It’s been a busy year for Genesis.
The Korean upstart only arrived in Europe’s premium segment in May and since then has launched five models and announced plans for another three.
The first four - G70, G80, GV70 and GV80 - are global models, sold in Genesis’s more established markets in Asia, the Middle East and United States as well as the UK and Europe.
But this year’s fifth model is a different story. The G70 Shooting Brake has been designed and developed specifically for Europe, to cash in on the region’s ongoing love for premium estate cars.
The G70 Shooting Brake is based on the existing saloon but heavily reworked to meet the more demanding whims of buyers who would normally be considering a BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant, Mercedes C-Class or Volvo V60.
That reworking is most obvious in the new body shape which extends and enhances the saloon to eye-catching effect.
From every angle the G70 Shooting Brake looks fantastic and draws attention. Big grilles and sleek lines are standard among the G70’s competitors but the inverted triangle of the “crest grille” and the four thin slices of headlight are completely individual. It’s just a shame we have to break up the front with a chunk of numberplate.
The quad light motif is expanded at the rear where not only are the tail lights split vertically but also break horizontally and are incorporated into the angled tailgate with its floating spoiler and large rear screen. This and the elliptical exhuast pipes create an impression of width and a rear profile and light signature unlike anything else in the segment.
Side-on, there are only so many ways you can draw an estate car but Genesis’ designers have done a sterling job of coming up with a low, sporty style where a handful of carefully traced lines give it a slippery pinched-back look without actually sacrificing head room.
The interior is less eye-catching, based as it is on a car that’s now four years old. There is no faulting the quality of materials - including Nappa leather upholstery and aluminium inserts - or the exemplary fit and finish but, compared with German rivals and others models in the Genesis line-up the design feels a little safe and dull.
At 465 litres the boot is smaller than the Audi, BMW or Volvo but behind the powered tailgate is a wide opening and flat, square load space. While there’s plenty of space in the front, the G70 won’t win any awards for rear passenger space, an issue exacerbated by the chunky transmission tunnel.
Engines, performance and driving
Genesis says that it’s not angling to be a sporty brand but the G70 Shooting Brake is clearly its most dynamic model. The car is launching with a 238bhp petrol engine, rear-drive chassis and sport trim level that throws in a limited slip differential. The other options are a 192bhp version of the turbo petrol or a 2.2-litre diesel and “luxury” or “premium” trims.
While it’s not a proper performance car, the G70 Shooting Brake does manage to inject a bit of fun on more interesting roads. It’s definitely a more lively and involving chassis than an A4 Avant, with more steering feel and the benefits of being driven from the rear. On winding mountain roads it proved agile and responsive, although I’m not sure it’s quiet up there with a 3 Series Touring or Jaguar XE.
Thankfully, with the focus on being a luxurious premium brand, Genesis has spent time tuning the suspension for European and UK roads. The G70 Shooting Brake gets unique components and calibration that allow for an impressively composed ride. Sport and Luxury line models get adaptive dampers and while Sport mode’s firmer setup degrades the ride a little it is still impressively comfortable.
It’s a shame, then, that the engines feel less premium. LIke so many turbocharged four-cylinder units, the G70’s 2.0-litre petrol lump sounds and feels like it’s working hard to produce that 238bhp. Even at a cruise it’s audible and the “enhanced” note in sport mode is actively unpleasant. Performance is decent - 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds - although the tranmission works better when plodding along than when asked to get all that power down in a hurry.
The 197bhp/325lb ft diesel is similarly coarse. It’s not bad and performance is perfectly acceptable but it feels relatively unrefined against the super smooth and quiet four-cylinder diesels coming out of Germany these days.
Price, specification and ownership
Up against such strong established rivals, Genesis is trying to make the G70 Shooting Brake and its other models stand out through the buying and ownership experience.
Rather than a traditional dealership model, Genesis handles all sales directly with a fixed pricing structure, limited trim and options packages and the Genesis five-year care plan that covers warranty, servicing and courtesy car.
It also claims to save customers time and stress by bringing the service to them. Potential buyers can order a test car to their door and for servicing and repairs owners can have their vehicle collected and returned when and where they want.
The fixed pricing approach means the G70 Shooting Brake starts at £33,100 for the Premium Line with the 2.0T petrol. The diesel is an extra £2,800. Luxury and Sport Line both only come with the higher powered “Petrol Plus” or the diesel, and are the same price regardless of engine at £38,550 and £39,750.
All models come with an ADAS suite that includes adaptive cruise, lane keep assist and advanced forward collision warning. Auto LED dipping headlights, 18-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, reversing camera, keyless entry and start and dual-zone climate control are also standard fit. However, if you want leather upholstery, heated seats or adaptive dampers you’ll need to step up to Luxury spec. Sport is largely the same as Luxury but adds 19-inch wheels, darker exterior trim and uprated Brembo brakes as well as that LSD.
Options are split into Innovation, Convenience and Comfort packs that add features such as a 12.3-inch 3D digital instrument panel, head-up display, heated rear seats, electric side bolsters, along with wheel, leather and stereo upgrade options.
The G70 Shooting Brake’s starting price undercuts every rival except the most basic A4 and even in top-spec it’s cheaper than an equivalent BMW or Mercedes while matching them for quality and equipment.
So it offers good value and a different approach to the buying and ownership experience that will appeal to many. It also has what it takes to compete on style and build quality and it drives well too, it’s just the lacklustre engines that let it down.
Genesis G70 Shooting Brake 2.0T Plus Luxury
Price: £38,550; Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol; Power: 238bhp; Torque: 260lb ft; Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; Top speed: 146mph; 0-62mph: 6.4 ; seconds; Economy: 31.5-33.1mpg; CO2 emissions: 93.7-204g/km