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Hyundai luxury brand’s UK launch continues with a rear-driven executive saloon

The main question with any new model from a new brand like Genesis inevitably is: what is it?

With the G70, Hyundai’s premium luxury spin-off brand wants to take the fight to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. So the short answer is ‘a compact executive saloon’, but it appears that even Genesis itself has gone back and forth on what exactly it wants the G70 to be.

Thin, quad LED lights front and rear are a Genesis signature, and much more distinctive than the pre-facelift car’s more traditional projector items. You will need the Innovation Pack for these matrix LED headlights

You see, even though it is introduced as an all-new car over here, it is actually a facelift – albeit a pretty major one – of the G70 that was introduced in the US in 2018. That was very clearly positioned as the keen driver’s choice, even offering the option of a manual gearbox, which, especially in the US, still shows you’re serious about appealing to the driving enthusiast.

The trouble is, making a car with a dynamic chassis that appeals to the driving enthusiast is by no means a guarantee of commercial success: just ask Alfa Romeo and Jaguar how the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE are doing. Consequently, Genesis’s other offerings in Europe, such as the Genesis GV80 SUV we road tested in September, have been positioned squarely in the luxury corner.

As the G70 undergoes our full road test, we ask whether it has the ultimate luxury to trouble the C-Class or the poise to out-handle the 3 Series, or indeed whether it will be filed under ‘likeable also-rans’ with the Giulia and XE.

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The G70 line-up at a glance

Genesis doesn’t do hybrids and plans to stick with petrol and diesel until it can go fully electric. As such, G70 buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre petrol, which comes with two different power outputs, and a 2.2-litre diesel. There are three trim levels, or ‘lines’: Premium, Luxury and Sport.

The low-output petrol engine can only be had with Premium Line, while the higher-output petrol demands at least Luxury Line. All come with the same in-house eight-speed torque-converter automatic.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Genesis G70

Genesis G70 First drives