Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 2016 review
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Infiniti Q50 Red Sport with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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Just imagine the kind of haughty laughter pouring out of certain German and Japanese boardrooms when Hyundai first announced it would be gunning for premium customers with its Genesis sub-brand.
To be fair, there was a time when their mirth might have been justified. But that was the before times. Before BMW’s vice-president of engineering, Albert Biermann (a 32-year Beemer veteran, with much of that time spent leading the brand’s fabled M Division), defected to Hyundai to sprinkle his excitement dust over the model range.
So while this all-new G70 sedan is technically the third Genesis product (following the G90 and G80), it’s the first to really have both Donckerwolke and Biermann's fingerprints all over it, debuting the brand's new design language, as well as this new found passion for dynamics and performance. It's also to be launched in Australia as a stand-alone Genesis, with the brand ditching the Hyundai part for all models moving forward.
And something tell us those same premium-brand executives won't be laughing quite so loudly now.
|Genesis G70 2018: 2.0t|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded|
|Price from||No recent listings|
The G70 is the first in a fleet of new-look Genesis product, previewing the brand’s new design language that will appear on almost all future products.
Yes, it lacks the understated elegance on offer from the best of the Germans, but the G70 looks good from plenty of angles, not least of which being the rear three-quarter view (there's a vaguely BMW-ish vibe to it), with its muscular rear guard shadowing big, 19-inch alloys. From that angle, it looks tough and purposeful and premium.
The front, though, is… less resolved. It’s not unattractive, per say, just busy, with a huge and hugely complex grille, dual vertical strips of LED lighting that frame each headlight (you’ll find them at the rear, too, part of the Genesis Quad DRL design signature) and lashings of silver trimmings all competing for your attention.
Climb inside, and you’ll find a really well-crafted interior, with a creative use of materials (pleated leather on the door trims, metal trimming on the driving controls, aluminium on the door handles) blending seamlessly with the soft-touch materials lining the dash and central storage units.
Audi is the near-undisputed interior champion in the segment, and while the Genesis cabin isn’t quite up to those standards, it’s a well-made space and one that definitely feels premium.
Just like a real estate purchase, the G70 is all about the location, location, location.
Front-seat riders have plenty of room to move about, and will share a pair of cupholders, along with room in each door for bottles. Up-front tech is covered by a USB, aux-in and power source connection, all neatly hidden behind a little folding cover.
For mine, there is a slight weirdness to the driving position, like the seat - even in its lowest position - is a fraction too high, and the steering wheel a touch too low. It's not even approaching a deal breaker, just a quirk that you'd have to get used to.
The backseat, though, is considerably tighter than the front. The 4685mm long, 1850mm wide and 1400mm high G70 actually offers good knee and head room (well, behind my 5ft 10inch driving position, at least) but weirdly, it’s toe room that lets it down, with your feet always crammed in under the seat in front.
There’s no way you're fitting three adults across the back, either, with the middle seat a strict in-case-of-emergencies offering, compounded by a raised tunnel that erodes the middle rider’s leg room. But backseat riders get their own vents (but not temperature controls), and there’s room in each rear door for a bottle, along with two cupholders housed in the pull-down seat divider.
Ah, that’s the great unanswered question. With the G70 still some months away from its Q1, 2018 launch, Hyundai is keeping mum on pricing. That said, the smart money would suggest the G70 entry point will be around the $50k mark, and that it will climb to around $75k for the top-of-the-range offering.
That would make it very cheap, comparatively speaking. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class - which dominates the premium mid-size segment - starts at $61,900, while BMW’s 3 Series kicks off at $57,300. Even fellow challenger brand Infiniti prices its entry-level Q50 at $53,900.
The G70 will be offered with two engines across three yet to be named trim levels, and while full specification details are thin on the ground, much was made of the Nappa leather seats (that are both heated and cooled), inductive phone charging, head-up display and 15-speaker Lexicon stereo at the car’s unveiling. How much of that will arrive as standard on each of the three trim levels, however, remains to be seen.
That said, Hyundai more broadly has some form when it comes to standard inclusions, and considering the strength of the competition, we’d be shocked to discover the cheapest G70 was anything resembling a stripped-out unit. Take this from Hyundai Australia COO Scott Grant: "Obviously we will not command any form of price premium for some time - if ever - as a fast-follower and a brand that’s yet to prove its credentials."
The smallest engine, a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit, will generate 190kW and 353Nm, and will pair with the only gearbox on offer, an eight-speed torque converter automatic, channeling power to the rear wheels. Hyundai is yet to talk performance figures for its smaller engine.
Adaptive dampers and dynamic torque vectoring will appear on V6-powered models.
The most powerful variant shares its 3.3-litre bi-turbo V6 with the incoming Kia Stinger, punching out 272kW and 510Nm - enough to propel the G70 to 100km/h in a brisk 4.7 seconds, and push it on to a flying top speed of 270km/h.
It shares its key performance components with its Stinger sibling, too, so expect the same mechanical limited-slip differential on all grades, while adaptive dampers and dynamic torque vectoring will appear on V6-powered models.
Official fuel use figures and C02 figures for Australian standards are yet to be confirmed, but a quick calculation of the international numbers should see the V6-powered Genesis return somewhere around 11.1L/100km on the claimed/combined cycle. The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine should see that number drop to around 9.6L/100km.
There’s a definite weirdness in preparing to unleash a Genesis on a racetrack. This is the Genesis, after all, makers of the soon-to-be-replaced G80 full-size sedan and the overseas-only G90 limousine. And you’re about as likely to see those two belting out hot laps at a local track day as you are to find Phil Collins singing in the boot.
But this is a Genesis like none to have gone before it, and words like “sporty”, “athletic” and even “Nurburgring" swirl around the launch event like cannon-fired confetti. And while Albert Biermann himself concedes the G70 isn’t an “extreme performance car”, he promises it can hold its own on a racetrack.
First, though, a caveat. We’ve only driven the AWD version of the 3.3-litre twin-turbo model, and are yet to sample Australian-spec cars, which will be rear-wheel-drive only, offer a different suspension and steering tune, and will be riding on different (read: better) rubber. And so, consider this a kind of peek into the basics of the G70 range, which is still very much a work in progress in for Australia.
Fortunately, the one thing that absolutely won’t be changing is what lies under the bonnet, and that rich V6 an absolute treat, serving up its power in this thick, smooth rush, and with no noticeable lag or delay.
On the open road, the eight-speed gearbox is silken in its operation, though the lack of a true manual seems a strange oversight.
For even the most ardent of doubters, this engine will be very convincing. It makes forward progress truly effortless, and there’s no harshness to it, either. Save some tyre noise on certain road surfaces, the cabin is stays calm and quiet. Until you plant your right foot, at which point the exhaust note (albeit one that’s been cooked up in Hyundai’s sound lab) enters the cabin, underscoring the performance with a muted-but-growling thrum that once again feels very un-Genesis.
On the open road, the eight-speed gearbox is silken in its operation, though the lack of a true manual model in a performance-flavoured model (and one with wheel-mounted shift paddles) seems a strange oversight, with the gearbox slipping back into automatic mode when you take control via the paddles.
The gearbox is less convincing on the track, occasionally confusing itself in automatic mode, but again, it’s not intended to be a track-day weapon. The four-wheel-drive cars we tested, though, feel heavy, as, though the vast bulk of the G70’s circa-1.8-tonne curb weight is hovering over the front end, the front tyres squealing in outrage before abandoning grip should you push the G70 too hard.
The ride - which admittedly will be overhauled by Hyundai's local team by the time the car arrives; a process that has already begun - is pillow-soft in in its most comfortable setting, soaking up road bumps and disposing of them before they enter the cabin. The problem is, it retains some springy bounce even when the adaptive dampers are locked into their sportiest setting. Which is something Biermann himself recognises works for the Korean market, but less so internationally, and we'd expect Australian cars to feel significantly firmer.
But here’s the rub, Australia’s cars will be lighter, rear-drive vehicles, and Hyundai Australia’s local suspension and steering tuning work has already begun. The briefest track test of a similarly specced rear-drive Genesis on offer revealed an almost completely different car; lighter, nimbler and more communicative than the all-wheel-drive vehicles. Hyundai Australia has made the right call there.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
While safety specifics are yet to be confirmed, expect AEB with pedestrian and bicycle detection, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera to form the base of the standard features list, joining the usual suite of traction and stability assistance systems.
A five-year warranty with capped-price servicing will give the Genesis the strongest ownership equation in its segment, and with Hyundai Australia's plan to offer free servicing throughout the warranty period, the G70 will take some beating on the after-sales front.
Forget what you think you know about Hyundai: the Genesis G70 is a very convincing premium product, and one that’s far more fun behind the wheel than you might expect.
Will it have the Germans climbing the walls in terror? Not quite. But it will absolutely have Lexus, Infiniti and Jaguar looking over their shoulders.
Badge snobbery can be a tough mountain to climb, though, but sharp pricing and a seriously good ownership program will surely help.
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|