The battleground for best medium SUV above $60,000 has never been more fiercely contested or interesting. Not only are there the expected stalwarts of Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, but many electric-only nameplates including the number-one selling Tesla Model Y make up an equal portion of the list.
Introduced in 2021, the Genesis GV70 wowed many with its distinctive design and a new take on luxury by Hyundai’s luxury marque. A look over the July 2023 VFACTS report shows that sales are up 118.5 per cent year to date. This could be helped in no small part to the recently introduced Genesis GV70 Electrified variant, and loosening production delays.
With 634 units vs 312 in 2022, it is a solid-enough sales performer to embed itself as a true contender. We borrowed the GV70 in second-tier 2.5T AWD guise, with the $13,000 Luxury & Sport Line trim packages to investigate.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Specifications
Engine: 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder
Output: 224kW@5800rpm / 422Nm@1650-4000rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×8.0, 235/55 (21s fitted)
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1973kg
Power-to-weight: 8.80:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 10.3L/100km
Our consumption: 11.2L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 66L/95 RONPower efficiency: 21.74kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.19 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.52 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.37 seconds*
1/4 mile: 14.71 seconds at 157.7km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.847g*
100-0km/h braking: 37.86m in 3.03 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.433g*
Decibel at idle: 44*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 86*
Starting price: $72,900
*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: How much does it cost?
The most affordable way into a 2023 Genesis GV70 is the $70,900 2.5T RWD (before on-road costs), before adding matt paint ($2000 – the Brunswick Green of our test car is no longer listed on the local official website).
It still gets heated and ventilated front seats, biometric fingerprint recognition, 14.5-inch infotainment system, eight airbags, panoramic sunroof, and Nappa leather and wireless charging. If you want all the fruit, you’ll have to spring for the Luxury and Sport Line, which at $13,000 extra includes: ‘Ergo Motion’ massage chair, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, active parking with the ability to summon the car remotely, intricately patterned 21-inch wheels, HUD and a 16-speaker Lexicon sound system that will leave your ear canals gushing with pleasure as you listen to your favourite sonata. All-wheel drive, as with our test car, adds another $2000.
If the (still potent) 224kW/420Nm 2.5-litre engine isn’t to your satisfaction, perhaps you’d prefer the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6, also seen in the G70, Kia Stinger, as well as bigger brother GV80. With 280kW and 530Nm, it pushes the price tag up to a whisker over $100k, or just under with a non-matt colour.
If you want more grunt still with green credentials, then perhaps the Genesis GV70 Electrified is more your forte at an eye-watering $127,800. Bear in mind, the performance makes up for the price, with a sub 4-second 0-100km/h sprint and up to 360kW.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Interior & packaging
Pull open the bank-vault heavy door and there is a sumptuous smorgasbord of serenity to drink in, with some technical modernity. Visually, your eyes are drawn to the horizontal line atop the dash which borders the interior and creates a structural element. The way it seamlessly incorporates the air vents is masterful, with the main highlight being the oval theme encapsulating the HVAC controls and extending towards the driver.
Attention to detail isn’t just in the bigger design elements. It’s in the satisfying feel of the knurled edged indicators, the illumination for light settings, and the tactile satisfaction from the climate control buttons. The stitching across the cabin feels premium, adding to the vehicle’s genuinely luxurious credentials. When your fingers graze the mesh on the door speakers or the subtle open-pore wood trim on the centre console, there’s a palpable sense of luxury.
There’s even a closable compartment for your mobile phone, which, charges wirelessly while casting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to the 14.5-inch-wide screen. Speaking of that screen, clarity, ease of use and visual grandeur (sorry Genesis) are always stellar.
Using the integrated navigation system shows the augmented reality, which is not only breathtakingly cool, but genuinely helpful for people who sometimes find themselves in the wrong lane at turn-offs. This is worth the price of admission alone. Some manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz have managed this on the HUD, but it works perfectly fine on the screen.
We also enjoy the capacious centre console, seat adjustability and the effectiveness of the body-balance massage to stave off fatigue over long trips. The interplay between the ambient lighting and the 3D pattern on the doors and centre console in accordance with the settings (with 11 different colours available) is also a visual feast.
The only negatives we find are the cupholders on the far side, making it possible to spill coffee when reaching up and over to your mouth, and the similarity between the HMI controller and the gear selector, resulting in a few heart-in-throat moments from this reviewer when reaching down in the hopes of adjusting the former.
Ergonomically it’s also distracting to tune the radio, as this is buried in the menu and always defaults to DAB rather than FM – which is patchy once you get away from the city, so you really need to familiarise yourself with this before you set off.
In terms of packaging, a length of 4715mm, width of 1910mm, height of 1630mm with a 2875mm wheelbase imbues the GV70 with generous proportions for its class. The (electrically operated) boot varies in capacity from 542L to 1678L with the seats erected and folded, respectively. With a braked towing capacity of 2200kg, it is suitable for towing a decent camper trailer or mid-size caravan.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Powertrain & handling
The GV70’s 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes its peak power figure of 224kW at 5800rpm, but the prodigious torque output comes on song from as little as 1650rpm. Just as well, considering the 1973kg (tare) heft of the thing. You wouldn’t know it’s a four-cylinder from its quietness and smoothness, though. Response is admirable and a 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds is quoted. The best we achieved was 6.52 seconds using the Vbox.
The flip-side to this is an official average fuel consumption figure of 10.3L/100km, which while on par with what we achieved during test, is a bit on the heavy side. In our opinion, a hybrid or mild-hybrid would be a better entry-level option as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and now Mazda all offer significantly lower fuel consumption on their entry and intermediate level rivals. It’s worth mentioning the RWD version consumes less, at 9.8L/100km.
A 66L fuel tank (requiring 95-RON petrol) provides insufficient cross-country range, unless you’re cruising predominantly at freeway speeds. In defence to Genesis, it does provide a coasting and stop-start function to help manage consumption.
Four driving modes are available: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport +, adjusting steering, suspension settings and sharpness of the throttle, denoted by a change in colour and effect on the 3D-capable instrument cluster.
Refinement-wise, this is an exceptionally smooth, solid-feeling and accomplished cruiser. It is really in its element here and up there with the best of them.
When the road starts becoming twisty and challenging, the GV70 is certainly poised and capable at tackling the most challenging of these, with the capability and effortlessness you’d expect from a bespoke, premium RWD architecture. However, it doesn’t offer the kind of involvement and tactile reward of say, a BMW X3. It can feel quite heavy leaning into medium-sharpness bends, at which point the steering engagements seems to trail off a bit.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Key attractions/reasons to buy
This luxury SUV will appeal to affluent customers looking to differentiate themselves from the default German (or even Japanese in the case of Lexus) choices. It has a very innovative and alluring design both inside and out, with some echoes of the Porsche 928 in the C-pillar treatment.
This is a product that is unapologetically Korean in its style and execution. Everywhere you look or touch inside feels utterly premium. It’s not hard to see why sales are on the up-and-up compared with this time last year.
Furthermore, a service package which includes free servicing for up to five years/75,000km is another reason it is a compelling choice. Other premium marques can charge you thousands extra for such a service package. Here, it is included as standard.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Key considerations before you buy
There’s precious little to recommend against this really, other than it not being the sharpest to drive in its class dynamically and the fuel consumption being on the high side for a four-cylinder. We’d like a bigger fuel tank and at least a mild-hybrid option for the entry level model.
That should not be enough to discourage you from taking a look at this superbly well-executed premium mid-sized SUV though. It should be on your shortlist as one to investigate with serious thought.
2023 Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD Sport: Video
How does it rate against its rival?
The after-sales care and distinctive design give this SUV an attractive edge over its common rivals. Build quality and attention to detail are also at a very high level. We’re not sure this 2.5T powertrain is the pick, though. It’s a bit slow and uses too much fuel compared with other four-cylinder competitors. Try out the twin-turbo V6 if you can stretch to that price point.