AS WE EXIT our hotel in the 123-story Lotte World Tower, four daytime running lights—the new Genesis signature—wink at us in the early dimness, as if advising us of the three-hour drive ahead.
Our destination: Inje Speedium, a 2.4-mile circuit in the northeastern mountains outside the South Korean capital. Our ride: the all-new Genesis G70 Sport, specifically a twinturbo 3.3-liter V-6 model with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. After running our hands over the G70’s flared hood and creased sides, we climb into the driver’s seat.
Like the body design, the G70’s interior is conventional but well executed with quilted leather upholstery and beautiful aluminum trim. An 8.0-inch touchscreen dominates from its perch atop the dash. Grasping the wheel and moving the stubby shifter into drive, we cross Jamsil Bridge over the Han River and leave town on an expressway. Genesis is making much ado about its Active Sound Design creating “an aural character that reflects the engine load and driving-mode settings.” Departing the city in Comfort mode, we feel isolated from the sprawling Seoul area’s teeming millions. So far this is a quiet car.
Thanks in part to the 365 horsepower generated by the V-6, Genesis says the G70 will go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds in rear-wheel-drive configuration, though our allwheel-drive tester is likely a couple of ticks quicker. There will also be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder model making 249 hp, and the possibility of a six-speed manual
transmission is on many lips. A Dynamic edition is also coming to the U.S. at model introduction with Pilot Sport 4S rubber, torque vectoring, and a limited-slip differential.
To make a bold statement, the G70 sports a large grille of meshing diamonds. An adventurous pair of front-corner air intakes also arrests the eye. Recognizability is a must, and the G70 scores above the 90th percentile on this aspect. There’s no confusing it for an Acura or a BMW. It has some swagger, and it’s the widest car in the segment, we’re told.
Its design is distinctive and correct, with a beautiful sweeping roofline and a touch of felinity in the front threequarters view. Some might snipe about the troublesome chrome chevron on each front fender or the rear view’s suggestion of the Chrysler 200, but the G70 looks expensive and proclaims a broad appeal. Vice president of styling Sang Yup Lee can’t exult in a big breakthrough, but the details are executed with passion. The engineering is substantial, too.
“It’s a very stiff, substantial platform,” says Albert Biermann,
formerly of BMW, who leads the chassis development program. Our urge for spirited driving is kept in check, though, thanks to an expressway jammed with people heading to their ancestral homes to observe seongmyo, the tradition of tidying up the graves of departed loved ones before the Chuseok harvest festival.
While relaxing at the desired rest area at Gwangchiryeong, we try out the back seat and find entry and egress to be tortuous. A Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan seems like a limousine by comparison. It’s also a long reach to close any open door, no matter where we sit. Another of the G70s quirks: The 12-volt battery lurks below the cargo floor (and the extended mobility kit) in the trunk.
This is a driver’s car that is “well harmonized,” Lee tells us. So when we finally get to the Speedium, a wide and rolling circuit with one long straightaway and clusters of linked Kama Sutra-like turns, we’re eager to test the electronically controlled suspension, 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, and dual-piston Brembo brakes.
Turning the rotary knob on the center console, we change the driving mode to Sport, the fourth of five settings, and caress the paddle shifters. Then we stomp on it. The G70 takes off with, ahem, mellow contentment. This is not an edgy car. Sorry, no crackling exhaust here. It isn’t slow by any means—we hit 120 mph on the straight— and it carries a neutral attitude through the corners, but it also rolls like a C-Class and proves more prosecco than tequila.
Ultimately, the G70 is a well-targeted consumer product, a nutritious bar of automotive almonds, chia seeds, and flax. Even lacking traces of bibimbap, it’s tasty nevertheless. AM
THE GENESIS OF A CAREFULLY CONCOCTED SPORT-LUXURY SEDAN
Inje Speedium is “my little Nürburgring in Korea,” says performance boss Albert Biermann. Driving precision and ride comfort were his targets.