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Genesis GV60 test drive | New car reviews 2022 |The Car Expert

Plenty of car buyers likely still do not know what Genesis is all about, less than two years after the Korean premium badge launched onto the UK market, but the G60 is expected to change all that and speed Genesis on the path to recognition as an upmarket sister to Hyundai, just like Lexus is to Toyota.

The GV60 is the first Genesis model designed from the ground up as an electric car, as opposed to the electrified versions of petrol powertrains the brand has offered us so far. It’s closely related to the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, though pitched to attract buyers who might normally be looking at the products of Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

As of December 2022 and after about six months on sale, the GV60 holds an excellent Expert Rating of 80% on The Car Expert’s award-winning Expert Rating Index. However, that’s 4% below that of its effective sister car, the Kia EV6.

What is it?

The GV60 is more than just the first purpose-built EV from Genesis; it represents the direction in design and technology the brand plans. The first Genesis cars were petrol- and diesel-powered, and with not much distinction from other premium fare – you get the feeling that they were mere aperitifs ahead of the GV60’s arrival as the main course of the brand’s future intentions.

The ‘GV’ designation marks the car out as an SUV, though it doesn’t really look like one, more a sportily-styled crossover rather closer to a traditional car than is a typical boxy SUV. The GV60 sits on a brand-new electric platform specifically developed for it and its sisters from Hyundai and Kia, and which we expect will also underpin a whole load of future models coming from the three brands. On offer in this newcomer are a range of power options from potent to very potent, rear and all-wheel-drive and a huge amount of tech.

So the recipe seems to be to take the bang up-to-date mechanics of the Ioniq and EV6, and then add the kind of upmarket luxury one gets in the likes of an Audi, BMW or Jaguar.

First impressions

If the launch models from Genesis struggled for distinction, the GV60 certainly addresses that. It looks like a hot hatch on steroids – while we tend to treat with some scepticism the names manufacturers give to their various design languages, one can accept that the car’s sleek profile, accentuated by the pronounced slope downwards to the rear combined with the window line flicking up to meet it, conforms to what Genesis describes as “athletic elegance…”

Genesis insists it is a luxury, not a performance brand, but the long wheelbase and short overhangs of the G60, that body shape and the standard-fit 19-inch alloy wheels result in a car that one could easily picture as a competition machine – and we haven’t started talking about the powertrains yet… The front end styling is particularly striking, the headlights split by a strong crease which also does a good job of solving an issue several EV makers are struggling with, how to replace the radiator grille you no longer need with something that doesn’t look blunt and dull.

The GV60 paint palette includes a shade called ‘Sao Paulo lime’ which we think ought to come with a pair of sunglasses, but even if you go for one of the more ‘normal’ colours you’ll certainly attract a lot of interest in the car park – this is a distinctive-looking car but in a positive way.

Slip inside and the first impressions are mixed – the surroundings are certainly both plush and very 21st century EV, but you also notice a whole load of buttons to go with the whole load of tech (more on which shortly). Meanwhile a glance in the rear-view mirror shows that the roof spoiler makes it very hard to see what’s behind the car – but Genesis has an option to answer that too, as we shall see…

We like: Purposeful looks, even without gaudy paint finish
We don’t like: Spoiler on steeply sloped rear screen greatly cuts vision out the back

What do you get for your money?

One of the more controversial aspects of the GV60 is its price – yes it’s pitched as a premium car, so you’d expect it to be pricier than its Hyundai and Kia cousins, but some have baulked at the cheapest version starting at £47K, though to be honest this is not that much more than its siblings. Mind you things change markedly when you factor in the extensive choice of options available – the range-topper we tested carries a £65K+ price tag, and that’s before the almost £10K of options ours was fitted with.

The GV60 model range is very simple indeed – there are three models to choose from, Premium with a single rear-drive motor, Sport with motors on both the front and rear wheels and then the range-topping Sport Plus which also has two motors but with more power – quite a lot more power…

Standard equipment on all models does include what you’d expect, such as dual-zone air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera on the 12-inch central infotainment system, plus some you might not, including electric tailgate opening and wireless phone charging.

Going for the upper two levels doesn’t add much apart from the powertrain. You get 20-inch wheels on the £53.6K Sport, and 21-inch versions on the Sport Plus, which also gains an electronic limited slip differential, electronically controlled suspension and more interior plushness.

The safety package is good and the car has earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating – standard equipment includes adaptive cruise control with stop and start, autonomous emergency braking of course with various collision-avoidance features for pedestrians, cyclists, at junctions, even in one’s blind spot.

If you are considering buying one of these cars, however, be aware you could soon balloon your budget by a glance at the options list. The obvious upgrades include a Bang & Olufsen sound system, but even this offers such delights as ‘Active Road Noice Canceling’ – the system emits a tone that reacts with road noise to make both sounds impossible to hear and produce an interior of pure silent calm.

Then there is an ‘Innovation Pack’ with 11 extra safety and assistance systems (including a head-up display, collision avoidance when parking and the ability to remote park), and even such things as digital side mirrors – these replace the side mirror pods with much smaller cameras which cuts drag and aids range, and while the view screens are not that well integrated into the door panels, the view they provide is far superior to a normal mirror. Alternatively one can have an digital rear-view central camera which solves that vision out the back issue.

And it doesn’t stop there – after an hour at the wheel in our test car, the seat suddenly started quite significantly massaging the driver’s lower back, to remove that pain one gets when’s staggering out of the car after a long drive…

Some of the options also verge on the far too practical for the premium market, such as the exterior plug so you can power such things as camping equipment from the car’s battery.

We like: Good safety package, simple trim structure
We don’t like: Amount of money one can easily spend on options

What’s the Genesis GV60 like inside?

Genesis has already built a reputation for the quality of its interiors and that of the GV60 certainly does not disappoint. There’s a lot of leather effect (leatherette in entry-level versions, proper Nappa in the more expensive models) and it’s all extremely well put together. The plastics are of the soft-touch variety and generally when slipping into the GV60 one immediately feels in upmarket surroundings.

A rapid spot is on the flat console between the front seats – behind the rotary dial for the infotainment screen, and where you’d expect the transmission controls to be, is a large, crystal-finish sphere. But press the car’s start button and this immediately rotates through 180 degrees to reveal the familiar Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park controls. Neat design or distraction? Genesis says it’s a safety feature, as it provides an instant indication as to whether the car’s switched on, not so easy in an EV…

The driver’s digital display is matched by the 12-inch infotainment display screen atop the centre console, and all is very clear and easy to see. Mind you as we’ve already stated, there’s a lot of tech available for the GV60 and that is reflected in the number of mostly touchscreen controls one is faced with. Merely getting in and driving the car you feel as if you are not getting the most from it, and that you need a long time with the manual, or with a Genesis expert, to understand it all – Genesis even provides a ‘Top Ten cheat sheet’ to help… Having said that, once you do get used to everything it’s quite intuitive to use, sensibly thought out.

In terms of more basic matters, such as interior space, the GV60 does reasonably well, making good use of the freedom that not having to fit in combustion engine hardware allows. We reckon rear-seat passengers are slightly cosier than in the EV6, but they do get reclining seats, which is a nice touch. Boot space is slightly constrained by the electric hardware underneath though, being wide rather than deep. A capacity of 432 litres with the parcel shelf in place – rising to 1,550 litres with the rear seats folded – is merely adequate compared to rivals.

We like: Bright, spacious and very up-to-date high quality environment
We don’t like: Many controls for a lot of tech – confusing

What’s under the bonnet?

Like most EVs, there’s not really a lot under the bonnet because all the important electrical hardware is spread throughout the chassis – the 77kWh lithium battery pack, for example, sits under the floor, keeping its weight low down for the best handling.

Premium versions of the GV60 come with a rear-mounted motor producing the equivalent of 229hp and 350Nm of torque. They will do the 0-62mph sprint in just under eight seconds and offer an official driving range of up to 321 miles before you need to plug them in. The Sport variant combines a 218hp rear motor and a second one of 100hp between the front wheels – you can crest 62mph in 5.5 seconds but will need to recharge after 290 miles.

Finally there’s the range-topping Sport Plus, which has two identical motors producing a combined 435hp plus 700Nm of torque. But… this model includes a ‘Boost’ button which when pressed pumps power up to 490hp for a maximum of ten seconds – hitting 62mph takes only four seconds with a quoted range of 289 miles.

Battery charging options range up to 350kW, which means an 80% charge takes a less than minutes – hardly time for a coffee, though you will struggle to find a 350kW charger as they’re not a common thing in the UK at present… Charging to 80% using a 50 kW DC charger takes 73 minutes, on a three-pin domestic AC socket to 100% seven hours 30 minutes, so basically overnight.

What’s the Genesis GV60 like to drive?

Driving the GV60 is a relaxing experience if you want it to be. The acceleration is seamless and silent, again if you want it to be, and the car doesn’t wimp out at higher speeds either, pouring on seemingly endless reserves of propulsion. Even the single-motor versions have impressive 50-70mph characteristics, while in the dual-motor models high-speed overtaking is grin-inducing…

Of course – as we were reminded earlier – this car is supposed to be about luxury, not performance, and driving in everyday traffic in a GV60 is an unfussy experience. Three drive modes are on offer, dubbed Eco, Comfort (basically the default) and Sport, and cycling through them shows up significant differences. Comfort mode seems to be very biased to its description, with the response time a little slow if you accelerate hard. For everyday driving you could easily leave the car on Eco, making the most of such areas as the regenerative braking – paddle controls on the steering wheel let you choose the severity of the regeneration when coasting, and as with most EVs driving almost entirely on one pedal is feasible.

Yet you can’t completely get away from that power – remember the innocuous-looking Boost button on the steering wheel of the GV60 Sport Plus? Start accelerating, press the button and the dash goes flame red and counts down from 10 seconds, while you get a kick in the back that reminded the writer of modified cars fitted with nitrous injection years ago… The effect is completed by some electronic ‘performance noise’ which sounds like it’s come straight out of Star Wars… Don’t like this noise? There are other options for you to choose…

Oh yes, the Sport Plus electronics also include a ‘Drift Mode’ which makes it easier for the driver, we are reminded “in the controlled environment of a closed road or race track”, to slide the car through corners Top Gear style. Yes, Genesis, of course it’s all about luxury and not performance…

Ride quality is generally excellent, even in the sportiest version with its big wheels, progress a refined experience with little intrusion from extraneous noises or the crashes of poor surfaces. And in the twisty bits? The GV60 handles pretty well – others perhaps have slightly sharper steering but the Genesis does nothing to unsettle with the entry-level rear-drive models having a slight advantage in turns of turn-in precision over the all-wheel-drive versions, but the latter responding as one would expect with better grip.

We like: Comfortable progress that can turn instantly sporty if desired
We don’t like: Throttle response in Comfort mode could be quicker

Verdict

If the GV60 is the first real example of what Genesis is all about, then we look forward to future cars from this newcomer brand. This is a distinctive car, but in all the right ways, with good looks making the most of the design opportunities offered by the EV format, a real sense of luxury combined with prodigious technology that suits the market it’s pitched at, plus levels of performance that add a real extra level to its promoted DNA.

On the surface it is an expensive newcomer – you can get much of what the car offers for less money amongst even its siblings, but for not that much less money, while the upper-range models compare well with rivals of similar performance. Think of the GV60 as offering all the good bits of the EV6 or Ioniq 5 (and the range of around 300 miles between charges is a particular plus when choosing an EV) but with a whole lot more exclusivity – by choosing either sibling or several of those rivals you won’t be driving a car that is as good to drive and simply be in as it is to look at.

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Key specifications

Models tested: Genesis GV60 168 RWD Single Motor Premium
Price (as tested): £56,865 (including £9,860 of options)
Engine: 168kW electric motor,
Gearbox:
Single-speed automatic

Power: 229 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
Top speed: 115 mph
0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds

Electric range: 321 miles
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: Five stars (Sept 2022)
TCE Expert Rating: 80% (as of Dec 2022)