Mercedes-Benz GLC 2020 review
It's the C-Class of Mercedes-Benz's SUVs, that's right it's the GLC, and the new and improved one is here.
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Genesis faces a massive task in Australia, establishing itself as our market’s first Korean luxury player.
A segment primarily dominated by storied European marques, it took Toyota decades to get a foot in with its luxury brand, Lexus, and Nissan will attest to how hard the luxury space is as its Infiniti brand simply couldn’t hold on outside of North America.
After somewhat successfully inching its way into the hire car space with its launch model, the G80 large sedan, Genesis has rapidly expanded to include the core G70 mid-size sedan and GV80 large SUV, and now the car we’re looking at for this review, the mid-size GV70 SUV.
Playing in the most competitive space in the luxury market, the GV70 stands to be the Korean newcomer’s most important model to date, perhaps the first car to really put Genesis front of mind for luxury buyers.
Does it have what it takes? We’re taking a look at the entire GV70 range for this review to find out.
To kick things off, Genesis means business offering curious buyers a stellar value offering for a luxury marque.
The brand brings Hyundai’s mainstream value ethos to a relatively simple three-variant range based on engine options.
Kicking off at the entry-point is the base 2.5T. As the name suggests, the 2.5T is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and is available either as a rear-wheel drive ($66,400 MSRP) or all-wheel drive ($68,786).
Next up is the mid-grade 2.2D four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which is only available as an AWD, wearing an MSRP of $71,676.
The top of the range is the 3.5T Sport, a V6 turbo petrol again only available in AWD. It wears a price-tag of $83,276, before on-roads.
Standard equipment on all variants includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 14.5-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in navigation, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch digital dash, 12-way power adjustable front seats, power adjustable steering column, keyless entry and push-start ignition, plus puddle lamps for the doors.
There is then the choice of three option packs. The Sport Line is available on the 2.5T and 2.2D at a cost of $4500 and adds sporty 19-inch alloy wheel designs, a sport brake package, sportier highlight trims for the exterior, leather and suede appointed seats in a different design, extra interior garnish, and an entirely different three-spoke steering wheel design.
It also adds specific dual exhaust ports and a Sport+ drive mode to the petrol 2.5T variant. Refinements from the Sport line pack are already present on the top 3.5T variant.
Next, the Luxury Package wears a heftier price-tag of $11,000 on four-cylinder variants, or $6600 on the V6, and adds much larger 21-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, Nappa leather quilted seat trim, suede headlining, a larger 12.3-inch digital dash with a 3D depth effect, a head-up display, a third climate zone for rear passengers, smart and remote parking assist, 18-way electrical adjust for the driver’s seat with message function, a 16-speaker premium audio system, reverse maneuvering auto-braking, and heating for both the steering wheel and rear row.
Finally, the four-cylinder models can be chosen with both the Sport and Luxury pack at a cost of $13,000, representing a $1500 discount.
Pricing for the GV70 range places it significantly below its big-ticket rivals spec-for-spec, which come in the form of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC out of Germany, and the Lexus RX from Japan.
The GV70 is stunning. Like its GV80 larger sibling, this luxury Korean makes more than a statement on the road. Its signature design elements have matured into something which sets it, not only far above its Hyundai parent company, but something which is also distinctively unique.
The large V-shaped grille has become a signature of spotting Genesis models on the road, and the twin strip lights which match height at the front and rear draw a strong bodyline across this car’s mid-section.
A wide, muscular stance at the rear alludes to the GV70’s sporty rear-biased underpinnings, and I was surprised to find the exhaust ports which stick out the rear on the 2.5T were not just plastic claddings, but very much real. Cool.
Even the chrome and black garnishes have been applied with notable restraint, and the coupe-like roofline and overall soft edges suggest luxury, too.
It’s tough to do this. It’s tough to make a car with a design which is truly new, distinctive, and communicates both sportiness and luxuriousness in equal measure.
Inside, the GV70 is properly plush, so if there was any confusion as to whether Hyundai can pull of a proper premium spin-off, the GV70 instantly puts them to bed.
The seat trims are plush no matter which grade or option pack is selected, and there are more than generous soft-touch materials running the length of the dash.
Design-wise its leaps and bounds from previous-generation Genesis products, and almost all the shared Hyundai equipment has been replaced by larger screens and chrome embossed switchgear which give the Genesis its own high-end feel and personality.
I'm a fan of the unique two-spoke steering wheel. As the prime touchpoint, it really helps separate luxury variants from sporty ones, which instead get a more traditional three-spoke wheel.
So, is Genesis a genuine premium brand? To me there’s no question, the GV70 looks and feels just as good, if not better in some areas than all of its more established rivals.
The GV70 is as practical as you’d hope. The usual refinements are all present, large door pockets (although I found these to be height limited for our 500ml CarsGuide test bottle), large bottle holders on the centre console with variable edges, a large centre console box with an extra 12V outlet, and a flip-open tray with a vertically-mounted wireless phone charger and dual USB ports.
The front seats feel spacious, with a nice seating position which strikes a good balance of sportiness and visibility. Adjustability is easy from the powered seat to the powered steering column.
The seats are comfortable to sit in, and offer improved side bolstering over previous-generation Genesis products. The seats in the base and Luxury Pack cars I tested could have done with extra bolstering on the sides of the cushion, however.
The large screen has sleek software, and although it sits quite a distance from the driver is still able to be operated via touch. The more ergonomic way to use it is via the centrally mounted dial, although this isn’t ideal for navigation functions.
The positioning of this dial right next to the gearshift dial also leads to some awkward moments where you grab the wrong dial when it comes time to change gear. A minor complaint, sure, but one that could mean the difference between rolling into an object or not.
The dash layout and customisable systems are super slick as we’ve come to expect from Hyundai Group products. Even the digital dashboard’s 3D effect in Luxury Pack equipped vehicles is subtle enough to be non-intrusive.
The back seat has plentiful space for an adult of my size (I’m 182cm/6'0" tall), and the same plush seat trim continues regardless of variant or pack chosen.
I have plenty of headroom despite a panoramic sunroof, and amenity-wise standard fit includes a bottle holder in the door, two coat hooks on either side, nets on the backs of the front seats, and a drop-down armrest console with an extra two bottle holders.
There’s a set of USB ports under the centre console, and every variant also gets dual adjustable air vents. You’ll have to splash out for the Luxury Pack to get a third independently controlled climate zone with rear heated seats and a control panel back there.
To make things easy, the front passenger seat has controls on the side to allow rear occupants to move it if need be.
Boot space comes in at a very reasonable 542 litres (VDA) with the seats up, or 1678L with them folded flat. The space fit our entire CarsGuide luggage set with the seats up with space to spare, although for larger objects you’ll need to keep an eye on the coupe-like rear window.
All variants bar the diesel have space-saver spares under the boot floor and the diesel makes do with a repair kit.
There are two petrol engine options and one diesel engine option in the GV70 range. It’s surprising Genesis has launched a brand new nameplate in 2021 without a hybrid option, and its range appealing to a traditional and enthusiast audience with rear-biased combustion options.
The entry-level choice is a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 224kW/422Nm. No complaints on the power front here, and it can be chosen in either RWD or AWD.
Next up is the mid-grade engine, a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. This engine produces significantly less power at 154kW, but slightly more torque at 440Nm. The diesel is AWD only.
The top-of-the-range choice is the 3.5-litre turbo-petrol V6. This engine looks to appeal to those who may consider performance variants from AMG or BMW’s M division, and puts out 279kW/530Nm, again only as an AWD.
Regardless of which option you choose, all GV70s are automatic by way of an eight-speed (torque converter) automatic transmission.
Standard fully independent sports suspension comes on all variants, although only the top-spec V6 is equipped with an adaptive damper package and a correspondingly firmer ride.
The top-spec V6 as well as Sport Line equipped cars add a sportier brake package, Sport+ drive mode (which switches off ESC) and large exhaust finishes integrated into the rear bumper for petrol variants.
With no sign of a hybridised variant, all versions of the GV70 proved to be somewhat thirsty in our time with them.
The 2.5-litre turbo will consume 9.8L/100km on the combined cycle in rear-drive format, or 10.3L/100km in AWD. I saw over 12L/100km on my testing of the rear-drive version, although it was a short test of only a few days.
The 3.5-litre turbo V6 is claimed to consume 11.3L/100km on the combined cycle, leaving the 2.2-litre diesel as the most fuel efficient of the bunch, with a combined figure of just 7.8L/100km.
I scored much closer to the claim in my time with the diesel model, at 9.8L/100km. In lieu of a stop/start system, the GV70 has a function where the engine can be decoupled from the transmission when the vehicle is coasting.
It needs to be manually selected from the options panel, and I did not test it for long enough to tell if it makes a meaningful impact on consumption.
All GV70s have 66-litre fuel tanks, and petrol variants require a minimum of 95RON mid-shelf unleaded petrol.
The GV70 has a high level of standard safety. Its active suite includes auto emergency braking (works to freeway speeds) which includes pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as a junction assist function.
Lane keep assist with lane departure warning also appears, as does blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse auto braking, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, manual and intelligent speed limit assist, and a surround parking camera suite.
The Luxury Pack adds to this with a low-speed maneuvering auto brake, forward attention warning, and an auto parking suite.
Expected safety items include the regular brake, stability, and traction controls, as well as a generous suite of eight airbags including a driver’s knee and centre airbag. The GV70 does not yet have an ANCAP safety rating.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
Genesis not only brings the mainstream ownership mindset from Hyundai with a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty (with matching roadside assist) but blows competitors out of the water with free servicing for the first five years of ownership.
Yep, that’s right, there’s no cost to service a Genesis for the length of the warranty. You can’t really beat that, especially in the premium space, so full marks it is.
The GV70 needs to visit a workshop once every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first. It’s built in South Korea, in case you were wondering.
The GV70 is accomplished in some areas, but there are others where I was left wanting. Let’s take a look.
First things first, for this launch review I sampled two variants. I had a few days in a base GV70 2.5T RWD, then moved into a 2.2D AWD with the Luxury Pack.
The Genesis is lovely behind the wheel. If it does anything right, it’s the luxury feel of the whole package.
The two-spoke wheel is an awesome touchpoint, and the standard ride on the cars I tested (keep in mind the V6 Sport has a different tune) was excellent at soaking up what the suburbs had to throw at it.
The other thing which immediately took me aback was how quiet this SUV is. It’s damn near silent. It does this through plenty of noise dampening, but also active noise cancellation via the speakers.
This car has an identity crisis, however. While its ride and cabin ambiance nail a luxurious feel, the available drivetrains suggest a sportier bent which just doesn’t come across as clearly.
First, the GV70 doesn’t feel as agile as its G70 sedan sibling. Instead, it has an overall feeling of heft and the softer suspension leads more tilt in the corners, and not as engaging as the engines make it feel in a straight line.
The steering also misses the mark, feeling heavy and a bit dull when it comes to feedback. This is odd because it’s not as though you can’t feel the car respond through the steering, as is the case in some electrically assisted systems.
Instead it's as though there’s enough of an electric tweak to stop it short of feeling organic. Just enough to stop it from feeling reactive.
So, while the punchy drivetrains suggest sports luxury, a corner carver the GV70 is not. It’s great in a straight line though, with all engine options feeling punchy and responsive.
The 2.5T has a deep note to it, too (assisted in its delivery to the cabin by the audio system), while the 2.2 turbo-diesel ranks amongst the most refined diesel drivetrains I’ve ever driven. It’s quiet, smooth, responsive, and ranks up there with VW Group’s very appealing 3.0-litre diesel V6.
It’s not quite that punchy, or as powerful as the petrol options here. Compared to the 2.5 petrol some of the fun is removed from the top-end.
The feeling of weight generates on-road security, which is enhanced in the all-wheel drive cars. And the eight-speed transmission offered across the range proved an intelligent and smooth shifter in the time I spent with the four-cylinder models.
I did not have a chance to test the top-spec 3.5T Sport for this review. My CarsGuide colleagues who did get a go report that the ride from the active dampers is quite firm, and the engine is hugely powerful, but nothing has been done to abate the dull steering feel. Stay tuned for future reviews to get more in-depth on this one.
Ultimately then the GV70 nails the luxury feel but maybe misses the sporty mark on all but the V6. While a little work seems to be required on the steering and to a degree, the ride, this is still a solid debut offering.
If you’re looking for a primarily design-led SUV which marries the ownership and value promise of a mainstream automaker with the look and ambience of a luxury model, look no further, the GV70 hits the mark.
There are some areas where it could improve behind the wheel for those seeking a sportier on-road presence, and it's odd that a brand would launch an all-new nameplate into this space without a single hybrid variant. But fresh metal, with such a strong value proposition, putting the established luxury players on notice, is great.
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