It’s anybody's guess how the BMW 3 Series has prospered as long as it has while hauling a target that can be seen from space.
From Jaguar’s XE to generations of assailants from Infiniti and Lexus, they’ve all tried to hit the 3 Series bullseye and failed. Its only consistently successful foes have been the fellow Germans, the Audi A4 and the booming Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
But there’s about to be a new player in the mid-sized premium sports sedan market and it feels a lot more Bavarian in its engineering than other pretenders to the throne, delivering a level of interior quality and comfort that is at least on a par with the C-Class.
We’ve only driven the 3.3-litre, twin-turbo V6 version, but the warning signs are clear: if Genesis gets its brand building right, both here in Australia and globally, then there’s no engineering reason its G70 won’t become a solid player in the premium fight.
It’s fast enough, with a 4.7-second sprint to 100km/h and a 270km/h top end, and it handles well. Even with its softer Korean-spec suspension settings, the G70 showed off its rear-drive chassis balance, accurate and fast steering and remarkable stability in direction changes.
With 272kW of power and 510Nm of torque, the V6 is happy to live deep in its torque curve or to bellow out a meaty, aggressive roar at higher revs. It’s no BMW in-line six, but it’s right up there for smoothness with any six-pot inside a Benz or Audi engine bay.
It’s backed up with an in-house Hyundai Motor Group eight-speed transmission, with standard paddle shifts, a mechanical limited-slip differential and five driving modes (topping out with the all important Sport setting).
There’s also a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor on its way to lead the price point, which will be around $50,000-$55,000 here, for about 70 per cent of the sales split, then tack on another chunk for the V6.
Australia’s cars won’t be all-wheel drive (it’s not engineered for right-hand drive) and they’ll carry a suspension tune developed on local roads, so Genesis expects it will be firmer and crisper than the Korean versions.
That’s going to be good enough to bring it somewhere near the Dynamic Edition package Genesis will give the rest of the world, and that thing is a cracker.
It’s a strong drive in Korean spec, but it’s a cracking thing with the five-link rear end, the steering and the constantly adjusting dampers tuned to something more like what we’ll get when it lands.
It’s very quick and clean on its way into corners, settles quickly and easily onto its outside tyres and is surprisingly adjustable all the way through a corner. You can rest it on the front tyre, the rear one or both, depending on your preference, and the throttle response is fast enough to tighten the nose into the apex without any drama at all.
Unlike the Germans, the Genesis G70 really is more than happy to stay in transition for a long time, rather than racing to get the spring back to a static state, and that makes it just as pleasant and balanced in corners as it is in a straight line.
You can make it slide happily all day and it will hold drifts cheerfully or correct them reassuringly, with the influence of ex-BMW M engineering boss Albert Biermann fairly easy to see down below decks.
The stock brake package is a two-piston front end, though Australian V6s will use a four-piston Brembo package up front, while following the Dynamic Edition path for handling will give us 225/40 ZR19 front Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber and 255/35 ZR19s at the back (though the tyre package hasn’t been locked down).
It’s also comfortable around town, with enough driver assistance stuff to make it easy in town, including active cruise control, autonomous braking and an interior that makes a 340i seem a bit sparse and underdone.
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It’s also astonishingly quiet when you want it to be, with the quietest electric seats in the business, though it can be made plenty loud via an optional 15-speaker sound system if you see fit.
It’s a combination of the best of BMW handling with the comfort levels now attained by the C-Class and the A4. All it really needs now is the brand cachet.
4.5 stars out of 5
Like: Chassis composure; refinement; classy interior; grunt
Dislike: Incoherent “face”, shallow front footwell
2018 Hyundai Genesis G70 specs
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 272kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 510Nm @ 1300rpm
Weight: 1750kg (est.)
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)
Price: $60,000 (est.)