In the beginning
This week started off with the beginning. There’s a new chapter of Genesis, with Hyundai’s premium brand now available in the UK. It has big plans, starting with the launch of the large GV80 SUV and the Bentley-like G80 saloon. Genesis says it’s all about the experience, with Genesis Studios rather than dealerships, pick-up and delivery with a courtesy car when yours needs servicing and a big push for value in the premium segment.
Prices start at £37,460 for the saloon and £56,715 for the SUV, but as with rivals like Lexus and Volvo, you get a huge amount of standard kit from electronically adjustable suspension to keep the ride comfortable to an augmented reality infotainment display, acres of sumptuous leather and real open pore wood.
We drove both and where we think the SUV is more suited to the US or Middle East, the saloon is superb, with a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol or 2.2-litre diesel, excellent ride quality and a feeling of being in something far more expensive. More models are on the way including the G70 saloon and shooting brake (estate), GV70 SUV and a couple of electric vehicles in Genesis chapter two.
Plenty of new models on the way
BMW revealed the facelift for its popular X3 and X4 SUV models this week. Both get a few design and equipment changes across the range, including for the X3M and X4M performance models. The main news is that all models now get 48-volt mild-hybrid tech which makes them slightly electrified. It’s an interim solution ahead of the new X3 coming in a couple of years time. The company also revealed the second generation of the 4 Series Gran Coupe, which gets the controversial grille treatment. Due in the UK in November there will be a choice of engines and a flagship M440i xDrive (all-wheel drive) with 374hp.
Kia took the wraps off its new Sportage, which has ditched the faux Porsche Cayenne look and gone with something edgy and dynamic. The interior looks much more premium than before with the latest tech including a panoramic curved screen. However, we still don’t know what we will get in the UK because for the first time Kia will launch a European-only model in September.
Vauxhall is on a roll with models like the new Mokka showing how it is reinventing itself in a positive way. This week the company showed a few teasers of the new Astra and also revealed the new Grandland SUV. Going on sale in the UK in the autumn, it will be packed with technology including two digital screens, LED headlights and a plug0in hybrid version.
Volkswagen has transformed its iconic Caravelle people-carrier into the new Multivan. There’s still some similarity in the design especially with the two tone paintwork but inside it’s all gone more upmarket to take on rivals like the Mercedes-Benz V-Class. Due on sale later this year, it will have space for up to seven and be able for the first time as a plug-in hybrid.
In other news
The Maserati GranTurismo has always been something rather special. The four-seat grand tourer has a soundtrack that can echo off mountains, resonate through cities and stir the emotions like no other. It’s not just about the sound though, the GranTurismo in all its forms is a great car to drive. However, it seems that the emotion and theatre of the GT from Modena could disappear with Maserati testing the next generation which will be all-electric. We’re a bit sad about this to be honest, hoping that the Italian brand would launch the Alfieri as its electric model rather than mess with the GT. It is the way it is and perhaps it will prove us wrong and be as emotional as the previous generation. We shall wait and see.
Talking of waiting, we drove something rather special this week. We can’t tell you anything about it until later this month but someone gave us the key and told us to drive to Silverstone where we were then told we had a track all to ourselves. It was a good day.
Written by Mark Smyth