Genesis has unveiled its latest model, the G70, in a move that will see Hyundai's nascent upmarket brand further challenge Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz for premium sales in selected markets from late 2017.
The distinctively styled saloon, on display at the LA motor show, will initially be denied from the UK, but Autocar can confirm that Genesis is working to introduce various models to European markets, including Britain, by the end of 2021.
“We’re aware of the potential of the UK market, but the focus right now is further establishing the Genesis brand in Korea, the US and China. Our longer-term strategy calls for Genesis to be present in Europe, but it will take a little time before we are ready,” says Soo Kim, head of product planning for the G70.
Conceived as a direct competitor to the A4, 3 Series, Q50, XE, IS and C-Class, the G70 will offer three turbocharged engines when sales begin, including a headlining 3.3-litre V6 petrol and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol unit, as well as a 2.2-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel, in both rear and four-wheel drive.
Revealed at a media presentation held in the Korean car maker’s new design studio at its Namyang research and development centre on the outskirts of Seoul, the G70 rides on a newly developed rear-wheel-drive platform, elements of which are shared with the recently introduced Kia Stinger.
In range-topping 3.3-litre V6 petrol guise, which produces 365bhp and 383lb ft of torque, the four-wheel-drive G70 Sport AWD is claimed to outperform the highly regarded BMW 340i xDrive for straight-line speed, with an official 0-62mph time of 4.7sec and a 168mph top speed. The engine channels its power through a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic gearbox.
By comparison, the 340i xDrive uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine with 321bhp and 332lb ft of torque. It also uses an eight-speed automatic for an official 0-62mph time of 4.9sec and limited 155mph top speed.
The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder delivers 252bhp and 265lb ft in standard guise and a more powerful 255bhp with the same 265lb ft when combined with an optional Sport Package – the latter being 3bhp and 7lb ft more than the similar-sized turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol used by the 320i.
Also available in selected markets is a turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine. With 202bhp and 332lb ft, it outpunches the smaller turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel used by the BMW 320d by 12bhp and 37lb ft.
However, Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald insists the focus for the new model is less about all-out performance and more about delivering first-class customer satisfaction. “Ever since we launched the Genesis brand, we have continued to seek innovation. We want to lead the market as a latecomer; we are working to ensure Genensis’ competitive edge in safety, design, technology and comfort,” he says.
Fitzgerald’s comments are backed up by the latest JD Power Initial Quality Study, which put Genesis at the top of 13 brands in the premium segment.
At 4685mm in length, 1850mm in width and 1400mm in height, the latest Genesis model is 61mm longer, 39mm wider and 31mm lower than the 3 Series sedan.
The G70 also receives a wheelbase that is 25mm longer than its key BMW rival at 2835mm. Buyers can choose between standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, with each of the three engines on offer in the domestic South Korean market.
Like all its key premium rivals, the new Genesis model uses a multi-link rear suspension. It is allied to a mechanical limited-slip differential and, in four-wheel-drive versions, a torque vectoring function. Genesis claims a front-to-rear weight distribution of 50/50.
Genesis is out to disrupt the premium brand status quo with a string of new models planned for launch by 2021. Along with the G70, G80 and G90, the brand is also readying a range of SUV models, the first of which was previewed by the GV80 concept at the New York motor show in April. It is planned to form a three-strong line-up of SUVs that will be followed by the upcoming GV70 and GV90.
While the existing G80 and G90 were conceived within Hyundai’s traditional research and development structure, the G70 is the first to reflect design and engineering input from a hand-picked team, including ex-Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke and former BMW M lead engineer Albert Biermann, working under a separate Genesis structure.
Speaking at the unveiling of the G70, vice-chairman of Hyundai Motor Group R&D division Woong-Chul Yang said: “We will continue to focus our efforts on the development and expansion of the Genesis brand.”
Since the introduction of its initial model, the G90, in December 2015 and the launch of its second, the G80, in July 2016, Genesis has sold more than 150,000 cars in both South Korea and the US.