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Genesis steps things up by taking a shot at the vaunted BMW 3-Series with the new G70.

It’s already shown it can compete in the upper reaches of the luxury market, but now the upstart Genesis brand is taking aim at one of the most formidable competitors of them all: the BMW 3-Series.

Despite the kudos earned by the big Genesis G90 and mid-range G80 models, the brand’s new compact luxury sedan will have to do more than just load up on wood, leather and other lavish touches. It will have to demonstrate that Genesis – and parent Hyundai Motor Co. – finally understand what performance driving is all about.

“G70 is the latest demonstration of our dedication to delivering innovative, customer-oriented vehicles,” said Woong-Chul Yang, vice chairman of the Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D Division, as the new model was unveiled in Seoul. “We will continue to focus our R&D efforts on the development and expansion of the Genesis brand.”

With the addition of the G70, Genesis now covers the three key sedan segments in the classic luxury market, but that still leaves some glaring omissions in its line-up. Most notably, there remains no Genesis SUV, brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald telling we won’t see one for “about two years.”

Hyundai's luxury unit is going after the big dog of entry-level luxury: the BMW 3 Series.

(New Genesis G90 tops vehicle satisfaction awards. For the story, Click Here.)

While Fitzgerald and other Genesis officials admit they’d love to have a ute in the line-up, they’re nonetheless pleased with the way the rollout of the brand has been going. The Korean luxury brand launched with the G90, a complete makeover of the old Hyundai Equus, quickly followed by the G80, an update of the Hyundai Genesis.

The initial reaction has been solid, especially among early adopters who have raved about their vehicles. Genesis ranked second in the most recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, behind only mainstream sibling brand Kia. It also nabbed second place in Power’s APEAL study, handily besting more established luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus and, yes, BMW.

But the real test could be in the making, as the G70 rolls into showrooms.

The new Genesis G70 comes with three engine offerings, including a diesel option.

Perhaps no product will more clearly test whether Genesis has been able to address some of the key issues that have long hampered parent Hyundai: notably steering and suspension. Company officials insist they have closely benchmarked BMW – and they’ve had help from Albert Biermann, parent Hyundai’s new direct of high-performance development. He spent 30 years with BMW, most recently running its vaunted M division.

On high-line versions of the new G70 Genesis will offer a variety of sporty features one would expect from the Bavarians, including a Sport Mode that tightens up such vehicle dynamics as suspension, steering, transmission shifts and throttle response. High-trim versions of the G70 also will feature active sound management designed to give it a more throaty roar under hard acceleration.

For the Korean market, the G70 Sport will be powered by a 3.3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder package making 365 horsepower and capable of launching from 0 to 100 kmh (0 to 62.5 mph) in 4.7 seconds – quick, though clearly not up to the M3’s level. Top speed is 270 kmh, or 168 mph.

The base G70 will feature a 2.0-liter turbo-four making 249 hp – 252 with the sport package. There’ll also be a 2.2-liter diesel making 197 hp.

The G70 will also feature such performance-oriented niceties as a mechanical limited-slip differential, dynamic torque vectoring and Launch Control.

(Click Here to see Genesis hinting at the hybrid sport-ute in its future.)

The G70 will also feature such performance-oriented niceties as a mechanical limited-slip differential, dynamic torque vectoring and Launch Control. Rear-biased all-wheel-drive with variable torque split will also be available, the car otherwise driven by the rear wheels.

The overall theme of the new G70 was “athletic elegance,” a theme underscored by the severe rake of the windshield, the slit-like design of the headlamps, the hockey stick crease of the air curtain vents behind the front wheels, and the way a spoiler has been built into the rear deck – a touch that seems clearly influenced by BMW design.

Like the G90 and G80 models before it, the G70 will have to cope with plenty of skeptics. And few models have such devoted fans as the BMW 3-Series.

But the Hyundai spin-off has so far delivered a serious shocks to its normally complacent competition. More than a few executives from Japan and Germany have told they’re taking the newcomer quite seriously.

The interior of the Genesis G70 features the expected slew of technological niceties.

Nonetheless, the arrival of the new Genesis G70 comes at a time when other luxury players are shifting their focus away from the sedan segment, and for good reason. In the U.S., light trucks overall now account for almost two-thirds of new vehicle sales. And utes are gaining traction everywhere from Berlin to Beijing.

Genesis offered a hint of what it’s working on at the New York Auto Show last April in the form of the GV80 concept. How close it will be to the production model due out in 2019 is unclear, though the show car is believed to give a good hint at the direction the new luxury brand will take.

(Genesis G90 a finalist for North American Car of the Year. To see who won, Click Here.)

Until then, Genesis will have to make due with a three-sedan line-up. If the G70 can prove itself a serious competitor to the 3-Series, as well as the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, it should give potential ute buyers reason to wait to see what Genesis comes up with next.

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