woofers (mounted here in the floor un­der the front seats) – is all present. The only op­tion for lesser G70 mod­els is a sun­roof; in this spec it’s stan­dard, mean­ing there’s noth­ing for buy­ers to con­sider adding.

First driv­ing im­pres­sion is how well the re­fine­ment brief has been nailed. At idle, the seat cool­ing fans are more au­di­ble than the en­gine, and on the move in nor­mal driv­ing, it re­mains silken and su­per hushed. The cal­i­bra­tion of the eight-speed auto is nicely in­tu­itive in Com­fort mode, and there’s a shed­load of torque – the V6 feels stronger than the fig­ure of 510Nm sug­gests. I’m also cheer­ing that the low-pro­file Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4 rub­ber doesn’t in­ces­santly con­vey ev­ery sur­face im­per­fec­tion into the cabin. The ride has real com­pli­ance and iso­la­tion.

I’m looking for­ward to a full ex­plo­ration of the G70’s sport­ing cred in a few weeks on a drive up to Forster, about 3.5 hours north of Syd­ney, which will take in the bliss­fully bendy Lakes Way. I’m ex­cited not just to have a proper pedal, but also be­cause I’ll be col­lect­ing a very pre­cious bit of cargo. Ac­tu­ally, if Jake and El­wood Blues had a dyslexic brother, he may have even paused to ob­serve, “We’re on a mission from dog…”

It’s early days, but so far life’s a beach with the G70, which is loaded with stan­dard equip­ment – no op­tions in this Ul­ti­mate Sport spec – and packs po­tent V6 twin-turbo punch

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